I remember a time before cell phones. I remember a time before email and messaging when you actually had to sit down and write a letter if you wanted to communicate with someone who was not with you. When writing a letter, as opposed to texting, you have to put thought into what you want to say. You can’t say every random thing that crosses your mind. You have to narrow it down to what is important to you and what you really want to express to the person on the receiving end. With texting, you can say literally any thought that flits across your mind. We need no time to reflect before we send. We don’t limit our communication to what is important or valuable. From, “Ugh, these no show socks won’t stay on my heel” to “There’s a weird smell in the van,” the content of the plethora of messages we send is vastly different than it used to be in letters. I think that with the abundance of communication we have at our disposal, we have lost depth of communication.
I see the same thing with pictures. When I was little, you would buy a roll of film, which was not cheap, and you would have either 12 or 24 pictures to take. You would have to think long and hard before snapping a picture because there was a limited number. Each shot needed to matter. We didn’t take pictures of our dinner. Or a cute pair of shoes we wanted to consider buying. We didn’t take thousands of pictures of a vacation or a family gathering. We took about 24. Then, we had to take them to a store to be developed. About a week later, we had 24 photographs to put into an album and cherish for years to come.
I don’t even print out pictures anymore. Sorting through the tens of thousands of pictures on memory cards and cell phones is not a task I am up for. I have fewer pictures in albums now than I did when I was a child. In our abundance of pictures today, we have lost something. A great picture is no longer special. It’s just one of a million others, sitting in digital storage.
Remember when you had to wait a week to see the next episode of your favorite show? A television show used to be an event where the family gathered together, ready to see what went down this week. Maybe this week, Dr. Quinn would finally realize that it’s Sully that she loves. I remember the joy of discussing what had transpired in the latest episode with my friends at school. Remember when people would spend one hour watching a show during the week and not thirty? With our streaming services and entire seasons of every show under the sun at our fingertips, we’ve lost something (aside from irreplaceable time). The abundance of entertainment at our disposal is almost nauseating. Have you ever looked for something to watch on Netflix and just given up because there are so many choices that you just don’t even want to plow through it all? I have. We have so much, even in entertainment choices, that nothing is special anymore. It’s just more. It’s just too much.
I could go on and on. There is clothing. We have closets filled to capacity with clothes that we never wear. There are toys, more than our kids could ever play with, causing us no end of grief trying to manage them all. There are our schedules, running us ragged and weary to the bone. Why are we doing all of this? As I step back and look at life in America right now the words that come to mind are “too much.” We have too much of everything. Why? Why are we doing this to ourselves? What are we chasing? Do these things make us happy? Are we at peace? Does all of the running and consuming bring us joy? I think not.
I think if we were to ask the Lord what He thinks about all of our “too much,” He might answer in the same way He answered another person who was burning the candle at both ends. “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken from her.”
I believe He would ask us to trade our “too much” for one thing. Mary was abiding. She was sitting at His feet, listening, loving, receiving, being filled. To abide is to stay. It’s to make our home in Him and rest there. Regardless of what else we have going on. Mary understood that all she needed was found in a person. Jesus Christ. Not a task. Not possessions. Not accomplishments. Just Him. Just the everything that He is. So she stayed there…and she was filled.
Our time with the Lord is not to be one more thing tacked onto our schedule. It is to be the core of the schedule. The center hub connected to all other parts of our life.
That does not mean that we do nothing else but read the Bible and pray, though that is essential. It means that everything we do, we do with Him, because we are in Him, and we do this for His glory.
So when we are driving the kids home from basketball, our hearts are at His feet, like Mary. When we are in the bleachers among the other sports parents, we are connected to Him and on the lookout for people to love well in His name.
When we are making dinner or cleaning up, we are conscious that He us pleased with the way we are caring for the people He has given us, whether they are grateful or not. We do all things, in Him, under the covering of His love.
Maybe grasping the fact that only one thing is needed would help us lose the need for all of the “too much” that consumes us. Only He can provide what our souls are striving for, and He gives it freely. It is all in Him. He is the one thing.