Christmas cards, letters, shopping, baking, end of year projects, health screening, Netflix and Hulu tv specials, car repairs, salvation army drop offs, social gatherings in person or via zoom, gift giving, church commitments, year-end giving, and dinner parties.

What distracts you these days?

The year 2020 has been unpredictable as well as a long season of confusion, waiting, and distraction. Uncertainty regarding the Covid virus, mask wearing, hand sanitizing, vaccine development, community changes, and thoughts about the new drama of tomorrow invaded the world this year. Waiting for furloughs to end, health to return, worship gatherings to resume, neighborhood socials to reconvene, restaurants and markets to open, and “things to return to normal” captured the attention of humankind. Many people filled the voids of this “new” life with distraction: social media, video games, tv, cleaning, complaining, internet surfing, alcohol, home improvement projects, reading the news, workaholism, and busyness around the home. Humankind experienced an interruption of sorts in 2020 and most struggled to adjust with healthy mechanisms for growth and transformation. Could we have chosen better?

Better – of a more excellent or effective type or quality, more excellent or effective, more suitable, appropriate, or useful.

I often encourage people that I meet with to discard the notion of reading a full chapter in a sitting, but instead, to read until a word or phrase jumps out to them. At that point, resting with that particular word or phrase, inquiring of the Lord about its significance, helps surface deeper meaning and connection. Reading in this slower manner limits distractions and offers pointed focus from God. Ruminating over that word or phrase throughout the day offers a sweet space to commune with Jesus and further explore the Word’s impact on life.

Recently I read in Luke 10 Jesus’ encounter with Mary and Martha – much in these five verses jumped out to me.

Luke 10:38-42- 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.”

Martha often gets a bad rap, yet I love that she invited Jesus to visit. She extended hospitality to Jesus and his companions. I wondered, what types of hospitality do I offer to others? How about you? Hospitality takes many forms: presence, food, tears, a hug, a phone call, text messaging, lodging, questions, honest conversation, encouragement, challenge, service, and companionship. Martha’s open door policy challenged me.

Mary, on the other hand, evokes an open heart posture. Mary focuses singularly upon Jesus. Instead of assisting her sister with the demands of hospitality, she reclines near Jesus eager to attentively listen and learn from Him. I marvel at her posture. Sitting at Jesus feet reveals submission. Likely her gaze intently watched Jesus every word, absorbing the living water He poured upon her alert ears. I wondered, what is my heart posture toward God? What about you? Mary set her affection on Jesus and absolutely nothing else in the world mattered. Do I live with that devotion? The cares of the world faded as Mary focused on Jesus’ words of life. As you and I focus on the Truths of God, the anxieties surrounding us also lose their grip allowing us to rest and submit in Jesus presence. Mary’s open heart posture challenged me.

The distractions from the household preparations stole Martha’s joy in offering hospitality. She found herself focusing on Mary rather than Jesus. Frustration began to take root, but quickly faded under the tender gaze of Jesus as He gently showed her the truth. Worry, distraction, and comparison tempted Martha’s soul and yet Jesus revealed to her the way to realign her priorities. Only one thing truly demanded or required her focus: Jesus. He pointed out that Mary chose what was better and Martha could choose better as well.

Better – of a more excellent or effective type or quality, more excellent or effective, more suitable, appropriate, or useful.

The simple word, better, stopped me as I read this passage from the Bible. Better. What made Mary’s choice better?

Mary chose that which would not be taken away from her. Food and entertaining would come and go, but being with and listening to Life itself would last forever. Could Mary help with the meal preparation? Yes. Could Mary clean and prepare the home? Yes. Could Mary assist Martha with the final details of entertaining a group of Jesus’ friends? Yes. While all these things were good options, Mary still chose better. I wondered, what does better look like in my daily life? How does it look for you?

Better – of a more excellent or effective type or quality, more excellent or effective, more suitable, appropriate, or useful.

Better offers space to focus on Jesus. Better provides margin to attend to the needs of those God places in our path. Better remembers that a depth of communion and understanding develop in the presence of God.

Perhaps better looks like: turning off technology for the evening, going for a walk under the moonlight, playing a family game, eating by candlelight, refusing to work into the evening, planning special outings with loved ones, reading Scripture slowly to absorb God’s truths (not just observe them), allowing insights gained from tough conversations to propel action into transformation, singing worship songs, answering the phone, and embracing interruptions as blessings.

Notice the distractions surrounding you. Choose better. Ask the Holy Spirit to instruct and teach you what better decisions to make. Choose that which cannot be taken from you. Enjoy margin and space in the presence of God. Just be with him. Invest in life that lasts through loving God and loving others. Live and love better with God during this distraction-filled season.

Merry Christmas!

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Ephesian 1:16-18 –  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

Psalm 84:10 –  Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Read these recommended books to fill your soul.

Jan Johnson. Enjoying the Presence of God: Discovering Intimacy with God in the Daily Rhythms of LifeColorado Springs, CO. 1996.

Brother Lawarence, Salvatore Sciurba (translator) The Practice of the Presence of God. Washington D.C. 1994.

Sprinklings of Truth: Soak in meaningful songs. Check out these music videos to lift up your spirit.

Matt Redman. Better is One Day.

Chris Tomlin. Adore.