Read: Luke 10:38-42
One of my favorite M*A*S*H episodes was shown on TV this past week. No matter how many times I view it, I am once again reminded of what we can so easily miss when we are distracted. May I explain? The episode began at a time when the nurses had been sent away for their safety. When they returned, they were excited to celebrate with the others by throwing themselves a party with new records that they had brought back to play on the jukebox. At the Officers Club, nurse Kellye, played by Kellye Nakahara tentatively asked Hawkeye, Alan Alda's character if he wanted to dance. The music was lively as they danced together, but when the tempo of the music changed to a slow dance Hawkeye and Kellye sat down to talk. Then it happened. Distraction. It became apparent that although Kellye was engaging Hawkeye, he was barely hearing anything she said. He was distracted by all the pretty women in the room, missing the person who was sitting next to him.
Oh, distractions, distractions. They come in many varieties and often when we don't expect them. There is pain when being distracted causes someone to feel like she is not even seen. What does a distracted life look like? We can be reminded by looking into the lives of Martha and Mary. No Martha bashing here. In fact, let's look at three really positive things about her interactions with Jesus, as well as how Mary related to the Teacher.
1. Martha opened her home to Jesus and His disciples. When we meet her in Luke 10:38-42, she was working to put together a meal for them. Are there many actions that show more care than fixing good food for someone whom you love? In addition to that, we also learn in John 11 that Jesus loved these two sisters and their brother Lazarus, John 11:5. What a haven this home must have been. There is a second positive quality Martha displayed in this story, but let's save it until we talk about how she was distracted. I like readying the food for people we love. However, I can understand what might have happened to Martha. Unexpected things can occur in the kitchen. Spills or a pot that boils too quickly. A food item that refuses to get done on time or something that becomes mushy because it is overcooked. The possible foibles are limitless. How does a bit of sugar end up underfoot, so far from where it initially fell on the counter? Such unexpected happenings cause distractions or distractions cause unexpected happenings. Someday, we can ask Martha just what was going on that day when she became huffy. Whatever the crisis in the kitchen, Jesus wasn't distracted by it. In response to Martha's bluster, He simply let her know that Mary as she drank in His teaching had chosen what was best. That wasn't all either. He wasn't going to ask her to change her behavior. I wonder what precious truth the Lord was sharing with those who weren't distracted that day. Whatever it was, Mary was evidently receiving all she could from the Master as she rested there at His feet. It does not appear that Martha's words became a distraction to her.
Now, back to Martha and what she did right.
2. Martha went to Jesus with her frustrations. Yes, she was distracted and put out, but she brought her problem to the Master. A good thing to do when we are distracted. No, Jesus didn't do what she wanted, but He gave her His perspective. That's what a distracted person needs, isn't it? Mary wasn't going to be rebuked because she had chosen what was best. What about Martha whom the Lord also loved? He told her the truth about herself. She was frazzled and distracted about many things.
We don't know what Martha did in response to Jesus' words, but it is time to look at the third thing she did right.
3. Martha learned from her harried day. When we meet her again, she is still serving Jesus; however, there is no sign of kitchen complaining. It appears that she has aligned her perspective with Jesus', John 12:1-2.
What about us? We can so quickly become distracted as we interact with people. The goals we are trying to accomplish can so easily take precedence over paying attention to someone who stands near us. The thought of doing a task--even a good one--can cause us to be so distracted. The result? Someone might feel invisible in our presence.
Oh, how we need the Lord's help and perspective. The problem is that things need to be done, and work must be accomplished.
Back to Martha and Mary. A meal is a blessing and a comfort; so, we would never say that food shouldn't be prepared. Perhaps, in the kitchen as well as so many other places, simpler plans could be made. What if the tasks weren't eliminated but pared down so that the distractions could be lessened? What if more margins, wider margins were in place in case of an unexpected happening? Maybe then, both tasks and people could be treated with the importance each deserved. There is one simple help for distractions that Martha used that I so often forget. Prayer. She talked to Jesus. She asked Jesus for help. Yes, He was in the room, but He is also with me. He cares about what distracts me from His perfect balance for each circumstance. There is another thing Jesus does when I come to Him in prayer. He reminds me that some of what distracts me pales in significance to what is precious and important. He reminds me that I shouldn't sweat the small stuff. Once again, He gives His perspective which helps me throw off distractions. He helps me keep the main thing in the forefront of my thinking.
Lord, remind us to run to You when distractions overwhelm us. Please give us Your perspective and Your Joy.