This is the face of a nearly 3 year old girl who is engaged in her favorite princess movie. And of course dressed as one of her favs too. After all, one cannot watch a Princess without being dressed like one! The most amazing thing about it (as all you moms out there know to be true) is that the facial expression would seem to convey a necessity to absorb every single second of this never before seen movie. When in reality we know she has seen it at least 30 times . . . maybe even this week. But she is hooked, glued to it, mesmerized – completely swept away by the magic that happens with the Little Mermaid. Nothing distracts her – nothing can pull her away.
What must this be like? I can’t remember a time when I was so incredibly focused on something that nothing could pull my attention away. For me it is almost impossible to complete a task with starting another one, or at least thinking about another one. I start one thing, begin another, get distracted by a text, attempt to respond to a message on Facebook, and then remember I was actually trying to finish a document for a meeting. Been there? Done that?
There is a woman of the Bible who can relate too (probably more than one I imagine). Her name was Martha. Remember her? The one who was too distracted to sit at the feet of Jesus, as opposed to her sister Mary. Poor Martha! She has really taken a beaten over the years for being the one “too” busy, the one who missed the boat, who didn’t get that the Savior of the world was right there in front of her, or thought it was about doing instead of the one thing needed. Little did she know that a little house cleaning obsession would turn into a lesson about the importance of choosing Jesus first, a lesson taught over and over and over to all believers. Luke’s recounts the story,
” Now as they went on their way, he (Jesus) entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.”
Admittedly, even as I re-read it now it is hard not to judge Martha. Is she a tattletale, tattling on her sister to Jesus? Is that what is going on? I have two sisters, I know what it sounds like to be a tattle tale, trust me! Jesus’ response to her kind of makes it seems like she just might be one.
“But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Ouch! I mean as a kid I always hated it when my mom took “their” side. Here it seems obvious, Jesus has sided with Mary and dismissed Martha’s tattle tale – invalidated her complaint! End of story. The message is clear. Distracted by many tasks: bad. Sitting at the feet of Jesus and giving him your undivided attention: good.
But it is true, much like my Princess Adeline focused on her princess movie and completely undistracted, Mary is focused on Jesus. She is not distracted by the tasks that surround her. She is not missing the one thing that matters because she has chosen the better part. And Jesus affirms her choice through the promise that it will never be taken away.
Does this make Martha the bad one in the story? Hardly! If so, then we are all the bad ones aren’t we? I know I cannot say that I am distraction free and Christ-focused, or that I acknowledge the necessary and most important thing all of the time. But maybe that is just it. Maybe we are not meant to be Martha or Mary in the story – but a combination of both. Or at least understand that we are capable of being both the one distracted and the one focused on Christ. Martha and Mary can represent the tension we wrestle with daily. The tension between our distractions & our faithful commitment to Christ, our desire to walk in the Spirit & the temptation to follow the flesh, or even the old self before Christ that struggles against the new creation we are in Him. The tension between distraction and the better part.
So sure, Martha is a tattle tale; she is tattling on “the Mary” in all of us. Because the one distracted by the many tasks in life, which pull us from Christ, has trouble seeing the importance of sitting at the feet of the very One who deserves all of our attention, the only One that matters and can submerse us in the Holy Presence that keeps us from the same distractions fighting to pull us away.
So as Lent begins this week I am giving up “distractions”. How? And maybe a better question: is that even possible? Yes, I believe it is. Here is how I will make my effort; by getting up a little earlier over the next 40 days. So maybe I am also giving up sleep (which may seem silly for a woman 31 weeks pregnant on the verge of giving it up soon anyway, but still.) Why get up earlier and give up sleep? 1. To avoid the distractions of a toddler, who seems to be getting up earliest on the days I need my quiet time the most, and the busyness of my getting ready routine that takes over by 6:45 am. 2.To refocus my cluttered quiet time and sit at the feet of Jesus each morning. I pray that my face conveys the intense adoration and awe I have for my Savior and reveals the necessity I have to absorb every single second with my Creator . . . never to be pulled away.