Imagine the day! Jesus was coming and so much was to be done. Martha hurried from room to room. Food must be prepared, the table set. Guests would be arriving soon, so everything had to be in order, everything and everyone had to be in its place. Of all days for things to be perfect, this had to be the one, right? After all, Jesus was coming by for dinner!
Everyone would be watching to see how well He was received. Are the flowers freshly cut? Would the children behave? Would Jesus like the food? Who would He sit next to? How long would He stay? Imagine the day!
We often have the mindset of Martha, so certain that the pressing things of life must be accomplished before the day is done or before an artificially determined deadline approaches. Everything has to be just so. And, yes, like Martha, we often become frustrated when the rest of the world doesn’t follow our lead and become “busy.”
But must this be so? Are these the issues that flow from life?
Sure, dinner must be cooked, the bills must be paid, and the grass must be mowed. Certainly, your boss expects you to show up to work on time tomorrow and, yes, you probably should swing by the cleaners and pick up the laundry. But in the grand scheme of life, in the picture of eternity, are these things really significant? If you forget to pick up the gallon of milk on the way home, the sun will probably still come up tomorrow. And history is not likely to be radically altered if you don’t get that new car this year.
The stars do not maintain their alignment because we check off everything on our “to-do” list. They say we should stop and smell the roses, but many of us have never even planted the rose bush! This is certainly not to discount accountability and responsibility, for these are basic to our character. However, even more fundamental and essential for we as Christians should be to separate the temporary and fleeting from the everlasting and eternal.
What’s important? What – and who — really makes a difference? Think about this:
- Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
- Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
- Who were the last five winners of the Miss America contest. Can you even name the most recent winner?
- Name the governor of your state when you were born?
- Who were last year’s Academy Award winners for best actor and actress?
- Which teams won the last two World Series winners; the two last Super Bowl champions.
Well did you pass the test? Home many answers did you know? The point is, fame fades. The applause dies. The trophies become tarnished and dusty. Achievements are forgotten. The things that seem meaningful at the moment have no long-term value and no lasting impact.
The answers to the questions above were the lead stories on the nightly news when they occurred. In fact, they are recorded in the yearbooks of history, the pages of which are replete with names and accomplishments most of us may not even recognize. These are the events and the names that were deemed significant – even life-changing in some instances.
Now think about this:
- Who were three of your high school teachers.
- Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
- Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
- Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
- Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
- Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.
The people who make a difference in your life are not always the ones with the most influence, the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. The people who inspire, encourage and stand by you indeed are the ones who know you best. And they are the ones who will have the most impact.
When you get sick, it’s not the richest man who comes to your aid; it’s the friend you see everyday.
When you are trying to repair that lawnmower, it’s not the Academy Award-winning actor who stops in to give you a hand. It’s usually the neighbor across the street.
When you’re experiencing that seemingly insurmountable trial or difficulty, it’s not the last Heisman winner or Miss America who comes to your side.
The Martha in each of us will try to compel us to focus on the many tasks that must be done. To check off the boxes of our daily routine and make them mandatory. Indeed, these things may have significance, but when the time arrives to prioritize the needs of the moment, the Mary in each of us will see beyond the trophies that gather dust and see the real things that will shape your life.
Like Mary on that hectic, eventful day, seek to see the things — and the people — that matter for eternity. For these are the things that will shape and mold your character, your personality and, yes, even your future and destiny.