Only One Thing That Is Needed By: Jessica Mudger May 21, 2020
This morning my daughter dragged her dejected little body into my bedroom and collapsed on the bed in front of me. “What’s wrong, princess?” I asked, stroking her head, which was buried face down in the comforter. “I don’t like school,” she finally sobbed. My heart sank with hers. It wasn’t hard to imagine why, but I asked anyway. “It’s too hard, and I don’t know what to do, and I don’t want to do it anymore.”
If there is another phrase that is a more fitting description than this of how I have felt for weeks, I don’t know what it is.
It’s too hard, and I don’t know what to do, and I don’t want to do it anymore.
Even when we aren’t under stay-at-home orders because of a pandemic, my life kind of feels this way. There is always a home to run, children to raise, a husband to love, friends to encourage, responsibilities to fulfill, ministry to do, and that’s all just before lunchtime.
In the first few days of staying at home, it seemed maybe things would slow down a bit. All the activities had been cancelled, and the calendar was wiped clean in one swift motion. I wondered how we would ever fill all the extra time. It didn’t take long for me to find out.
Even in the midst of adjusting to extenuating circumstances, there are things we find and quickly deem necessary to accomplish. As it turns out, we as human beings are not great at the “being” part. All it takes is an open space on the calendar and our minds start running with all the possibilities with which to fill it…
“Well, since all of my evenings and weekends are now free, I can certainly put in that garden and fix up the house.”
“It’s not healthy for my kids to be spending so much time in front of screens. I need to come up with fun, creative and memorable learning activities instead.”
“Am I wasting my time if I don’t learn at least three new hobbies before this quarantine is up?”
“What if my kids are way behind when they get back to the regular classroom?”
“I don’t want to lose touch with my friends, so I need to make sure I personally reach out to every person I follow on social media and create Pinterest-worthy handmade gifts to deliver to each one.”
“My kids are missing out on their regular school activities, so I should make sure to enroll them in every virtual experience that comes along.”
“Wow, did you see that report about ____? I wonder if that’s true. I’m going to google every piece of information I can find so I can debate about it with strangers on the internet.”
“Is my family safe? How long can we continue like this? Is this the new normal? What about people less fortunate than me? Should I be helping? And if so, how?”
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)
Those words echoed in my heart as I sat considering my own overwhelmed calendar, suddenly brimming with more possibilities than before. How can I feel behind when there’s nothing on the schedule? What are my family and I truly supposed to do right now to honor God?
The answer came as I pondered the words of Jesus in my heart… (Your name here), you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.
If I become distracted by all the responsibilities and the possibilities in parenting, I will quickly become worried and upset about many things. There is truly only one thing that is needed. When I choose to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to his teachings, I choose the best use of my time and energy. It is in sitting at the feet of Jesus that he brings everything into focus for us. Responsibilities become prioritized. Opportunities are taken or declined. Comparison is arrested for the lies it professes. Problems are exposed. Expectations are put in their proper places. God’s power and grace become sufficient for my weaknesses.
The one thing needed is to sit quietly and listen to the Lord teach us.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)
So the question becomes: when was the last time you were quiet before the Lord? Have you heard his teachings recently? He says he is gentle and humble, so he rarely shouts above the noise.
A good way to begin finding time to be quiet before the Lord is to let his voice be the first one you hear when you wake up in the morning. Instead of checking your phone for new messages, click on the Bible app for some tried and true messages. Wake up a few minutes earlier than normal if needed. There’s something about the quiet hours of the morning that are so conducive to hearing from Jesus. Before the day becomes polluted with the noise of necessity, lean in to the voice of peace. Next, the best way to make listening to God a routine is to do it at the same time and place every day so that it will become a habit. Finally, maintain realistic expectations. If you are a Bible novice, it’s a good idea to start out with reading just a bit at a time. There are countless Bible studies and Bible plans available to people who are ready to ramp up their Bible reading.
Now that our children are experiencing school at home, we have to ask ourselves what they are learning. I am not just referring to the curriculum, although that is important. Children are spending more time with us than possibly ever before. What an amazing opportunity! All of a sudden they have front row seats in the class of “How to do Life” by professors Mom and Dad. They are learning our work ethic, how we deal with tough situations, how we keep a house, how we treat others around us, and more. The thing they should most learn from us is how to rely on God for our every need. It is not about our abilities to teach all the right things, but instead about our abilities to point to the One who can. If we teach our kids that Jesus always has the answer (by our words, but even more so by our actions), then they will always know the path that leads to wisdom.
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I have given you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7, NIV)
Whenever we wonder how to lead our family in these uncertain times, we can remember that the best place for us to be is right at the feet of Jesus. He will teach us exactly what we must do. In this moment, we have chosen what is better, and it will never be taken from us.