We are all wired completely different. No two individuals are exactly the same. There are things I love about myself and things I would give anything to change.
I realized long ago that I had a tendency to define my life by the number of things I could accomplish. If I accomplished these things with reasonable "success" then I can at least be content for the moment. How you define "success" is a whole other story.
There are good things about this. These types of people are usually internally driven and tend to do things with a high level of excellence. On the flip side, these people are rarely, if ever, content with life. Welcome to my life.
For example, right when you accomplish something there is no time to stop, celebrate and enjoy the moment because you're on to the next "thing" that will somehow fulfill your life. I know by personal experience that this can be a vicious cycle. I have to tell myself on a regular basis to stop and smell the roses. At least celebrate for a few hours.
Several months ago, I was in a late night small group study with a bunch of men and someone asked a question that rocked my world: "If your titles, positions, goals and other's opinions were stripped away from you, would Christ be enough?"
This question haunted me for the next several days. I know that as a follower of Jesus Christ I should find my identity in my relationship with Christ. What if I didn't have my job, didn't have my "successes," didn't have all of the stuff I'd worked so hard to attain? Was my real identity somehow wrapped up in all that stuff instead of the person of Jesus Christ?
I read a passage in the Bible a few days later that has been my life story for the last few months. It's crazy because I've read this story probably a hundred times in my life but this time I really internalized what God was trying to say to me.
The story is found in Luke 10:38-42 and it's about Jesus coming to the house of two of his close friends, Mary and Martha. The passage says that Mary "sat at Jesus' feet" while Martha was "distracted by the big dinner she was preparing." Martha comes to Jesus upset because she's doing all the work while her sister Mary just sits there.
Jesus looks at Martha in all her distress and says something remarkable, "My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!
There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her."
Do you understand the implications of these words? In other words, Jesus is telling Martha that the big dinner can wait. Martha is "distracted" by all this stuff that's really nice but just not that important.
Can you imagine what Martha was thinking? What? The Messiah, the Son of God is sitting in my living room hungry from traveling for days and you're asking me to just sit here and listen?
This was difficult for Martha because she was a "doer." You could peg her as someone with an "active discipleship" who is motivated by what they do. Mary, on the other hand, probably tends to have a more "contemplative discipleship." This doesn't mean that Mary is lazy, but she has a tendency to learn, analyze and worship first.
Is it possible that we've gotten this whole thing backwards in our lives? I know I have. I believe that God has called us to live in a Mary world with Martha moments, not vice versa. We were called to come and just "be" before God has ever called us to "do."
For me that entire concept has brought so much freedom. So you're telling me that I can never do enough stuff or be "successful" enough to gain God's favor? That's right, you can never achieve it. It's a free gift of God's grace. He wants a relationship with you before he wants all your efforts and achievements.
Here's what I've been learning. Jesus has been teaching me how to be defined by my relationship with him and not by what I accomplish. It's still really hard for me.
If you are a "doer" like me then you can probably relate to this thought. God is never more pleased with you than when you are sitting at His feet in worship.
A person who lives a Martha life with no Mary moments will soon face burnout, frustration, and even bitterness. A person who has sat at the feet of Jesus like Mary will find more joy, peace, and contentment as they go about doing their Martha duties.
We live in a Martha world where Jesus is constantly calling us to come and be with him. In all honesty He doesn't care about your list of accomplishments and "successes" near as much as you do. He is way more interested in creating those Mary moments.
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