work and play
family and friends
career and family
God and man

We all have things we balance on a daily basis, and perhaps some are on the list above.  For some of us it seems a little less like an exercise in balance and more like a complicated session of juggling.  We feel as though we must allocate just the right amount of time and energy to the proper persons or activities, but Jesus told Martha in Luke 10 that only one thing is necessary.
38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

I am not saying that we are to be lazy or antisocial - notice that Jesus did not chastise Martha for serving.  We have responsibilities and are called to service, but I think sometimes we can get distracted by those that are not serving.  Often we look at the task at hand which at times can be quite daunting, and we begin shifting our eyes to the right and to the left to those who we think could help but aren't.  It is in moments like these that my attitude takes a turn for the foul, and it is all downhill at that point.  Then these verses come to mind - "you are worried about so many things, but only one thing is necessary."  I can hear my Mom and Dad telling me that "you can't worry about what everyone else is doing, you have do what God asks of you."  Another person's actions or inactive state is not the problem - the problem is my attitude which altered when my eyes were not on Jesus and my task.

Mary chose the good part, the one thing that was necessary - sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to His word.  During those times when my attitude needs serious adjustment, I must come back to that necessary part.  Just as we cannot adequately exercise our physical bodies without proper nourishment, we cannot adequately serve our church or our community without sitting at His feet listening to His word.  Sometimes we have to "be still and know that He is God." (Psalm 46:10)  That's a difficult one for me - the being still and knowing that He is God.  In my finite mind I feel as though I have to do everything if it is going to be completed and completed the way and at the time I want it to be.  However, that way of thinking is so very contrary to God and His character which leads to me being stubborn and arguing with God.  I must tell you that never really ends well for me - I just have to choose to let Him have it, to surrender my stubborn heart to Him.  What can I say - work in progress here!  These days I am learning the balance of the following list...

grace and truth
femininity and strength
being still and service
yes and no
food and exercise


thus far...

In 1 Samuel 7, the ark has been returned to the Israelites, the people have repented of their sins, and returned to God.  Upon their return, God defeats their enemy and Samuel places a stone called an Ebenezer as a reminder to the Israelites that "thus far the LORD has helped us."  (1 Sam. 7:12)  I love that it says "thus far" - not that the character of God would change, but it serves as a marker for the people of Israel.  Like the mile marker on the side of the highways, this marker indicates Israel's current position as well as how far they have come.  I think we all need these markers, moments or mementos that remind us where we are and where we have come from, as a place of reference to return to when we falter or when things do not seem to be going as we think they should.

The other thing that is so encouraging to me is that Ebenezer does not mean "thus far I have been perfect" or "thus far I have made it on my own."  No, it is "thus far the LORD has helped us."  The people of Israel failed, they stopped serving the God of their fathers, and they worshiped idols - images that they had created.  Stop before you say that they were crazy for bowing down to some statue - an idol can be anything you put where God should be in your life.  I don't know, maybe that doesn't leave the same punched in the gut feeling with you that it gives me.  Maybe you are perfect and have it all together - this is probably the wrong blog for you as I am nowhere near perfection.

I am so easily distracted which leads to just the slightest drift off course; the only problem with a slight drift is that the longer it goes unchecked, the further you are from where you are supposed to be.  The difference for Israel is that they returned and repented.  We all will have times when we miss the mark - it's what you do afterwards that counts.  Return to God with ALL of your heart and remove distractions, idols, anything that you have replaced God with - those are the instructions to Israel, and those are the instructions to all of us.  These are God's instructions to me.  Return.  Repent.  Have your Ebenezer moment.

"Thus far the Lord has helped us."  Ebenezer is not the completion of the journey.  "Thus far" denotes that we have not yet reached our destination.  From the beginning until now, God has been with us and helped us and provided for us - Ebenezer is simply the marker, reminder of the character of God so that we can deny the distractions and give every piece of our hearts to God on a day-to-day and moment-to-moment basis.

Some days, you just need to return and repent and look at the Ebenezer moments in your life.