June is always a month of recovery for me. Jamie and I run like madmen during Mantour season from January through early May. By the time Memorial Day comes around, I’m usually physically and emotionally exhausted. For me, June is a time to recoup, regroup and allow the Holy Spirit to give me direction for the upcoming year.
This year, I took a little extra time to focus not just on “what to do” but “who I want to be” while I do it. Recently, a little time with some friends gave me a clear vision of one of the choices I want to make in my life.
Here’s some background: Not having children of my own, one of my greatest joys is the opportunity to love other people’s children. I enjoyed every moment when I got to teach a group of tweens in Girl’s Ministry, I adored spending a summer teaching 3-5-year-olds, and I always love when I get to spend time with my friend’s kids.
Jamie and I love these kids. We’ve watched them grow up, and we love them like family. We try hard never to miss a birthday and remember their special occasions. We even drove several hours to see them in their Christmas play. Even though we only see them a few times a year, any time we see them is a good day. For the most part, they seem to have fun whenever they get to play with “Jamie and Dessa.” (Usually run together like they are the same name. :):)
The funny thing about these two little ones is they are very different. The oldest one is a people person. Whenever we visit, she hardly leaves our side from the moment we arrive til we go home. She plays with us, talks to us, crawls up on Jamie’s lap, and tells him jokes. When we are there, we are her main event. Even if her parents ask her to leave the room so we can talk to them, she’ll be back in a few minutes with a bucket of toys asking if we can have a tea party.
The younger one has a shorter attention span. He plays with us for a while, then goes off to do something else. He goes and plays with his toys or watches tv. He is in and out the whole time. Being younger, he tires more quickly and needs to nap, while the older one wouldn’t leave a party to take a nap if her life depended on it.
And this is fine. The differences are adorable and make us love them even more. We play with her the whole time we are there, and he joins in whenever he feels like it. We’re good with it.
That is until the little one starts breaking my heart by coming over to me with his lower limp out, whimpering, saying, “I want to play with you guys, too.” Or “When can I have a turn?”
This melts my heart every time and makes me feel so bad. Because I love these kids, and I would never, ever want to do something that would hurt either of their feelings. So, whenever this happens, I try to play with him for a while and give him lots of attention until he gets bored and wanders off to play on his own again.
Recently, when we were with them, it happened again. On this trip, we decided to spend some time at a park. As little ones do, they were busy playing ball, climbing monkey bars, and running all over. It was adorable. Still, after about an hour in the sun, Jamie and I decided to go back to the house and cool off. We told our friends where we’d be, and I started walking while Jamie rode his scooter.
As soon as the older child saw we were leaving, she wanted to come along. Hopping up on Jamie’s scooter, they rode along, honking the horn most of the way back to the house. When we got back, we put the scooter back in the car.
A few minutes later, the rest of our group, including the younger sibling, returned from the park. It didn’t take long for an upset younger child to sniffle over to Jamie, saying, “I wanted to ride the scooter, too. Why didn’t you come back for me?”
We were mortified.
Never in a million years would we want to hurt the feelings of this little one we love so much. Yet, he was busy playing and never said he wanted to ride the scooter.
After we went home, Jamie and I discussed whether we were doing something that made him feel he wasn’t included. However, after much thought, we’ve concluded that this isn’t our fault. The truth is that whenever we go to visit, we are available to play with the kids the whole time. While the older one chooses to spend every moment with us playing and having fun, the younger child chooses to be in and out, play with his toys, watch tv, or nap. It wasn’t our choices that made him feel left out. It was his choice. We were there the whole time, ready to play.
Almost as soon as these words came out of my mouth, I could see a spiritual parallel. I remembered that so often, as Christians, we ask, “Why don’t I have the same relationship with God that SHE does? Why is God moving in and thru her and not me? Does God like her better?”
Of course, the answer is “No.”
God loves us all equally.
Like we are always ready, waiting, and hoping that our friend’s kids want to play with us when we visit, God is always willing, waiting, and available for us to develop a relationship with Him.
However, ultimately, we are the ones who choose whether we will climb up in His lap and soak in His presence, run in and out because we’ve got other things to do, or ignore Him altogether. (For the record, we are never ignored when we visit—we’re fun!)
As this truth settled in my mind, my immediate response was to renew a commitment I have made repeatedly in my heart throughout my life.
I choose to be a woman who runs into her Heavenly Father’s arms, crawls up on his lap, and enjoys every benefit of a personal relationship with Him.
I don’t want prayer and Bible reading to be something I cross off my “to-do” list. I want to spend time with God.
I want to share my heart with Him and hear His voice speaking back to me.
I want to give Him more than a piece of my day. I want my entire life to be spent walking alongside Him—Him leading, Me following.
Once again, I was reminded of the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42.
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.
Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.
But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
But the Lord said to her, “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 away from her.”
In this passage, Jesus and His disciples were visiting Jesus’ friends. It’s important to remember that Mary, Martha, and Lazarus weren’t just a stop on the road trip—-they were Jesus’ closest friends. He loved them as much as I love my friends and their little ones.
I’m sure Jesus looked forward to the visit where He could relax and be with people He loved. Away from the crowds who always needed something from Him—healing, a deliverance, or a miracle— and His haters who were always trying to trap Him. This house was filled with friends.
Everyone was excited He was there. Only they handled it differently. Martha put on the ritz—making sure everything was perfect. She prepared the best food, made sure the house was clean, and everything was perfect for her honored guest.
Mary took a different approach. Much like my little friend who doesn’t leave our side whenever we visit, Mary was all about Jesus. She was going to spend every moment with Him that she could. Nothing was going to deter her.
When Martha complained about Mary’s choice, Jesus actually corrected Martha saying that Mary made the right choice—spending time with Jesus rather than being busy serving Him.
I think it’s fitting that as I was asking God to help me regroup and remember who He wanted me to be so that I could do what He wanted me to do, the Holy Spirit first challenged me to recommit to being a Mary.
Remember that there will always be things to do—the list is never ending and continually increasing. Yet, it is MY choice whether I slow down, prioritize, and remember that nothing on that “to-do” list is as important as spending time with Jesus.
Just being with Him.
Not so I can write a book, a blog, or a sermon, not so I can serve in church or on a committee, but simply so that I can remember that He loves me and I love Him. That love is the basis for everything.
Today, I want to challenge you to reevaluate your own choices.
Are you a Mary or a Martha? Actually, I hate that question because every sermon I’ve ever heard has either condemned or excused Martha’s behavior.
But do you know what Jesus was really saying?
He was inviting Martha to have a seat next to Him.
He was saying, “It’s okay, Martha, stop worrying. I didn’t come for the food or the house. I came to be with you. I love the three of you—Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Come sit with me. Let’s spend some time together. That’s what’s most important."
Everything else is going to pass away…but our relationship with God is forever. It’s eternal.
Jesus wasn’t choosing favorites. He didn’t like Mary more than Martha. He wanted to spend time with them both. Ultimately, the choice rested with them.
Today, it rests with us—who do we want to be?
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry."
“Finding Significance” is a study of Jesus’ life and His interactions with people while He was on earth. As you read you’ll discover that no matter what label the world had placed on people, Jesus spoke words of significance and purpose into their lives. Ultimately, His entrance into their lives changed their entire identity. It’s our hope that as you read this book and answer the study questions, you will be challenged and inspired to grow in your personal relationship with Jesus, that you’ll see yourself through His eyes, and ultimately find that He is the Source of Your Significance. Whether you work through it during your time of devotions, or use it as a group Bible study, we believe this book will speak words of truth, hope, and significance into your life. We just can’t wait to share it with you!!!