Thursday, March 27, 2008

Living singularly

"Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. and she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." 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 from her." (Luke 10:38-42)

In my previous post, I posed the question: as I face the myriad of things I HAVE TO do, I OUGHT TO do, and I WANT TO do, can I choose the only thing that is needful? In other words, can I live as Mary did, choosing the good portion, the one thing that is necessary? In answering these questions, it is helpful to consider Mary's example: what does the one thing kind of life look like in her?

She sat. You know, sitting is one of the those things we can't do in a hurry or on the fly. Sitting, by its very definition, denotes a pause. One must be still. It takes time and patience. Not only does Mary sit, note where she sits: at Jesus' feet, a place of humility and submission, indicating her readiness to receive the Lord's instruction.

She also listened. Not too long ago, I read a woman's testimony of wanting to hear God speak to her so she "listened" for His voice through worship videos on YouTube, trying to sense in her spirit what He may be saying. She wanted to hear Him, her desire was to listen, and her description of her desperation echoed feelings I myself have experienced. Yet she did not go to the best place to hear Him speak: His Word.

Today I read an excerpt of a yet to be released book on worship. The author poignantly describes her desire for ever increasing intimacy with God, yet makes the following statement:

God spoke to me through His Word but I wanted to hear His personal voice.

What? God spoke through His Word but...?! Whether subconsciously or purposefully, both women are assuming that God's Word, the Bible, is insufficient for a fuller "experience" of God, such as hearing His "personal voice" or feeling a deeper emotional connection.

Want to hear God? Listen to Him through the pages of His Word. His Word has given us everything we need for life and godliness--and everything means everything! His Word is sufficient, and more! It is living and active, discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. It does not return empty but accomplishes God's purposes and succeeds in the thing for which He sent it.

I do not think Mary listened passively as I sometimes do when my son is giving me a play by play of the flag football game played in PE. See, I just really don't care who completed how many passes and though I am hearing my son's words, I'm not really listening. No, as Mary sat--still, humble, receptive--I think she listened as one being taught.

God speaks. If we are to be women pursuing the simplicity of one thing, we must sit before the Lord, taking time to be still and listen as He speaks in the pages of His living Word. Ps. 1:2 describes the blessedness of one whose delight is in the law of the Lord, who meditates on it day and night. There are many ways we approach Bible study and I'm not sure delight is always one of them. Listen to His Word with delight and expectancy, seeking Him with your whole heart; He has promised you will surely find Him there.

Notice that Mary also chose. Right priorities will never just happen to us. We will not wake up one morning and the plates will have stopped spinning, all our HAVE TO's, OUGHT TO's, and WANT TO's finally falling into place. Believe me, I've tried the ignore-it-maybe-it-will-all-go-away approach. It doesn't. We must choose.

We must choose to sit, to take the time, to be still, to yield. We must choose to listen, to study His Word, to know what it says, to hear Him speak through the Scriptures. As we do, we will find the one thing that is needful, the good portion: Jesus Christ Himself. Nothing compares to Him.

"'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.'" (Lam. 3:24)

"I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." (Phil. 3:8)


  1. Bravo. For stating boldly that listening to His voice begins with the obedient choice to read His Word. There is nothing insufficient or less full in His Word.

  2. What an exhortation. Thank you!

  3. Good thoughts! Thank you!

    I too, find it interesting how often it does come up that God's Word seems insufficient. What a lie the enemy has made us to believe.

  4. This is so hard for me. My mind races a mile a minute, my mouth overflows with praise, thanks, petitions . . . I just need to ABIDE.

    I wrote a devotion back in January entitled "i want no regrets" where I said, "I want to be still and abide instead of filling my entire prayer time with petitions and thanks."

    Still working on it.

  5. en and amen. I have missed reaour blog; I have been so utterly crazy lately, but I am glad that I have some time to read your wonderful writing :)