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Starr Ayers: The good part

“Clocks were created to make us the stewards of our time but sometimes end up making us nervous.” — Calvin Miller


An Irish proverb asserts, “When God made time, he made plenty of it.” Still, the incessant ticking of the clock as I write my first 2023 Hub devotion reminds me of how quickly time passes. Instead of clocks inviting us to slow down and appreciate each moment, the sweeping second-hand pushes us forward. Soon, like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, we’re racing to stay ahead, fearing we’ll somehow be left behind. 


In today’s frenetic society, times of stillness are rare. If we stop and take a moment to breathe, there’s the temptation to admonish ourselves for wasting time and the compulsion to rise and do something. We often bow to what author Charles Hummel called “the tyranny of the urgent,” living in constant tension between the urgent and the important. In life’s hustle, it’s easy for us to exchange what’s essential for things we perceive as necessary, to allow the pressing things to crowd out those of greatest significance.


Jesus addressed this with Martha when she came to Him concerned that Mary wasn’t helping her prepare for their guests but was sitting at His feet, hanging on His every word. Jesus said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; but only one thing is necessary; for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42 NAS).


Being good stewards of our time means choosing “one thing — the good part,” but what did Jesus mean? Was Martha’s service less essential than Mary’s devotion? Backing up to Luke 10:40 may give us our answer. 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 the serving by myself? Then tell her to help me.’ ”


We know what Martha was distracted by, but what was she distracted from? The “one thing” Mary wasn’t — their guest. It wasn’t that Mary hadn’t served. Martha says she “left me to do the serving by myself.” Mary had left what was pressing for the good part, and it began at the feet of Jesus. Mary’s life had balance. Does mine? Does yours?


Let’s commit to slowing down in 2023. Take time to breathe and spend quiet moments with the Creator of time — the One who sees the end from the beginning and knows everything in between. Sitting at the feet of Jesus is where time starts and stops, where it melds into eternity, and where God’s priorities become our own. 


“Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:16-17 NIV).