The Power of Listening

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46

 

Our union with Jesus and His love transcends words. Our words are insufficient. Jesus used words and action in everyday life, of course, but in times of prayer He withdrew into solitude. Jesus is the Word. God doesn’t disapprove of our busy and active lives. He never says in Scripture to stop what we’re doing and forget all about work. In fact, the Word of God tells us just the opposite:

For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. — 2 Thessalonians 3:10

It’s our anxiety He addressed:

Let not your heart be troubled… Peace I give you, not as the world gives. — John 14:1, John 14:27, paraphrased

In the familiar account of Jesus and His disciples having dinner at the home of His friend Lazarus and Lazarus’s two sisters, Mary and Martha, a conflict arose. Mary forgot all about dinner and sat mesmerized by what Jesus was talking about. She sat enraptured, listening to His every word while Martha anxiously labored preparing food. Finally she burst into the room where Jesus was teaching and spouted out what amounted to, “Jesus, tell my sister to come help me. Here I am stuck with all the work while she does nothing.”

Jesus, in His sweet way, responded with, “Martha, Martha, you’re worried and upset about many things.” He told her that Mary had made a good decision when she chose to be still and sit at His feet to learn about God. He told Martha that few things in this life are actually necessary, but there was really only one thing that mattered and what Mary learned could never be taken away from her.

The practical side of me can’t help wonder if they ate at all that night. Did Martha take off her apron and sit down to listen too? Did her brother Lazarus get up and stir the soup? Did the bread burn in the oven? Maybe Jesus Himself set the table. Maybe they stayed up all night nibbling on burnt bread and cold soup while Jesus taught.

The words that remain with us like fire are His words to Martha: “Martha, Martha . . .”

It was not her busy activity Jesus addressed, but her anxiety. She was nervous and upset, and Jesus discerned that she was anxious about more than just the dinner. “Many things,” He said.

The early believers learned that sitting in silence and stillness was “the better part” that brought them inner peace and a deeper awareness of the mystery of God. Mary may have been familiar with Psalm 46,

Be still, and know that I am God.

Martha wanted to make sure they had a nice meal. After all, more than likely this was a special event.

Martha anxiously worked to get a meal together to feed the Lord.

Mary was sitting silently, being fed by the Lord. Jesus said that what she gained by sitting silently and listening calmly could not be taken away from her.

If we can sit still in the Lord’s presence like Mary did, then something that can never be taken away from us happens to us too.

Stress is stolen property. Stress doesn’t belong to you.
If stress were a gift from God, it would bring you joy.
Does stress bring you joy?

Everywhere we turn, people harp about the stress in their lives. Stress crushes what’s lovely in us. We lose who we are and why we’re on earth for such a time as this. Try increasing your daily sessions of Quiet Prayer to give the Lord Jesus the freedom to touch you deeply. He will show by His Spirit the one thing that’s necessary, the thing that can never be taken from you.

Excerpted with permission from Quiet Prayer by Marie Chapian, copyright Marie Chapian.

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Your Turn

Can you sit still in the Lord’s presence? Stress can be crushing. We all know that, right? But, the Lord is ready for us to sit at His feet and touch us in a meaningful way with His Presence. What is it that you want more than that? Be still. ~ Devotionals Daily

 

 

Marie Chapian, Pulitzer Prize nominee and New York Times best selling author, has published over 30 books translated in 17 languages. She has written and illustrated award winning books for children, three books of poetry, and is best known for her biographies and popular devotional books. Her award winning novel, "I Love You Like a Tomato," is written under her Italian name, Marie Giordano and two books of poetry under the name Marie Jordan. Her most recent books are "The Other Side of Suffering," co-authored with John Ramsey and "The Emancipation of Robert Sadler," the true story of a 20th century slave in America. Originally from Minnesota, Marie now lives and writes in Southern California.

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