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Panic or Pressure

Perhaps more prevalent in our lives than frightening reasons to panic are sources of pressure. We never seem to have enough time—pressure! We want to do well as a spouse and a parent—pressure! We are called to be good stewards of finances and effective managers of a home—pressure! Jobs, friendships, responsibilities to aging parents, health problems, and even service at church—all of these bring on pressure and too easily squeeze out the peace of God.

But, we can thank the Lord that as we live in the whirlwind of life and the flurry of daily demands, His peace is avail­able to us. We don’t have to live in a frazzled fashion— breathless, anxious, worried, fretful, and rushed. But how?

Do you remember when Jesus went to the home of Mary and Martha? Martha welcomed Him (and probably His twelve hungry disciples) in for dinner, but she “was distracted with all her preparations” (Luke 10:40) and soon let the mounting pressure she felt to fix the meal rob her of any peace—a fact that became quite obvious.

First, Martha’s manner was a dead give-away. Her behavior could be described as cumbered, distracted, wor­ried, and busy. She tensely scurried about, bustling and bothered, fretting and fuming, a picture of anxiety in motion. She was literally—and breathlessly—caught up in the whirlwind of life. The cook herself was in a stew, whip­ping herself up into a froth. Finally, no longer able to handle the pressure, she “burst in” (verse 40, Phillips) with a few words for Jesus!

That’s when Martha’s mouth revealed her lack of peace. “Lord, do You not care…?” she asked the Master accusingly (verse 40). Pointing the finger of blame at Mary, Martha next said, “She has left me to do all the serving alone.” The bossy big sister then dared to tell the Lord what to do: “Tell her to help me.” Yes, besides stirring up a meal in the kitchen, Martha certainly stirred up quite a commotion in the living room with her verbal outburst!

Martha’s confusion about her mission also robbed her of peace. She was right to be serving Jesus, but she mistakenly thought that serving was her primary mission. Jesus saw the confused priorities of this well-intentioned woman and commented, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and both­ered about so many things” (verse 41). In her efforts to serve God, Martha failed to remember that “man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” (Westminster Catechism, c.1675)

Martha was preoccupied with details and secondary concerns. Her ser­vice to Jesus had degenerated into mere busywork that was removed from any devotion to Him. And this focus on ser­vice rather than on the One she was serving prompted Jesus to instruct her by pointing out that her sister Mary had chosen “the good part” (verse 42) by sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to His Word, and abiding in His presence. (Oh, how many times I myself have acted like Martha!)

Like her sister, Mary’s mission was also to serve, but she also understood the more important priority of worship. Wanting her relationship with Jesus to be the highest pri­ority of her life, Mary made choices which reflected that desire. She knew when to quit serving… and start sitting.

Clearly, Mary’s mindset was pleasing to the Lord. As Jesus said, Mary had “chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (verse 42). She had her mind set on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2). She was focused on the eternal, not the temporal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

I know Mary is definitely a model I need for my hurri­cane lifestyle and, I’m guessing, a model you need, too! And so I try to remember this picture of Mary sitting… resting… worshiping… at peace…

Questions to Consider:

Take closer look at your own manner, mouth, mission, and mindset. What would an outside observer see in you right now—a Martha or a Mary? Are you in turmoil, or are you trusting and at peace? Are you running around in circles, or are you resting in the Lord? Are your words revealing a sense of panic and pressure? Are your actions reflecting the priorities God would have you set? Is your relationship with Him first, or are you too busy to sit at His feet and enjoy His presence?

If the cry of your heart is to exchange the clutter and chaos of everyday life for a simple focus on what really matters, pick up a copy of A Woman’s High Calling by Elizabeth George.

Read Panic or Pressure on Elizabeth & Jim George.


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