who sets the agenda of our lives?

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.”

Luke 10:38-42

There are many things we could be doing today, probably many we could well say that we should be doing. There is no shortage of the imposed demands and oughts of life, indeed largely a part of our lifestyle as Americans, more or less shared in many other places of relative affluence.

In the story above, the two sisters are often compared: one doing well, and the other not so well. And there is truth in that. But if one backs up and looks at the bigger picture, one finds that the Martha who didn’t do so well, ends up with a faith as strong, one might think even stronger than her sister Mary, in the end. Although only the Lord can sort such things out. Our personalities, gifts from God, and circumstances, and precisely what the Lord is doing in our lives at a specific time, all factor in. So we must beware of thinking we know. For Martha’s faith during the time of their brother Lazarus’s death in a remarkable account, see John 11.

Don’t underestimate the place of rest and quiet, and seeking to listen to the Lord. Busyness and activity seem to be the default of our day, especially work related, things that need to get done. Fun shouldn’t be overlooked, either. But we need to be careful, lest we substitute what God might want to do, and maybe wants us to do (or not do), with our own agendas.

In all of this, we can look for and trust in God’s help in directing us. Especially through the pages of scripture, through the church, and over time in changing us from certain tendencies, to something better. All of this, in and through Jesus.

discipline and enjoyment

Work requires discipline. Discipline simply put is follow through by doing what needs to be done to fulfill one’s responsibilities or commitments.

We live in an age which is driven in large part by feelings. If we feel like doing something, we do it; if we don’t feel like it, we don’t. Of course that doesn’t work in the work a day world. You get up and go to work whether you feel like it, or want to, or not. Some of the most fulfilling things I do are in spite of how I feel at the time before, and sometimes even during doing it.

When we don’t have to do anything, we often gravitate to that which is okay and even good, up to a point. What entertains us, what we actually want to do. That’s not to say that we won’t want to do what is good for us to do, take for example in my case, Bible reading. I can thorougly enjoy reading the Bible, especially slowly and thoughtfully, and hopefully prayerfully. I find that things which are okay in themselves which I enjoy doing can actually crowd out the better things, such as Bible reading. Everything has its place, and we do well to enjoy everything we might say, in its place.

What is desired perhaps is to achieve some rhythm which somehow balances the  need to enjoy with the work required to enjoy it. The very best things in life require commitment on our part along with effort to do well, and in a sense finish the work. There is so much left undone, so much potential for good not realized simply due to lack of discipline. Behind lack of discipline may be lack of vision. But one’s discipline can help them find vision. So lacking vision is not a reason to lack discipline. We desire that which is good, therefore we make every effort to achieve or gain it.

Above all practically speaking, we do well to learn to plod along and keep at it, as opposed to a brilliant dash of light in which we achieve or receive something great and good. No, we keep plugging away with discipline, asking for the Lord’s help that we might learn where true, lasting enjoyment lies.