Being busy is one of the best things you can be in life. The enemy loves idleness; it’s his favorite playground. When you’re engaged and active in positive things, there’s not a lot of room for foolishness. But when you’re not where you’re supposed to be and you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing, trouble is right outside the door! David spotted Bathsheba one night at a time when kings go off to war. But he was at home. Bored. Doing nothing. Staying up late. You know the rest.
It’s good to be busy, but being busy isn’t what it’s all about. Sometimes, doing a lot and staying on the move and expending tons of energy become the ends instead of the means; we’re busy just for the sake of being busy. The going and the doing gives us a sense of pride and feeds our ego. Or maybe we just like to impress other people with how much it looks like we’re involved in.
But being frantically preoccupied isn’t the same as being fruitfully productive.
One day, Jesus came to town. Martha saw an opportunity to serve the Lord and His disciples, and she went all out. She even got mad at her sister Mary for “not doing anything,” just sitting around at Jesus’ feet and not helping her with all this stuff that “needs to be done.”
Luke 10:40 says that Martha was “cumbered” or “distracted” by all the preparations and the serving. The Greek word in that text literally means to be dragged around. Martha wasn’t free and she wasn’t happy. She was a slave to all of the things she felt like she needed to do. And she was miserable. She even became resentful of the people around her who weren’t “doing as much” as she was. (Ever been there? I have.)
What’s dragging you around?
Maybe it’s the self-imposed obligations and deadlines of our modern culture. We’re conditioned to always be doing something. We’re not going to be successful if we’re not going full-tilt, 24/7! (Pound an energy drink and get moving, or you’ll get left behind!) Our kids aren’t going to be well-rounded if they aren’t in 15 different extracurricular activities! (Grab some fast food and shove it in their pie-holes between practices! GO, GO, GO!!!)
Maybe it’s ministry. Just like Martha, you started out with good intentions of doing something that would bless the kingdom, but now the work itself has become the obsession, not the One you’re working for. Don’t let ministry take the place of the Master in your life. If you’re not careful, it can become a well-disguised form of idolatry. You’re no longer living on the Bread of life; you’re being sustained by your own sense of worth, which is rooted in your abundance of work.
Maybe it’s someone else’s expectations. You haven’t done what you want to do in a loooong time because you’ve been so busy trying to make mom or dad or granny or sis or BFF happy. And it’s killing you. Your joy is being drained, and you’re really starting to resent that person who has imposed their will on you. But you can never really get too mad at them because, deep down, you know that they’ve only done what you’ve let them do.
Martha was ticked at her sister, but Jesus told her that Mary had actually made the better choice. In that moment, the one who had her priorities straight was the one who was sitting still “doing nothing”!
Listen, you were not created to do all these other things. Don’t get me wrong, your pursuits are all fine and good in their place. Hard work and perseverance are Biblical virtues, qualities that honor God and find favor with Him. Chasing your goals grows your character; it helps you develop patience, fortitude, and wisdom. And finally completing the project or crossing the finish line or earning the degree can bring incredible joy and satisfaction in your life.
But don’t confuse pursuits with purpose. All of the good things we can chase and achieve in life are just icing on the cake. Knowing God is the cake.
Think about it: Jesus didn’t ask Martha to do any of what she was doing. Martha decided to do those things. Jesus would have been fine eating leftovers. He just went there to be with His friends.
I wonder how much of what we’re doing God would tell us we really don’t need to do…if we would just listen.
You were actually created to have communion with your Creator. If you miss out on that because you were doing everything else, then you missed out on everything. God gave His people the Sabbath, in part, to help them be still in His presence. Every so often, we need to shut everything else down and just be with Him.
Just sit at his feet and soak up His teaching.
Just marvel at His perfection and purity; meditate on how awesome and amazing He is.
Just bask in His goodness and savor His blessings in your life.
Just listen to Him and talk to Him, pouring out everything that’s been piling up in your spirit.
This is the essence of life, the greater thing that gives meaning to all of the lesser things. It’s what God wants for you more than anything else, and it’s what you need more than anything else, even if you don’t always realize it.
There’s nothing wrong with being driven…as long as you request frequent stops along the way.