One Thing is Necessary
“But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” ~Luke 10:41-42
While I certainly know that there is a time and a place for hanging out with other people and getting input from them and exchanging stories and encouraging one another, I am also quite aware of the fact that times of solitude— with just me and Jesus— are absolutely imperative. Imperative for my sanity, imperative for my energy level, imperative for my level of patience with my loved ones, imperative for my creativity, and imperative for my relationship with God. If I don’t take time to just be with Him, learn from Him, receive truth from Him, read the Bible, study the Bible, pray, and listen to or look at whatever it is God is trying to say to or show me… If I neglect to do these things— I begin to feel extremely lost. Without contemplative times alone with God, I start to feel menacingly confused, frustratingly overwhelmed, hopelessly aimless, and unable to decipher what is or is not urgent. It becomes increasingly hard for me to make good decisions when I am not intimately in tune with God. And it becomes very hard for me to decipher God’s voice and His truth amongst all the other voices and lies crowding into my brain.
A few years ago, I was in one of those funks. Big time. I was so busy busy busy—doing good and important things, mind you— that I “didn’t have time” to spend in quiet solitude with my Maker. I was so busy giving all my time, my wisdom, and my joyful energy to all the hurting, “needy” people around me (plus my husband and children!)… that I didn’t bother getting anything fresh from the Lord. I was living off of memories of “the good old days with Jesus” rather than getting to know the Jesus of my present-time. Never taking the time to receive anything new, I was utterly exhausted, depressed and emptier than I even knew possible. Perpetually stressed, grumpy and frustrated, I had lost sight of what really mattered: my own personal relationship and level of intimacy with the One who made me. Only He had the power to fulfill me, speak truth to me, and reveal new aspects of His infinitely-amazing Self to me.
In the midst of that season, the Lord broke through my chaos and was able to capture my attention with one word: “Rest,” He said. Like the deep tuned note of a gong signaling a wake up call to the troops, that one word awoke my heart to the empty state it had been living in. And then, when the Lord saw that my antennae had picked up on that message, He added another: “Stop striving,” He urged. For over a year, He repeated those two statements to me over and over. “Stop striving, Kristi.” “Rest, Kristi.” Again and again I heard Him gently coax me into a place of peace, tranquility and intimacy. And although He led me to many many amazing Bible passages regarding His capability and His love for me and His purposes for me, this is where He had me camp out for months on end:
“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” ~Isaiah 30:15 (emphasis mine)
Whereas a certain element of striving can, I’m sure, be beneficial, the kind of striving that God was calling me away from at that time in my life was the striving to get away from painful memories and feelings and, even more so, the striving for approval. I strove for God’s approval, I strove for my in-laws’ approval, I strove for my husband’s approval, I strove for my friends’ and co-workers’ and extended family’s approval… and I even strove for my own approval. It was after much journaling and counseling and reconnecting with God that I finally realized that I was trying to prove to myself that I was a worthwhile human being; that I was important; that I had value.
(Side note: It is exhausting to try to convince yourself that you matter when you don’t really believe you matter.)
I thank God that He broke into my life and mind with Isaiah 30:15 and a host of other amazing truths from His Word.
During that season, the Lord showed me that the only way I was ever going to get the strength to be the true me and the only way I was ever going to be saved from my own insecurities, from my absolute exhaustion, and from my longing to feel like a worthwhile, valuable human being— was to plug into Him.
Like a lamp that needs to be plugged into an outlet in order for it to work, I needed to reconnect with my Source, the Creator of the heavens and earth, the Author of life itself.
As Isaiah 30:15 suggests, I needed to repent from my too-busy lifestyle and I needed to simply spend quiet, restful time with Him, soaking in His truth and learning to genuinely and wholeheartedly trust Him. In doing this, I found that the more often I allowed myself to just let go and let Him show me and tell me whatever He wanted to show me or tell me, the more I began to actually receive and believe Him.
And, miracle of miracles, I found my worth. I found that my broken heart was being made whole. I found that I wasn’t so exhausted all the time anymore. I wasn’t so worried about what people thought of me.
I became totally enamored with this God who was so much bigger and better and more capable than I had ever even imagined.
And while I haven’t been in that large of a soul/identity-crisis since then, I have seen a similar pattern time and again in my life: I get stressed, experience loss and/or grief, and then I immediately switch into “Go Mode”— I start feeling the need to do do do and go go go and accept any invitations that are extended to me. I don’t slow down or take time out to consult or receive from God. I just DO. And then, not surprisingly, I start losing sight of what really matters. I start overcommitting myself, start losing track of time while staring at a screen of some sort, start wrestling with issues of self-worth, and start feeling more and more impatient with the kids, more and more frazzled, more and more like it’s my job to save the world, and I start feeling more and more anxious about the future. And anxious about the past and present, too.
When I don’t take time to slow down and look for the Lord’s guidance and/or receive from Him, I get lost again. It is not a good situation— for me or for anyone around me.
But the great news is this: Jesus finds a way to pry His way through all my mayhem anyway. I am so very thankful to say that He doesn’t leave me to my own devices. He swoops in and rescues me despite myself.
Lately, He is piercing my consciousness with this: “One thing is necessary, Kristi… One thing is necessary… One thing is necessary…” This mantra runs through my head on a daily basis lately as I see God trying to woo me back to Center— back to His peace, back to His hope, back to His truth, and back to His Word.
I’m so thankful He does that. I so need it.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” ~Exodus 14:14
Help me, Lord, to keep my focus on You. Help me, Lord, to not stray from times of intimate communion with You. Help me, Lord, to be still and let You be You— help me to let go of my superhero complex and my pride so that I can rest in the assurance that You are infinitely more capable and wise and loving than I am.
Thank You, Lord, that You fight for me. You even fight against my own diseased thoughts in order to show me Truth again. I trust You, Lord. Thank You for being the best One Thing I could ever spend my life adoring.
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What about you?
How do you keep your priorities straight? How does God (or your loved ones) get your attention when you are veering off-course?
Please feel free to share your journey in the comment section below.