What Mary Teaches Us About Abiding

My wife, Jenaye, and I recently got a new puppy named Jasper. I was cautious about the responsibility of a dog because we both work full-time. But with the start of COVID-19, we figured that now may be the best time. We have had him for a month now, and he brings us so much joy! From training him to cuddling him, we often find ourselves chuckling at this pre-baby parenting experiment. One of my favourite parts about having Jasper is that he sleeps on my feet most days while I work. Whenever I move, he quickly wakes up and begins to follow me (probably hoping it’s time for another meal or trip to the park). It’s funny how content dogs are to simply sit with us or follow us when we move.
Recently, I was reading the story about Martha and Mary in Luke 10. If you don’t know it, let me give you a quick rundown. There are a bunch of people gathered at a house where Jesus is teaching. While Martha is busy preparing food, she becomes frustrated when she realizes that Mary is not helping but sitting with the others, listening to Jesus. Martha, who many of us with siblings can relate, goes to Jesus and demands he tell Mary to help her with the preparations. God spoke to me through Jesus’ response in verse 41, when He says,

Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it won’t be taken from her.

Luke 10:41

Busy. Upset. Frustrated. Blaming others. Complaining to Jesus.
I feel that.
Just like Martha, in this COVID-19 season, I have been busier than usual—trying to support the young adults in the ministry that I lead, be a good family member, step up to help in new areas at my church, and potty train our dog that I’m afraid may be suffering from IBS. Feelings of frustration and comparison have crept in and I’ve found myself, like Martha, going to Jesus with a list of things He should fix in others.
Jesus, however, has also reminded me about what matters most. And unlike Mary, we don’t even have to have Jesus over for dinner to connect with him; we have God’s Spirit inside of us, which means that it’s easier than ever to sit at the feet of Jesus.

What if our relationship with Jesus could look like how Jasper’s is with me?
What if instead of running around the streets like a stray, looking for food, trying to survive, being fearful, anxious, always running, we just sat at the feet of our father?
What if we remained at His feet? Waited with Him? Abided.
But what is abiding? And what stops us from doing it? I think to walk in the Spirit and experience God’s presence is abiding. That sounds like mystical, pentecostal language or something though. How do we practically do THAT? Well for me, it starts with prayer but is reflected in all the disciplines. So often I find myself struggling to spend time with Jesus…but why? There are three things that I now look out for in my life that are often the culprit:
  1. Busyness. When there is so much going on in my life, it becomes hard to practice sabbath, get into God’s word daily, pray throughout the day during breaks, and leave white space in my calendar. The truth is that intimacy with Jesus can’t happen when I don’t make time.
  2. Distraction. This one often sneaks up on me, when I spend too much time on my phone, messaging friends all day, hopping on youtube, skimming Facebook marketplace for the latest deal on houseplants. We have to be so intentional in controlling our lives to create spaces where we can connect with God.
  3. Competency. What I have been learning recently is that prayer comes from dependency and desperation. Do we feel dependent? Desperate? I would like to think that I have my life under control. And let’s be honest, who wants to look desperate? But what if abiding in Jesus can’t happen without them? Is He our daily bread? Do we long for His Spirit? When I think I can do this life on my own, have a good marriage, and be a good leader, I fall into the trap of self-reliance. It’s through humility that we come to see how in need we are of a saviour. This recognition is not once for our lives, but daily for our living.
Jasper has been teaching me a lot. Each day, when my foot falls asleep because he’s getting heavier from all the rocks he eats, it reminds me that I want to sit at the feet of my Father. I want to wait on Him. Rest with Him. And then when He moves, I will follow. I may not always be sure where we are going, but I know we will go together.

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About the Author: josh thompson

Josh serves as the Young Adults Pastor at Sanctus Church in Ontario. He and his wife, Jenaye, spent 20 years in Edmonton, where their families still live. Josh is passionate about developing young leaders and loves seeing people discover their identity and calling in Christ. He’s still a loyal Oilers fan and is an avid plant collector much to his wife’s dismay.