_ Study _
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.”
_ Read _
My husband, Chris, is a jack-of-all-trades. He’s a thriving investment banker. He cooks like a boss. He’s a car guy – just ask him about his 1976 Mercury Cougar that he completely rebuilt with his dad and watch his face light up. And anything else he might not know how to build or craft, after a quick YouTube session he typically figures it out. I am incredibly blessed to be married to such a well-rounded man, yet this go-getter, do-it-all man of my dreams almost never stops moving. With one project lined up after another, I often ask him “Babe, when are you going to stop and rest?” To which he jokingly replies, “Maybe tomorrow?” Aka maybe when I don’t have an endless list of work to do.
There’s a toxic lie floating around our world that says, “If you get your work done, then you can rest.” This lie creates a belief that rest is reserved solely for when the work is done; a belief that has tragically misshapen the way we value and practice taking time for rest.
It seems like this might be what Martha believed in Luke. I imagine her welcoming guests, taking their coats, cooking a multi-course meal, serving appetizers, pouring drinks, and rushing around the house to make sure that every element is in its proper place. She was hard at work – so much so, that she resented her sister who was sitting, resting with Jesus, even when there was work yet to be done.
From this perspective, rest is a reactive activity. It takes place after work is finished; it’s propelled from exhaustion; it’s less of a choice and more of a need; it’s fit into the margins of life. But this is not the kind of rest that Jesus calls us to.
Because of Christ’s work on the cross, we do not have to earn our rest. He lived, died, and was raised again so that we are secure – secure in our salvation and secure in rest.
In this story from Luke, Mary could’ve been running around cleaning and preparing with Martha, but instead, Mary left the work unfinished and sat with Jesus; and here’s my favorite part – He affirmed it.
If we believe the truth that rest is a gift from the Lord, then it can become a proactive activity that is not dependent on work being done. It’s propelled from the knowledge that through rest we are refueled; it’s less of a need and more of a choice; it’s a priority that is worth rearranging our schedule for.
Rest may not come naturally for my husband, but he has learned that when he stops to rest, no matter how difficult it may be, he is refueled and better able to do the work the Lord has set before him.
My prayer is that together we might shift our perspective from the reactive mindset of resting from work to the proactive blessing of getting to work from a place of rest. Let’s not save rest for the rare moments when the to-do list is fully checked; let’s follow in Mary’s footsteps and sit at the feet of our Savior even when there’s work yet to be done.
_ Practice _
Today: Let something go – whether it’s the dishes after dinner, a pile of laundry needing to be folded, or cleaning the house, I want to challenge you to let it go for today. Instead, use that time to snuggle your pet, read a book to your kiddos, or watch a Christmas movie with your friend or spouse. Savor this time with yourself or with your loved ones before you finish the work. I know it may feel odd to leave something unfinished, but it’s a great way to practice putting rest as a higher priority than work.
In the future: Look at your calendar and take note of any big projects, events, or social gatherings that you have coming up. It’s tempting to believe, “I need to get this done and then I will rest.” Instead, be proactive and schedule rest before these big events take place. Maybe that means going to bed early before an exam or presentation, or taking a nap before a social event, or journaling before stepping into a heavy conversation. Even if it’s taking 5 minutes of quiet, praying to the Lord and asking for sustenance before family Christmas – this act of rest will give you strength and enable you to love your people well.
After practicing rest this way, take note of how you feel. Has your perspective on rest shifted at all?
_ Extra Resource _
Rest with Abigail Dodds | Episode of Journeywomen Podcast - I thoroughly enjoyed this episode and was really encouraged and challenged by the truths Abigail shared about rest. I highly recommend giving this one a listen.
This devotional is part of the A Restful Advent series.
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