Distracted by the Unnecessary

Distracted by the Unnecessary

(Snapshots Session Three)

Luke 10:38-42

Location: Bethany

Place: Martha and Mary’s home

Martha opens the door. She welcomes Him into her home. Welcomes Jesus not as a casual guest but as someone she is taking under her personal responsibility. Someone she is receiving under her personal care to see to His needs.

Meanwhile, Martha’s sister, Mary, sits at the Jesus’ feet. Which is just another way to say that she is being taught by Him.  Something quite phenomenal for a woman to sit at a man’s feet to learn. . . And she sits there- entranced- listening.

Listening not as one who turns on the television or music for background noise. Listening not as one who takes in knowledge from a lecture or a funny story told. No, a different kind of listening. One that leads to faith being birthed inside.

Romans 10:7: Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard from the word about Christ.

Mary is hearing the message right from the words of Christ. And faith is coming.

Meanwhile, Martha continues to care for Jesus. Serving. Willingly with a giving attitude. Her attention on Him.

Until that moment. The one where we can’t really put a finger on. It just happens.


It takes hold of her. Drawing her attention away.

And then this.

“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

Oh, yes, that. Cringe.

Whining- Do you not care?

Martyr-I am all alone doing this because my sister will not help.

Bullying- Tell her to help me.

She tells Jesus what to do. And so do we. Often. We pray telling Him. We live lives that tell Him. We want Him to join us in our plans. Not so much would we want to join Him in His plans.


Those dishes. Those dirty, nasty dishes that take me down that road.

Serving dinner to my family- sorta nutritious but nonetheless food. And then they get up. Walk away. Leaving dishes on the sink. Pots on the stove. Crumbs on the cabinet top.

And I start.

Whining: Look at all these dishes. Does no one care about these dishes?

Martydom: I work so hard to make dinner night after night after night. And here I am alone left to do these dishes by myself while everyone else is enjoying themselves.

Bullying: (Barking) Tyler, unload the dishwasher. Don, put up the food. Zach, clean the counters. Blaine, sweep the floor.  Someone load the dishwasher.

Serving with love.


What became an act of love turned with a distraction. Taking my eyes off the love act and placing them on the dishes and myself.

I understand Martha. Such good intentions. One distracted moment. I become someone I don’t like so much.

– – – – –

Martha’s full attention on Jesus- her serving heart- all changes. And it becomes about her. About the work. About her sister.

And what does Jesus say?

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things. But one thing is necessary.”

Anxious: to be divided, distracted, drawn in opposite directions, divided into parts

Troubled: confused noise, disturbance

Martha, divided into parts and giving into the confused noise, all starting with her attention taken off Jesus. One distracted moment and this.

One thing is important. Among the confused noise- one thing. One thing is necessary. Him. His Words. Faith. Welling up within us, changing us.

He says that Mary has chosen the good portion and it cannot be taken away from her. The Words spoken into her soul can never be taken away. It burrows deep within us and stays.

Martha’s distraction reminds me of a parable. The Sower. The ground. Thorny.

“And for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hears, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. “ Luke 8:14

And yet there is a different ground where His Word might fall.

“As for that in the good soil, they are those who hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. “ Luke 8:15

And how do I hear the Word? And what difference does it make?

When I scan back over decades. . . of once upon a time thinking the Bible was boring and weaving through years of reading it for knowledge and teaching it for knowledge and then that place. The one where I fell in love with the Word.

This I know. For certain. With all my being.

In those hard years. Those ten most hard years. Everything could be put in one category or another: Thorny ground. Good soil.

And those things that transpired in the thorns. . . I didn’t handle so well.

And those things that took place on good soil. . . I did.

Working through the distractions to keep our attention on Him won’t change the circumstances. Not usually.

But it will change me. The way I react. The choices I make. The peace I have.

And that is the difference I seek.


Be intentional. Work through those distractions. Make a plan.

Five things to try:

Read Scripture one verse a day. A week. And think about it.

Journal five things each day that brought you joy or that you are grateful for.

Type your prayers on your computer then hit delete.

Listen to Scripture as you commute each day.

Sit in solitude and listen.

What have you tried that works for you?