Only one thing is essential

Confession time: I’m an avid reader, dreamer and deep thinker, and mostly I’m happy to be so. I can so easily lose myself in words, reading and reflections.

My parents grew impatient with this daydreaming girl with her head in the clouds and nose in a book. They gave no encouragement to pursue this pathway.

It’s not something I deliberately chose to be, but it’s the way God designed me as contemplative by nature, thirsty for knowledge.

There’s nothing I love more than discussing life and faith issues – including tricky theology sometimes – with my beloved over coffee, as and when I’m awake and alert enough to do so.

And sometimes I forget to switch off and resist all the pondering and questioning.

Sometimes I get tied up in knots on the inside and wonder how on earth I got there, and please won’t someone untangle me?

A mind can go into overdrive and make us weak with exhaustion, weary with worry, depleted with discussion.

I’m a naturally driven type of person and the slowing down which having M.E requires of me can cause huge frustration. Even after more than 20 years I still chafe at the restrictions it brings.

Inevitably, once a little bit of energy, ability and strength are available, the tendency is to take it by the horns and run with it until it is no longer there and I’m too spaced out to notice or to care.

But if I allow myself to have burnout from being too busy, then I’m prone to become more unwell and less of the person God desires me to be.

These latter summer days find me needing a great deal of rest in body, mind and spirit. I no longer have any ‘get up and go’ feeling unless it leads to bed.

Reading remains a great pleasure and a bit of a compulsion too, truth be told, because there are so many great books and blogs out there to feast on. A discerning woman in need of a helping hand doesn’t have far to look to find something edifying on the internet.

A word of encouragement? Sorted. A Bible study or prayer circle? Yes, sister. An insight or two? That will do nicely, thank you.

Although they are in fact no more than tasty, insubstantial snacks compared to the fullness of God’s word, and I’ve been in danger of filling myself up with those good, yet transitory things, and neglecting to make the Bible my main source of soul nourishment.

bible WoJ pin

We need the manna of His word, the rocket fuel it provides to see us through the daily, the sustenance and strength it gives for every circumstance, the encouragement and hope we need to keep going in ordinary days as well as when troubles come our way.

It’s all too easy to be satiated by the stuff we read and let it inform our thinking in ways which the Bible is meant to do.

Only one thing is essential and we are all the poorer for neglecting it.

And the more I read on-line, the more I can be drawn into making comparisons between that writer’s audience and engagement being huge compared to mine, or her words having a far greater reach and impact.

It can lead me into discouragement and fussing over whether or not I have the means (or desire) to build any kind of platform.

Wondering if it’s worth sharing at all when there are already so many better/wiser/louderย voices speaking about the topics dear to my heart.

I sense God speaking to me like Jesus spoke to Martha:

“Martha, dear Martha (or Joy, dear Joy.. feel free to insert your own name here), you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it – it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her” – Luke 10:27 – The Message – (bits in brackets and bold all mine).

As God sees it, we need to eat the essentials, feed on the favour He bestows, become satisfied by all our soul requires in relationship with Him.

He is asking me to heed the need to rest – physically, yes, but most of all in Him.

Only one thing is essential in this life and that’s getting to know God.ย When we’re in relationship with Him we can discover how He wants us to live, to write, to create for Him.

Because if we only look to others (wise and good as they may be) for our help, support and guidance we will soon lose our way, become confused and not see how God wants to lead and teach us via His word and loving companionship.

Other people can unwittingly drown us with their own demands, even if it’s the gently pleading ‘read this’ or ‘come join this group’ or ‘sit with us’.

I’m choosing the one thing essential for me and sitting with Jesus in quiet obscurity, which means engaging, reading and writing only as He indicates it’s fine to do so.

Trying to ignore the pressure of living up to the expectations of others as I follow where God is calling me to be.

summer stillness WoJ pin

These are Mary days for me as I finally grasp the need to still myself in Him, listen to His voice and be obedient to His will.

Maybe they are days which will produce writing/blogging fruit for the future, or just fertile soil for my soul. I don’t know.

Maybe you can hear a similar plea to draw aside for a while? If so, please don’t listen to me, do the one needful thing and listen to Him, see what Jesus is saying to your heart.

May I pray for you?

Loving Lord,

I lift my friend reading this to you. Be her wisdom and strength.

Guide her to abide close by your side, curled close to your heart.

Show her the ways in which she may have to slow in order to grow.

Reveal her heart’s deepest need and highest joy.

Help her to find her greatest soul solace and rest in relationship with you.

Keep her safe under the shadow of your wings, and reveal when she needs to spread her own and fly free.

Enable her to be aware when it’s time to pause, time to sit still and time to be active for you.

Help her to hear your voice and be comforted by your love, now and always.

Amen

Joining with soul sisters:

Holley at coffee for your heart

Jennifer at Tell His Story

Barbie at Weekend Whispers

18 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing the timeless truths of God’s gentle, essential pulse and rhythm, and wishing you true refreshment and deep content in these “Mary days”!
    “Trying to ignore the pressure of living up to the expectations of others as I follow where God is calling me to be” speaks to me so clearly and graciously today. Your words are touched by His Spririt, Joy, and may he bless you deeply for your openness and insight XXX

    1. Thank you, Joyce. I think I forgot to add one other essential thing:trying to ignore the pressure of living up to my own expectations! As you know only too well, we can so easily place huge burdens on ourselves, and desire great expectations for our daily lives which having M.E causes us to have to continually readjust. At the moment I am slow to unfurl fully into refreshment and relaxation, but I’m gradually appreciating the necessity of seeking God first and foremost. Over time, I hope to find my deepest rest in Him alone. Xx

  2. This is so insightful and encouraging as always, Joy. I love how you describe God’s Word as “rocket fuel” and how essential it is for us to cling to His Word above human words. I understand how pulled we can get into comparison sometimes. I will join you in “sitting with Jesus in quiet obscurity, which means engaging, reading and writing only as He indicates itโ€™s fine to do so.” I often long to be as Mary and sit at Jesus’ feet and let all other troubles and concerns fall away. My heart is touched by the prayer. Thank you. Praying the same for you. Hugs!

    1. Trudy, I’m so glad you share my soul longing. It’s good to have your company sitting at Jesus’ feet. May we both find our cares become released, “all other troubles and concerns fall away” and our hearts are blessed with desire to experience it more and more. I value your prayers, dear friend, and you have mine. Blessings and hugs to you too. ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  3. I’ve had a season like that – I don’t know if I’m just coming out of it or if I’m just living differently and going with the flow. I understand about slowing the mind down. I had to deal with compulsive thinking – just because I thought a lot, especially about problems and solutions, didn’t mean I thought well. I’ve had to learn to quiet my mind and just steep in Him. Praying that you find refreshing in your Mary moments – I love that phrase – we all need more of those!

    1. You touch me with your wise words here:”just because I thought a lot, especially about problems and solutions, didn’t mean I thought well”. Ouch and Amen, my friend! As I also “learn to quiet my mind and just steep in Him”, I pray you will maintain the inner peace which enables you to better go with the flow, and continue to seek hard after God’s heart in this new season you are in. Thank you for sharing your insights. Blessed by your visit!

  4. Beautiful words, sweet Joy. I once heard it said that the Bible is the ‘meat’ of our diet, while commentaries, books and the like are the seasonings. We would never consider consuming a meal that consisted only of salt and pepper, but are easily distracted from being in God’s word on a consistent basis. This was a great reminder of the things that are important.

    Much love,
    Kamea

    1. Hi Kamea. I love your description about the Bible being the “‘meat of our diet’ while commentaries, books and the like are the seasonings”. Such an apt saying! So true. Man (or woman) isn’t meant to live on flavourings alone. Thank you so much for adding to the conversation here with this helpful insight.

  5. Thank you Joy. What an amazing lesson. For me too. I think we are similar in character to another. That is really special. Though I did not suffer from ME or rheumatism.

    Your blog post makes my happy (joyous ) again and focused on Jesus.

    Greetings from the other side of the sea ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Aritha, if in my writing I can bless, encourage or offer hope to others, then I know God is using these words to speak through this imperfect vessel. I’m delighted and humbly grateful to hear how reading this post has increased your joy and focus on Jesus. That is no small thing. Greetings to you! ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  6. Oh my goodness – Amen, Amen & Amen:)
    Thank you for your encouraging words, important reminders, and the beautiful heartfelt prayers. Amen:)! God bless.

  7. Joy, your post is so true and a fine reminder for me. I am a reader, a retired teacher and children’s librarian. Books…books…I love them! I read and know that God’s Word is the ultimate source for all I need. Thanks for encouraging my heart, Joy.
    Kamea Hope’s words weave so well with your words.

    1. “Books…books…I love them!” Oh, a woman after my own heart! And to acknowledge your love of books yet still say, “I read and know that God’s Word is the ultimate source for all I need” reveals how much you are a woman after God’s heart first and foremost. And I agree, Kamea Hope’s words enrich the message here. Thanks for stopping by, Linda.

    1. Barbie, it’s always an honour to join in with Weekend Whispers. You write of things which my soul needs to hear too. Thank you for your kindness. I’m glad the prayer spoke to you, my friend. Blessings. ๐Ÿ™‚ x

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