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Too Busy to Stop


The light was red. Here’s my moment. Looked back to see if the kids needed anything—wiped a snotty nose. Hope it’s not a cold. Looked up—light was still red. Pulled the Tide pen out of my pocket. Milk spit up from the baby. Glanced at the drivers next to me—on their phones. Mini-vacation. Looked down and scribbled my on my leg with the Tide pen. Good enough. Glanced up—light changed. Time to go. Hope this dries before work.

Stop lights. I don’t stop at them anymore. They have become a time for task management and mini-vacations. Check on the kids. Call my wife. Reply to email. Send a text. I find ways to go even when I’m told to stop.

Nonstop Busyness

When did this happen? When did I—when did we—get so busy that it became hard to sit for two minutes at a red light? The smallest moments of our day have become moments to get something done or escape.

What will it take for us to actually stop in our day? Stop lights aren’t doing it. And in our busy lives, we don’t schedule time to stop, to pray, to plan, to thank God for His grace in our lives.

This is not a reminder to stop and smell the roses. This is about stopping the excessive busyness and frenetic activity that often hinders our walk with Jesus. We are Martha, endlessly toiling while Jesus sits at our kitchen table, ready to speak to us, hear from us, and share a meal with us. You know the story:

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42 ESV).

Anxious and Troubled About Many Things

Notice how Martha is described: distracted with much, anxious and troubled about many things, feeling left alone to do all the work and demanding help. Sound familiar? If Jesus sat at my kitchen table, I bet He would tell me, “Dustin, Dustin, you are anxious and troubled about many things.”

And I am. I bet you are too. For many of us, our struggle is not something blatant or extreme. It is our excessive busyness, our non-stop schedules, our unending desire to finish our unending to-do list. It’s the frame of mind that says “Once I finish everything, then I’ll pray and read my Bible.”

To be clear, busyness is not sin in itself. But when we are too busy to spend time with Jesus, or get involved in community, or advance the gospel, we probably need to stop. Or when we use busyness as a distraction or an excuse to not deal with our problems and our sin, we need to stop. It is no coincidence that the story of Mary and Martha is sandwiched between the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and Jesus’ teaching on prayer (Luke 11:1-13). Both passages remind us to stop—to stop and care for someone in need and stop our busy activity to be with Jesus.

Sitting at the Feet of Jesus

I know for many of us, we desire God—we want to sit at the feet of Jesus—but we feel like we just don’t have time. God seems like just another part of our busy schedule. So what do we do? Where do we even begin?

First, identify what’s driving all the busyness. Did you notice how Jesus answered Martha’s request for help with her busy work? Instead of giving her help, he told her something about the state of her heart—you’re anxious and troubled. So ask God to examine your heart (Psalm 139:23-24). What keeps you in state of busyness? Some of it may be circumstantial and uncontrollable. But many times, what’s driving our busy, distracted lives is something internal. We want approval, control, power, security, status, or success—and we’ll fill up our schedules with activity until we get it.

Second, prioritize. Notice that Jesus told Martha that “one thing is necessary.” Think about all the busyness throughout your week. How much of it is necessary? The to-do list might be unending and the busyness might seem all-consuming, but we have some measure of choice in the matter. Jesus said that Mary “has chosen the better portion.” Spending time with Jesus will refresh your soul and reveal what is absolutely necessary to get done.

Lastly, rest in the gospel. Our busyness is often an effort to get stuff done. The gospel reminds us of the ultimate thing we can’t get done on our own—salvation. This reminder leads us to humbly acknowledge our limits and helps us rearrange our priorities. The gospel also reminds us that it is finished (John 19:30). There is no to-do list or busywork to gain access to God. Jesus has secured our redemption through His death and resurrection. We can stop all the striving and rest in His finished work. Truly, this is something that “will not be taken away from [us]” (Luke 10:42).

Friends, summer is nearly upon us. This is usually a time where things stop or at least slow down for many of us. Don’t waste this. Use this natural break in the year as a time to rediscover what it means to sit at the feet of Jesus.

“One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).