It’s so easy to lose our focus on the Lord. To lose sight of Jesus in the middle of our day. (And the beginning and end, too.) Learning to recognize the warning signs that we’re off base can help us get back on track. Here are 5 from Jesus’s interaction with Martha and Mary in Luke 10.
38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 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.”41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
The Warning Signs
- We’re doing too much of a good thing. Martha was ‘distracted with much serving’. It’s not like Jesus caught her cheating on her taxes or starting a meth lab in her basement. Her desire to welcome Jesus was good, but at some point her preparations for his visit crossed the line and took her focus – ironically – off of Jesus. For many of us, our work, school, training or things like our phones lead us down the same road.
- We feel that Jesus doesn’t care about our challenges and frustrations. Martha let Jesus have it: ‘do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?’ He was there, but she felt like Jesus was oblivious to the fact that she was doing all the work. I can identify. We’ve raised support for our ministry for 15 years now, and (nearly) every time our account gets low, I start to think God is on vacation. Where do you see this show up in your life?
- We feel all alone. Martha felt like she had to shoulder all the work by herself. When we find ourselves thinking that it’s all up to us, it’s a sign that we’ve taken our eyes off of Jesus. Even if no one else is willing to help, God has promised that ‘he will not leave [us] or forsake [us]’. (Deuteronomy 31:6).
- We feel overwhelmed. Martha’s question (demand) to Jesus implies that she felt like there was just way too much for her to handle. Her flurry of activity wasn’t enough to get it all done. I don’t even have to ask you if you can identify. But when we can, where is that coming from? In many cases, we’ve taken on things that God isn’t asking us to do. It is often too much and we need wisdom to know what we need to let go.
- We tell God how our lives must go. Based on this little incident, you get the feeling that Martha was kind of like Peter. Impulsive and not afraid to speak her mind. ‘Tell her then to help me!’ She assumed she was right (Mary should be helping!) and ordered Jesus to call her sister out accordingly. Ah, if only Jesus would see things our way and get on board. I had some significant hip pain about a week ago, and it only took me a few hours to get really grouchy. And demand (mainly internally, but my wife noticed) that things get better with minimal effort on my part. When we find ourselves declaring that something must go such and such a way, we know we’ve lost sight of the Lord.
My work as a pastor focuses on healthcare students and professionals. They’re trained to look for the symptoms of various diseases so that they can treat their patients effectively.
That’s exactly how God’s Word works in our lives on a spiritual level. ‘For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart’. (Hebrews 4:12-13)
As we learn to see the symptoms of our sickness, we learn to refocus on the Lord. ‘God, there I go again stressing out about all that I have to do. I’m not even sure what I’m doing wrong, but I know I’m taking on too much. Forgive me and show me your agenda for me today’. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, but little conversations with God like this really add up and we’re transformed in the process.
Recognizing the symptoms of our distraction is the first step. We’ll take a look at how we can pursue Jesus in a more healthy way (from Mary’s example) in my next post.
Let’s live it out: Spend a few minutes reflecting on the signs that we’ve lost sight of the Lord. How do you see this most clearly in your life? Share it with us in the comments just below!