Posted by: glorifyhim1 | October 2, 2011

This One Thing

Many of you who read my blogs may remember reading about our oldest dog, dear Dixie. Dixie was a small, mixed-breed dog, weighing about 25 pounds, who belonged to my father-in-law. When my father-in-law passed away about 5-1/2 years ago, we inherited Dixie. Although we were unsure how she would adjust to living with us, we never had to worry. She fit right in with our family and other pets and being an outside dog, she became the immediate guardian and protector of her new home and family.

Dixie was already an old dog when she came to live with us, but her spirit and sweet personality belied her age. However, over the past few years we have watched her age catch up with her as she became more feeble. Although she continued to stand guard when we were out in the backyard, her hearing and vision were almost gone. A benign growth on her stomach which the vet had recommended to leave alone because of her age, continued to grow until it almost drug the ground. Yet her problems never seemed to dampen her spirit – or her appetite since eating seemed to be her favorite activity.

Dixie had always been an outside dog, but she had a doggy door into an outside building, a dog house, and a fenced in yard, so we didn’t really worry too much when we heard reports of a fox in the neighborhood. We had seen foxes around before and they never attempted to get into the fenced-in backyard. But in the wee hours of Sunday morning, that is just what happened. We were awakened to a commotion and although we didn’t see the fox, we sadly discovered that Dixie had. Her left front paw was bleeding where she had been bitten. And from the horrible sounds we heard, we were certain the animal was rabid. Then the sickening feeling hit me – her rabies shot was overdue!

Although she may have been protected from previous vaccinations, since she was overdue, the rabies control officer gave us only two options – either have her put to sleep or quarantined for 6 months at a vet’s office at our expense. Without saying a word, we knew our only option was to have her put to sleep. Even if the cost of quarantining her were not a problem, we knew that a dog in Dixie’s condition would not survive a six-month’s quarantine.

I cannot tell you how this has haunted me all week. I dearly loved Dixie. I helped give her baths and flea treatments. I fed her – and fed her – and fed her. I bought her favorite dog treats and talked to her like she was a kid. Yet I had failed to do the one thing that could have saved her life. I remembered receiving the notice for her rabies booster earlier in the year. Although I needed to do it, it was just one of those things I kept putting off. After all, Dixie was old. She wasn’t chasing squirrels or groundhogs like she used to. She was a sweet dog, not the least bit aggressive. She never left our fenced-in backyard. The rabies booster just didn’t seem that urgent at the time. But now I know better.

And then it hit me. How many other really important things am I allowing to be overshadowed by less important things? I am reminded of Jesus’ rebuke of Martha when she complained that Mary, her sister, was not helping her. “And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42). What was the one thing the Mary had chosen? Mary had chosen to devote herself completely to Jesus’ teaching.

This story has always been one of my favorites in Scripture, primarily because I can see myself in Martha. If I have company coming (I can only imagine if Jesus were coming!), I’d be the one cooking, cleaning, and trying to make sure that everything was just right for my guests. While there is nothing necessarily wrong with this response, the problem is that all the extra activity can cause me to get anxious, tired, and perhaps even a little grumpy. Like Martha, I can look around at others who are not nearly as busy and begin to feel sorry for myself. Instead of sitting and enjoying my company, I’m wearing myself out taking care of all the details. But then I am immediately convicted as I hear Jesus’ response: “Martha, Martha, …. one thing is needed.”

Jesus wants us more than anything that we can do for Him. When asked by one of the scribes which commandment in the law was the greatest, “Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment” (Mark 12:29-30). While things we do can show our love for Jesus, sometimes they are more about us than Jesus. We can be motivated by selfish interests, perhaps even a desire to impress and be recognized. Sometimes the things we do can be activities that we enjoy or want to do and not what Jesus may be asking us to do. Even our good acts of service can sometimes be self-serving and self-focused and have little to do with responding in obedience to Jesus.

Mary’s love for Jesus is seen later in Scripture prior to Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus is again visiting in the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany. During this visit, Mary anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair (John 12:1-7). Although Judas decried the waste of the precious oil which could have been sold and the money used for the poor, Jesus replied, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always” (John 12:7). Mary’s act was one of humility and devotion. She was offering the best she had to Jesus.

Our love for Jesus should be a natural response to the One who loved us and died for us. But how do we show our love to Jesus? Jesus stated: “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Again He stated: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23). Just as Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to His words, we too show our love when we desire to know His teachings and do what He says. The apostle James urged believers to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). As we are obedient to Jesus’ teachings and reach out in love to others, we not only show our love for Jesus, but we also show the world Jesus’ love as He moves us to be His instruments to reach out and show love to others.

The apostle Paul was a wonderful example of a sold-out soul seeking to live for Jesus. He told the Philippians: “but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). Sometimes, to reach forward we have to forget our past mistakes and failures. We must confess them to God, repent, and turn, and keep our eyes on Jesus. At other times, we may need to forget past successes and accomplishments. As long as we live, there is work to be done. We must keep moving forward with our eyes on Jesus.

I think Scripture bears out that Martha heard and received Jesus’ words to her. When her brother Lazarus died, she approached Christ in faith  Even before Christ raised her brother from the dead, she declared: “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (John 11:27). Martha had now grasped that one thing that was needed. Fast forward to Bethany again before the Passover. Martha, Mary, and Lazarus had made a supper for Jesus, and guess who served! Martha is still serving, something that she does best, but this time she does not appear to be anxious or troubled. She is serving her Lord out of love and devotion.

I want to learn, like Martha, to keep my eyes on Jesus and to remember His reminder that one thing is needed. How sad to think we could live our entire lives and be consumed, perhaps not with the unimportant, but the less important. I know from experience the terrible regret I felt over my neglect to give Dixie the one thing that could have saved her life. Yet how much greater the regret to finish our lives and realize that we had missed the one thing really needed. But now we know better.

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Responses

  1. I am sorry for your loss but I love to hear/read of people who can see Jesus applications in every day practical events! Thank you for sharing and for your vulnerability.

    • Thanks for your encouragement, Debbie. I appreciate your reading this devotion and taking the time to comment.


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