In the Gospel of Luke (verses 38 – 42) the Holy Spirit records for us the visit of Jesus to Bethany to go to the home of Martha and Mary. Martha, being the eldest, takes on the responsibility to make sure that all arrangements are just so in order to receive their Guest.
However, in her efforts to attend to the preparations, the Word tells us that she became “distracted” and was upset that her sister, Mary, was not helping her with these things. For Mary was “… seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.” (verse 39) In her frustration, Martha approached Jesus and asked Him “… do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” (verse 40)
Let’s stop right here for just a moment. As we hear this account, we perhaps are tempted to sit in judgment of Martha and condemn her for such a line of questioning of the Lord and her instruction to Him to tell Mary to help her. We think that we would have behaved differently. But, let’s dwell on this for a minute.
How often in our lives do we become distracted by the aspects of life just as Martha? How many times do we surrender to the busyness of this world and forsake the pursuit of the Presence of God in our own lives? We fall into the same trap as Martha far too often than we would care to admit. In doing so, we miss the beautiful Presence of the Lord and His Word.
Back to Bethany we go. After Martha had so boldly stated her case to the Lord out of frustration, Jesus responds: “… Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (verses 41 – 42)
There is an immeasurable richness in the words of our Lord in His response. Allow the Holy Spirit to minister these words to our distracted hearts in this moment. Martha had become so distraught about the preparations that she lost the Presence of the Lord in her busyness. This pitfall is ever present in our hectic and chaotic world.
Whether it is the news of the day that has caused us to take our eyes off of Jesus or if it is simply trying to strive within our own strength to meet the demands of the day, we fail to choose the “good part” and we give away our joy of being fully in the Presence of God. Many times we exhaust ourselves trying to “push through” the trials of life when if we only stopped and knelt at the feet of the Lord and listen to His Word.
We must be, as Mary, intentional in our pursuit of the Presence. He has promised us that “… I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you…” (Hebrews 13:5). He is always with us, but are we with Him? We can be and are commanded to be. If we will seek Him in His Word and in prayer, we know that when we draw close to Him that He has promised to draw close to us. (James 4:8)
To experience the Manifest Presence of God is the source of all joy, strength and true spiritual fulfillment. It is not optional, it is a command. So, will we be like Mary who chose the “good part” that will never be taken away? Or, will be behave more like Martha and become disengaged from the Presence and live a distracted and frustration life? For the Spiritual Christian, the choice is clear. Seek the face of God always and do not relent.