“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38-42, NIV 1984).
Just seeing certain patients on my schedule can send me into a self-induced minor panic that affects my whole day. On one memorable day “Annie” did just that, as I anticipated the time allotment she normally required. She had multiple medications to sort through and a myriad of chronic conditions and symptoms to address. It was always difficult to tease out the functional from the organic as I desperately tried to balance the fear of missing something serious with overuse of diagnostic studies and medical care. Additionally, this patient is a strong believer and our established good rapport has always resulted in her relaying her latest stories of personal evangelism and asking how she could be praying for me. Of course, I loved these discussions with her, but it all took time. That particular day I had no time for any new symptoms or any nice stories as I was behind and rushing to catch up. I breathed a very quick prayer as I approached her exam room. Basically it was, “Help Lord!” but I’m ashamed to say I was probably really thinking, “Lord, help me just go in, in order that I can come back out. QUICKLY.” As I walked in the room I heard the words, “Martha, Martha…Martha, Martha…Martha, MARTHA!” In my mind, I heard Jesus speaking to another frantic woman. Instantly, I felt the conviction of the Lord: “SLOW DOWN, sit at my feet with your sister Annie and listen to Me. Choose what is best.” Annie simply apologized about being on her cell phone, trying to get her sister, Martha, to hear her through a bad connection. I gained more from my visit with Annie that day than she gained from any of my medical expertise.
I admit I have always been prone to worry and anxiety. When these emotions start to consume me, I often respond by frantically trying to overachieve by working faster and better, and attempting to avoid or prevent those things that “could happen.” I have long fought this tendency, and I am learning to accept and practice the peace that only the Lord gives, but sometimes anxiety still raises its ugly head. While Mary sat and listened at Jesus’ feet, Martha worked frantically and complained she was left with all the preparation.
Author Peter Scazzero writes, “Martha is actively serving Jesus, but she is missing Jesus… Her duties have become disconnected from her love for Jesus….” Way too often, this is I. In my distracted, busy mind I forget the One I am really serving and why I am serving. I need to simply love Christ and let Him dictate my time and activity according to His perfect plan for the day. While on earth, Jesus did not rush or try to fix everyone’s problems, and He does not expect me to do that either. But He does want me to look to Him for guidance, to depend on Him minute by minute and to NOT live in a distracted, frenzied, anxious pace that hides all that He is in me to those I am serving. Getting the work done is important, but doing the work with Jesus is far more important than the work itself.
You made me and know my heart and my anxious thoughts. Please help me to live dependent on you for everything, always at your peaceful pace, surrendered to your perfect timing and will.
by Lavonne Johnston, PA-C