It’s my last morning on the mountain where I’ve been on a mini-sabbatical. It’s been a respite of sorts on Pupukea on the North Shore of Oahu. (Thank you Auntie and Uncle for opening your hearts and home to me.)
It’s been a time to refresh and journal and write and pray. I had to work some, but I’d get that done at early o’clock in the morning and have the rest of the day to respite. And with my crazy schedule at home of work and ministry and kids and chaos, it was MUCH needed. MUCH!
I fell into an easy schedule of working and prayer and writing and rest. I’d be on the mountain in the morning and take the beautiful 5-minute drive down to the beach in the afternoon where my goal was to write. I don’t get much time to do that at home, and I wanted to get a year’s worth of it done while I was here. (An unrealistic idea for sure. But hey…a girl can dream, right?)
The third afternoon as I was sitting on Sunset Beach, I found it so difficult to write. Every few minutes I’d get distracted. The sun was glistening on the water like thousands of diamonds. The waves were crashing in all of their blue and turquoise and aqua beauty.
And the shells lying on the sand just waiting to be picked up were literally calling my name. I could hear them calling me.
After an hour of trying to focus, I finally put my journal away, took a little walk, picked up some shells and stared out at the sea. I was driven to write and I just kept getting distracted by paradise. And I felt guilty.
Guilty. Responsible for wrongdoing. Not writing and looking at the ocean instead felt wrong to me.
And then I remembered Martha and Mary. I wondered if Mary felt the least bit guilty when she first left Martha in the kitchen alone so she could sit at the feet of Jesus. Did she have to fight those thoughts, “I should be in the kitchen with Martha. This is wrong. I should get up now and go help her.”?
Did she have that feeling of self-reproach in the pit of her stomach? Or was she so distracted by Paradise (and the presence of God is the sweetest Paradise of all) that it wasn’t a struggle at all?
There’s definitely a time to work – to fix dinner and write and minister and give of yourself. A time to be Martha. And I think in our work-driven society, that one’s pretty easy for us. It is for me, anyway.
There’s also a time to rest. A time to sit in the presence of God, for sure…but I think we all know that. We need to be Mary and sit at Jesus’ feet.
But we also need to enjoy paradise – to just breathe and watch the waves crashing all around and be mesmerized by the sunlight dancing on the ocean. To take a walk and pick up a seashell or two (or 20….I love shells).
It’s okay to not do anything…not work…not pray…do nothing and just enjoy life.
“Be still, be calm, see, and understand I am the True God.
I am honored among all the nations.
I am honored over all the earth.” (Psalm 46:10 VOICE)
That word still can also be translated slothful, slack, or idle.
Slothful. Idle. Do absolutely nothing. I don’t know about you, but that’s hard for me. I’m good at working. I’m even good at praying and spending time at His feet.
But doing nothing? That one’s a bit more difficult for me.
I put those unrealistic expectations on myself of how much I had to write and what I wanted to get done on this trip. And what God really wanted was to just bless me with a trip to my favorite piece of paradise…with rest and refreshing and beautiful scenery and lovely people. And He wanted me to enjoy ALL of it.
Time to write was definitely in there…..but I noticed as I allowed myself to just sit on that beach, I was even more inspired. I think I wrote more in my journal that night than ever before. I’m so glad I let Him distract me with paradise.
Life doesn’t have to be either/or. It can be both/and. It’s not either you’re Martha or you’re Mary. It’s okay to be Martha and Mary. The trick is knowing which one to be when. Knowing when to work and when to rest, moment by moment. Day by day.
And the only way to truly know that is by being in an intimate walk with Him. Abiding in the vine so that you can hear minute by minute what He wants right then.
Jesus worked, and boy did He. He would also go to the mountainside to pray, sometimes all night long. But He also relaxed. He went to weddings and had dinner with friends at Martha and Mary’s house.
So I encourage you to take a step back today. Step away from the unrealistic expectations you put on yourself. Take a deep breath and enjoy the paradise that’s all around you.
It’s okay. You’re allowed.