When was the last time you were distracted? Or, maybe I should ask, when was the last time you were not distracted?
It used to be, when I sat at my desk, I needed to have everything put away before I could do my Bible reading or any type of studying or writing. Otherwise, I would begin thinking about bills needing to be paid, other books needing to be read, or lists calling for attention. I could barely keep my focus for ten or fifteen minutes before I slipped away into some other train of thought. I have sense learned to block out those kinds of nuisances.
Now I have “bigger” interruptions; Job searches, writing assignments, a dog that wants out- or in – or to play, yard work, blogs to update, emails that go “ding” when they arrive on my computer. A whole host of assorted distractions that are new and different. Yet just as disruptive.
Luke provides us with a snapshot when Jesus and Martha had a conversation about distractions. It appears Martha was distracted with chores around the house, while her sister Mary was spending time learning in the presence of the Master. This role choice didn’t set well with Martha so she suggested to Jesus that he say something to Mary about her lack of attention to the matters-of-consequence*, that is, the chores.
“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself?” she asked. (10:40)
I can just see Jesus shaking his head and with a soft sigh, saying “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted about many things; there is need for only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her” (vs. 41-42)
In other words, Martha considering what is going on around you and whose presence you are in, only one thing should be occupying your mind right now, household chores is not it. Spending time learning from me is! What does it profit a woman if her whole house is spic and span but she squanders an opportunity to be in the presence of the Master?
Based on the text, it is difficult to determine precisely what Jesus may have been saying in this encounter. As we know, Luke is recording from what he has heard, not seen. Since there are variations in the MSS suffice it to say he definitely is drawing a comparison between the choice each woman has made.
I get worried and distracted by many things. But when you net them all out, how important are they, really? I know this may sound as absurd as worrying about housework or meals, but does it seem reasonable to spend three hours keeping my yard looking nice and thirty minutes reading scripture and praying? Is it appropriate to drop two, three, four hours each evening watching my favorite television programs and only allocating a fraction of that time investing in my local church body? Talk about distractions!
Over the years I have had many a guilt trip laid on me by many a preacher about distractions, priorities, discipline, and the like. I suspect I needed them all. However, it’s when I came to my own conclusion to do something about it that progress began. It is all a matter of choice. I can choose to be distracted or I can choose to remain focused. I can choose to spend my time foolishly or invest my time wisely. I can choose to do “chores” or choose Christ.
I think I will choose “the better part, which will not be taken away…”
*matters-of-consequence, from The Little Prince, a “term” that refers to mundane or non-consequential matters.
Father, I have the right to choose. I do not have the right to choose the consequences of my choices. Each moment wasted is never recaptured. Each moment spent learning from the Master is life building and will never be taken away. Let me cast the worries and distractions of this life, this day, this moment, at your feet, knowing that you care immensely about me. May it be, in Jesus Name.