What is Better

“Mom! I need you to put pigtails in my hair!”

My four year old was waiting in the hall for me when I got up yesterday morning. My eyes were barely open, my body was still shaking off the shell of sleep. I needed a minute.

“Okay just let me brush my teeth. Did you look outside?”

“No,” she said, running to the front window.

I could hear her shrieks of joy from the bathroom.

“IT SNOWED! HEY GUYS! IT SNOWED!” she shared the good news with her big sisters.

I see an obstacle; she sees an opportunity.

It’s late March and perfectly normal weather in our city at this time of the year, but these overnight snow dumps still seem to catch me by surprise. Just the day before, we were enjoying the brilliant sunshine as the kids played at the park near our house. Our neighbourhood was buzzing with dog walkers and kids on bikes.

After the snow, all is quiet.

I stepped outside to drop something in the garbage bin and my ears perked up at the sound of birds in the trees. They seemed unfazed by the shallow blanket of white. It’s moisture that our dry ground needs, bringing the hope of a good growing season.

What appears to be a setback may, in fact, turn out to be the very thing that propels us forward.

Let me say that again: what we perceive to be holding us back may actually be the catalyst for the deeper, lasting change we desperately need.

Can we make room for it? Are we brave enough to let ourselves be interrupted by what is better?

If our pace is so harried that even one small deviation from our plan causes us to come unglued, maybe that is exactly what we need – to be unglued from our throne.

I was reading the story of Mary and Martha yesterday (Luke 10:38-42 NIV) —

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 few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

“Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Martha had a heart to serve the guest of honour in her home with great care and attention to detail, but all the preparations had become a distraction to her. She became so frustrated that by Mary that she actually asked Jesus to tell Mary to help her! Can you even imagine?

And yet, something about that sounds so familiar to me.

My heart is full of distractions that bring frustration when someone isn’t going along with my plans. My prayers are full of requests for God to change other people to make my path easier.

Jesus had something important to share with Martha. He knew her heart. He knew she was worried and upset – she didn’t even have to tell Him that part. He reminded her that only one thing was truly necessary – to sit at His feet and listen to what He said. Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen what is better, and He wasn’t about to tell her to be more productive.

Hmm. Could it be that there’s a game changer in there for me today?

Lord, search my heart. In the middle of all my grand plans, teach me to understand and choose what is better. Show me what it means to just sit at Your feet and listen to what You say.

spring snow on grass

Spring snow on the grass

 

The Season is Changing

Anyone else stumbling around in a post-time change fog this week?

Yikes.

I read once that it takes three weeks to fully adjust to a new schedule, so hopefully by the end of the month we’ll be caught up on the sleep we’ve missed!

Give me all the daylight, though. Every day we’re getting closer to 10pm sunsets and 5am sunrises, and the twilight hours that fill the hours in between. We’ll be making up for the winter darkness.

I smelled mud the other day and I remembered spring. It took me by surprise. I was in a parking lot and the heavy, earthy scent drifted past, bringing with it a sudden swell of hope! Same with the sound of water trickling through the downspout as the snow melts off the roof.

Ordinary evidence that the season is changing, and with it, the things we spend our time and energy on.

It’s the Lenten season. I recently read a Lent devotional that seemed to pit personal times of worship against serving the least of these in our community, as if the former is selfish and the latter is spiritual. It seemed to say that reading our Bibles and spending time in prayer is meant to somehow impress God with our efforts to be holy, when our energies would be better spent serving those among us who are truly in need.

It broke my heart.

When we put our faith in Christ, the Bible teaches that we become Christ’s righteousness before God. When God looks at us, He doesn’t see our vain efforts to impress, He sees Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 says,

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

So why should we view the Lenten season as some sort of exercise in spiritual pride, bent on giving us brownie points with God? If that’s what Lent is for you, I strongly recommend you rethink this season.

That last verse gets me every single time: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. When we understand exactly what Jesus did for us, we no longer see these seasons of examining our hearts and engaging in repentance and renewal as an effort to impress Him with how spiritual we are. We fall down in worship, fully surrendering our proud hearts and recognizing that there is no other Person who can bring us back in to a right relationship with a Holy Creator to whom we owe the very breath in our lungs.

I will say, though, that these times of worship must bring about lasting change in our hearts! And out of that change comes minds that are transformed by the truth of God’s Word, hearts that are open to the Holy Spirit, eyes that are searching for opportunities to put Christ’s love in action, and hands that are ready to serve Him by serving others.

I think the author of the Lent devotional is right in pointing out that inaction is a grave mistake that we would do well to pay attention to. But I am sad when I see worship and service pitted against each other.

In the weeks leading up to Easter I’ve begun to read the Gospels of Luke and John, once again re-living the life of Christ and praying that God will move in my heart through the story spread out on the pages. My heart has been stunned and amazed and encouraged by Jesus! And most often, I am finding that service of the least of these consists of pouring practical love on the very people that are right in front of me.

frozen bunny tracks

I found these frozen animal tracks one morning.