Only One Thing is Needed

I lay on my couch in exhaustion; throat burning and head throbbing. Lately it has seemed that every day off I have my body gives out and is in desperate need of recovery. Ever since I had a ‘hitting rock bottom’ experience two and half years ago, my tank has seemed more limited than it used to. As I have walked down this often bleak & difficult path of grief, anxiety, and fears, days of tiredness have come more frequently as a warning that I am pushing myself too hard. So, there in the comfort of blankets and pillows, my eyes drift upwards and become fixed on the wooden sign that is central to our living room.

“Only One Thing is Needed.”

I remember back to three years ago when I was writing and recording the song with the title that inspired this piece of art, spoken first by Jesus in the well known scripture story about Mary & Martha. It doesn’t cease to amaze me how many more layers have been carefully peeled off my heart since that time and how much more etched into my being this concept has become since first penning those words.

Words, that seem magnified all the more when my body feels broken; when I don’t have the energy to over analyze or tick off another box on my ‘to-do’ list, when I can’t deny my own weakness and I willingly give myself over to the Truth that I am in desperate need of the life that God offers.

It hasn’t always been this way.

Like a horse determined to be its own master, I have run stubbornly in circles refusing to yield until I have collapsed in sheer exhaustion. And then only to find that yielding wasn’t unto my slavery but actually unto my freedom. Unbeknownst to me I was a slave to the running. The One who graciously ran me in circles was not trying to be cruel but was instead readying this exhausted heart to receive: not His mastery, but His love.

Just as Jesus quieted the anxious heart of Martha and encouraged Mary in her sitting before Him, He also gently invites me into the ‘One Thing Needed.’

…Having a heart that is irrevocably His; willing to rest in His presence and to live in the light of the words that He speaks, despite the clammer that surrounds our outside world.

For just as Martha was well aware, dinner preparations have to be made, the dishes pile up, plans are thwarted, disappointment looms, hope seems but a distant prayer, hearts are broken, and bodies don’t work the way they were supposed too. And yet in all of this and more: we can be like Mary. In fact we are invited to do as she did; resting at His feet in the midst of it all.

In those moments when I am reminded of my weakness, I will choose to give thanks to God rather than curse my own insufficiency. For sometimes it is only when circumstances or our own striving that leave us levelled with the ground that we are quiet enough to hear His gentle invitation to truly come and rest; to receive His love, to be made new in His presence, and to enter into the secret place of joy of the ‘One Thing Needed.’ 

In His Grace,

— Jalene Elsa

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