the one thing


I went to the laundromat yesterday morning with several loads of laundry. My washing machine at home has not been working this week, and I had to go out with twenty dollars in quarters to get it done!

It was actually nice to get it all done at once. Normally, it would take me a few days to get that much laundry done, but I finished it all in less than 2 1/2 hours. And I learned something valuable.

I am so much more productive when I focus on one thing at a time.

The nature of motherhood requires multitasking. But at some point, we cross from efficient multitasking into overwhelming busyness and our lives resemble the spin cycle of a washing machine.

I think we fall into the spin cycle because we are unable to prioritize unmet needs and unfulfilled responsibilities. We simply put too many things on our to-do list because it pains us to leave things undone. I am learning to go to the Lord and have Him to show me what He would like me to do. He can sort through everything and guide me toward what will be most fruitful and beneficial to my family in a particular day.

This passage comes to mind:

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

I often get annoyed with how these verses are used and interpreted in Christian circles. It’s likely because I am so much like Martha in the passage. The truth is that stuff has to get done. There are things that will never get done unless the momma stays up late or runs herself ragged. There’s not a lot of time to sit like Mary did (not in the demanding motherhood season that many of us are in). It takes some serious effort to set aside and guard the time to sit with Jesus.

We often think that the “one thing” we ought to be doing is always super spiritual because of the context of this passage. But what if Mary knew what the “better” thing was because Jesus communicated that to her? Maybe she asked Him what she could do, maybe He impressed it on her heart that evening, or she saw it in His eyes. Martha missed it because she had her eyes on all of the unmet needs and unfulfilled responsibilities. Mary knew what was needed because she had her eyes on Jesus.

What if I kept my eyes on Jesus and He showed me the one thing I should make a priority in the moment? He knows all things. He knows what my entire day holds. I could escape the spin cycle and actually be more productive, working from a peaceful place rather than a harried one. I could go from one thing to the next and not buckle under the weight of my to-do list. How can other things stress me when I am doing the one thing that He’s asked me to do?

Lord, show me! Lead me! Speak to me about the one thing I can do each moment of the day. I love how Your peace floods my heart when I have my eyes on You. May Your Spirit continually remind me to seek You, ask You, lean on You.

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Isn’t it true that all hell breaks loose on Sunday morning when you’re trying to get the family to church on time? None of us wants to bicker with the spouse or threaten the children through clenched teeth…but it happens. The enemy wants to be sure that we are completely wound up and distracted when we get to church.

It happened to us this past Sunday. One of the worst yet!  There were some heated exchanges in the car and lots of tears.

Later in the day, after the cold silence wore off, I really wanted to talk about what happened. My hubby wasn’t ready. The Lord prompted me to be quiet and wait for a better time to talk. It was really hard! The old me would have pressed and trampled on my husband’s heart…but I gave him time and space to think things through.

Meanwhile, however, I kept stewing on things. I became so self-righteous while creating my long list of wrongs against me. While falling asleep that night, and when I woke Monday morning, it was all I could think about. Rehearsing what I would say and do consumed me.

In the midst of my stewing, the Lord spoke to my heart and showed me something new. When I get upset about something, the enemy often works to convince me that it is SO urgent that I must talk about it and work it out immediately. God reminded me that I have a lifetime to work out some of the recurring issues in my marriage. Very few things are so urgent that I must press my husband to talk when he is not ready.  Knowing that the feelings of urgency were coming from the enemy allowed me to stop and put my concerns in God’s hands. I finally had the willingness to trust Him and wait for the right time.

Later on Monday, I received an email from my husband with his thoughts on what happened on the way to church… and an apology. The very first thing he wrote was about how grateful he was that I gave him space! That was the hardest part, but clearly the most valuable. In the end, I received the communication from him that I wanted. Not by pressing him, but by backing off.

This lesson about false urgency is so valuable to me. When I am overcome with emotions and concerns about something, I really need to go to God and lay it all out before Him. If it truly is urgent, then He will confirm that for me. Otherwise, I will wait on Him and proceed with loving caution.


Remember when some of Jesus’ disciples were walking along the road and He appeared to them after He had resurrected from the dead? Luke 24 says that they walked and talked with Christ, even invited Him in for a meal, but they did not recognize Him until “their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (verse 31). What I never realized until this morning was that just a few verses later in that chapter of Luke, we see something similar:

While they were still talking about (what happened with the disciples on the road), Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  (After some eating and discussion)  Jesus said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”  Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  (Lk 24:36,44-45)

There is definitely a theme here. Christ, through the presence of the Holy Spirit within us, has the power to open our eyes and our minds. When it seems that He is absent from our circumstances, He can open our eyes and show us His presence in that very moment. When we are reading the scriptures and we don’t understand, He can open our minds to understand what we are wrestling with. He can open our hearts to receive it and apply it appropriately.

People often ask me how I get such insight from God’s word when I teach or blog. Clearly, it is the Holy Spirit revealing truth to me. I make no claim to great depths of spiritual knowledge. Heck, I doubt my own sanity on a daily basis! If I were to recommend ONE thing to you in regard to studying and understanding the Bible, I would say to read the passage over and over again. Read it in several different versions. ( is excellent for this…you don’t have to buy a bunch of bibles.) When I teach, I read the passage I’m covering probably 50-75 times. Maybe more.

Why do we work so hard to figure out God’s will on our own?  Why do we pound the commentaries and bible dictionaries to make sense of the scriptures? While studying is important and I do it often, we often forget about the most important resource that we have. Christ’s very presence in us through the Holy Spirit. The Creator of the perfect plan for our lives, and the very author of the Bible are dwelling within us. We only have to press in, be quiet, and listen for the still small voice that will surely come.