“Irwin, Irwin,” the Lord answered, “you are worried about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
During service last Sunday, I had a strange experience. Pastor Ed was preaching on Luke 10:38-41 – the familiar story of Mary & Martha: Martha cooking in the kitchen; Mary sitting in the living room listening to Jesus. I used to think that this story teaches us not to be too caught up in the activity of ‘doing’, and to find time to be ‘resting’ at Jesus’ feet. Yet, Pastor Ed provided a new perspective on this story by sharing with us that it is not so much ‘activity’ or ‘doing’ that Jesus was gently rebuking Martha for. It is also not about the contrast between being in the kitchen versus being in the living room (metaphorically). Indeed, Pastor Ed posits that it is neither geography (where) nor activity (what) that concerns Jesus, but theology (who).
You see, if the roles had been reversed in the story – with Mary feeling upset with Martha for being so busy with cooking that she is missing out on the opportunity to listen to Jesus, and if Mary had been the one to stomp into the kitchen and exclaimed, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister is so busy working that she is not sitting with me listening to you?”, Jesus would have addressed Mary in verse 41, “Mary, Mary…” It is ultimately our posture, our attitude, our heart in whatever we are doing that must be right. Whether it is work, whether it is play, whether it is rest, we do all things unto the Lord.
But the strange experience that occurred to me last Sunday was that as I was reading this passage, the words in verse 41 morphed into my name, “Irwin, Irwin,” the Lord answered, “you are worried about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” I was so surprised and moved that tears started streaming down my face uncontrollably. Because I knew the Lord was talking to me. In the past few weeks, I have been so busy with setting up my new tuition centre; with reaching out to my friends; with wanting to set aside time to spend with my family and loved ones; with preparing to take on the role as Cell Group Leader next month; with focusing on how to prepare my students for their A-Levels that I was running on adrenaline – and overtime as well. True, I was exceedingly joyful in the things I was doing and I was always consciously focusing on God for the strength I need to do all these things, but I know also that I have to go back to that one thing which is needed.
And that one thing is what I posted in my blog at the start of this year, my resolution for this year and all the days of my life:
“One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4)