Before you read this, let me say something up front. This is something we absolutely can’t afford to miss. When we do miss it, it steals our joy and distances us from God. And the scary part is, we don’t even realize it.
I sat down for my quiet time today and I asked God what He wanted to talk about. Clearer than anything I heard, “Mary and Martha.” So I googled where that is in the gospels (the answer is Luke 10:38-42 if you want to look back at it) and turned to it. It became immediately obvious which one I am in that story.
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.”
This isn’t the first time this week that God has talked to me about distractions. A few days ago He showed me Proverbs 24:30-31: “I passed by the field of one who was lazy, by the vineyard of a stupid person; and see, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.”
Solomon is probably talking about a literal field here, but God used it to point me to a figurative parallel in Mark 4:18-19:
“And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing.”
Suddenly Proverbs 24:30-31 became all about distractions. Distractions spring up when we are lazy about weeding them out; they arise from a lack of diligence, or maybe ignorance.
“Jenna, Jenna, you are worried and distracted by many things…”
So, then, it’s clear that distractions are a real issue. I always know that when God brings up an issue multiple times in a short amount of time, it’s something that’s going to be absolutely annihilated. He doesn’t take second chair. This is one of those times, and I’m really freakin excited about it.
I have been lazy in preventing thorns from choking out my faith. I have allowed worries and distractions to creep in, and I justify them.
Once that all solidified in my mind I told God that I didn’t want them anymore. I asked Him to remind me of what they are so we could get rid of them. Here’s my list. I would encourage you to make your own, because I’m 100% sure they are at least somewhat different from mine:
- Worrying about my speeches (this is huge. Thankfully there are only 5 weeks left of speech class and after that I can have like 5000% more peace………….you know what? No. God wants me to have like 5000% more peace right now. Let’s go, God. Weed it out.)
- Distracted by Netflix. Lol.
- Distracted by anger
- Distracted by a heart that’s more obsessed with myself than broken for other people
- Worries about my family and roommates (nothing big, it’s just that when you’re close to people you start to realize they don’t have perfect lives but YOU WANT THEM TO AND IT’S FRUSTRATING)
- Worries about what the future holds, especially career-wise
- Distracted by AND worried about healthy eating/fitness
- Distracted by laziness
- Distracted by the desire for money
- Distracted by the general, day to day cares of this world
- Household worries
- Distracted by a busy schedule
These aren’t really things Christians are concerned about for each other. We justify these things FOR each other, saying they’re completely normal. And I’m not saying that loving your family and roommates and enjoying Netflix as an occasional reward for getting things done, and getting things done in general is bad. At all. But we never really talk about how easy it is to get into the habit of living out of these things, rather than out of the love of God.
And that scares me.
If we’re worrying about and distracted by these things, then there is no difference between us and people who don’t know God. We start to live like people who don’t know Him. Maybe we pray a little bit more than the average non-Christian, maybe we go to church on Sundays, but it never really changes our hearts because we don’t leave any room for God to shake things up.
When we live like the rest of the world, we start to lose our hope. The rest of the world does not have the same hope we do. I don’t know if you ever think about that simple fact, but lack of the hope of Jesus is why so many people walk around with no sense of purpose, no light in their eyes. And if we live like them for too long, we will become like them.
These last couple of weeks, God let me have a taste of what that’s like. I pretty much told Him I was good; thanks for the good feelings or whatever, but I’ve got things covered. But then the worries and the distractions ate me alive and I started to decay inwardly. The part that horrifies me is that I didn’t even realize what was going on until I read the story about Mary and Martha. That’s why I’m asking you to pay attention; that’s why I’m so enthusiastic about telling you this. I don’t want you to feel the way I did. I want you to take hold of the hope Jesus went to the cross for.
That’s all well and good but it’s pretty abstract. I’ve been learning that when I ask God to remove something from my life (i.e. thorns), it’s really important to ask Him for something in return. So I prayed and asked Him what I could have in place of the worries I listed above, what I could turn to instead of the distractions. Again, I’m going to give you my list, and I would encourage you to pray and make your own.
- HIS LOVE!! Just acknowledge it, dwell on it
- A sense of purpose, a knowledge that I am valued
- A bigger heart for serving
- Peace in my heart in the middle of this storm. I literally can’t get this anywhere else. Only in God’s arms.
- It will leave me more time to fellowship with my friends
- Money will never be an issue, even if I lose it all
- Real happiness and joy
- Praying for people rather than worrying about them, since God can do just a bit more for them than I can
- Rather than being angry at or jealous of people, being thankful for their lives and gifts
- Praying for God to take away my gluttony and give me a desire to take care of my body
- Fighting for the lost with prayer
I don’t want to live under the same chains the rest of the world doesn’t know how to escape. I want to be done willingly locking myself in them. This week I’ve experienced so much of what it feels like to be in that place, and it sucks so. Bad. I think God must have let me go through that to help me see what life is like without Him. It’s not something I want to experience for real. Now my radar for people who are experiencing that degree of hopelessness is going to be much more sensitive.
“…There is need of only one thing.”
I’m praying that this post would remind you of the incredible new life we’ve all been given through Jesus, the Lover of our souls, the God who doesn’t withhold any good thing. It’s my hope and belief that He wants to bring you closer to Him, whoever you are, whatever you’ve done, wherever you’ve been. He wants you to experience joy on this earth and share it with others. Whatever His plans may be for you, they are good. He wants to create new life for you every morning. All we have to do is give Him the thorns.