“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” -Luke 10:38-42
Located on the highest cliff of Ona, a tiny island in Norway, you’ll find this beautiful ruby red beacon known as the Ona Lighthouse. Built in 1867, it stands 48 ft. tall and overlooks a small village of no more than 25-30 inhabitants. At the foot of this tower, you’ll find a cluster of brightly colored wooden houses that help create an indisputable peaceful scene.
When I contemplate the serenity depicted in this image it almost seems as if the houses are gathered attentively around the lighthouse waiting for its light to shine; the light that will reassure them that they will be kept safe from the dangers of misguided nocturnal sea vessels. Then, I am instantly reminded of Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus.
Like Martha, we have all experienced the pressures of life’s daily cares. School, work, church, family, they all demand time and attention; sometimes simultaneously!1 If there are no book reports due or projects to complete there are always household chores to do and baseball practices to attend. There’s no doubt that these responsibilities, among others, constitute an important part of our lives. However, they can become detrimental to our overall well-being if we allow them to overwhelm us and overshadow the more important things like spiritual, physical, and even relational disciplines. But the truth is that most of us already know this. We have been convicted of it many times before. We’ve felt guilty about it and we’ve told ourselves that it’s time to make a change, but unconsciously we get sucked back into the routine of meeting deadlines, succumbing to our OCDs, and thinking that the world will collapse if we stop, even if just for a moment, to sit down and catch our breath.
But like Mary, we all need to take a break and sit at the feet of Jesus every now and then. No, I don’t mean sitting in a church pew, or even behind a computer or phone screen scrolling through inspirational quotes and devotions. I’m not even referring to a routine devotional time. Even when doing these things we sometimes miss what God is trying to tell us because we are either on a tight schedule, checking off our spiritual To-Do list, or just going through the motions. What I mean is that we have to TAKE time (stop one thing to do another) and not MAKE time (arrange a schedule to accommodate a task). Time to…
- Wholeheartedly immerse ourselves in Him and His word [Read Escaping Not “From” But “Into“].
- Intentionally contemplate and appreciate His handiwork (the earth, the heavens, and the intricacies of the human body) [Read Fearfully and Wonderfully Designed].
- Deeply reflect on how the stripes that were on His body have completely healed us from the ill-effects of sin.2 This particular one should be exercised more regularly than just once a year during the “holy week.”
- Quietly listen to his voice by giving Him our undivided attention. This may be somewhat difficult, especially if we are used to just pouring our hearts out. But the truth is that many times being still can actually accomplish more in terms of receiving peace and assurance.
This doesn’t mean that we carelessly ignore our responsibilities as Martha thought Mary was doing. There has to be a balance between work and leisure in order for us to be effective and productive as Christians and as citizens in general. The key to achieving this balance is discerning (like Mary) when it’s time to pursue what is better. In other words, we should know when it’s time to put the book down, take our hand off the mouse, stop scrolling, or stop sweeping and take care of what is more important. Maybe it’s time to redo our priority list.
To manage life properly we need order, direction, encouragement, and support. God provides all of these things through His word, sermons, songs, godly counsel and even through blogs like this one. But He also provides them through the gentle whisper of an undisturbed quiet time at the feet of Jesus.
There are two other interesting facts about Ona that serve as an excellent Gospel analogy. This relatively small island has been populated for centuries because of its proximity to the fishing expanse that is close to the Atlantic Ocean. For this reason, fishing has traditionally been the only source of income for its inhabitants. However, the island has recently attracted a few pottery makers as well.
This reminds me that at the feet of Jesus, we can also find the motivation and passion we need to become effective fishers of men.3 Every heartbeat of our Savior has a name; the name of every soul that is yet to be saved. If we listen closely we’ll hear their cry and be encouraged to reach out to them with the Gospel.
At the feet of the Master Potter, 4 we are also taught how to help mold the clay (lives) He has placed on the wheel (earth). We accomplish this by growing spiritually and, in turn, helping others become fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.5
After writing this devotion I have been convicted to stop and spend some time at the feet of Jesus and listen to what He’s been trying to tell me. How about you?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, there is no other place I rather be than at your feet. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of life quicken me to stop and listen to what you have to say. Thank you for the privilege of being able to be in your presence and listen to your heartbeat; the heartbeat for a lost and dying world to which you have called me to shine the light of your Gospel. I pray this in your precious name, Amen.