by Pr Paddick Van Zyl
Sermon by Pr Paddick Van Zyl 15 Aug 2014
The Distraction Syndrome
Have you ever had your day go from peace and quiet to our of control and chaotic? I am sure most of us have experienced this at one time or another. Travis Bradberry is quoted as saying: ‘The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. Talent Smart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.’ (1)
Jesus was always calm and in control, wasn’t He? He never lost it….
Luke 10 :38-42 NIV
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 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!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
In these five short verses of Luke 10 we find Jesus giving excellent counsel to Martha. Jesus after being on His feet for probably most of the day, preaching, teaching, exhorting now finds Himself as the guest of Martha and Mary. Tired and seeking some rest, He sat down or rather reclined on the cushions waiting for dinner to be served. Yet, the guests probably still asked Him questions and wanted to glean more from the Master Himself as we see in verse 39:
39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching (ESV)
The entire party of guests would probably have been contend with just a slice of bread and a mug of water and continued listening to Jesus than having a sumptuous spread prepared for them. The food that was to be served by Martha, would satisfy for only a couple of hours whereas the living bread that Jesus was serving would last forever and bring about a change in heart. Really, what was more important? Mary, knew the answer to this question all too well, that is why she chose to sit at His feet and drink in the words of life. She could always eat later…something she had probably done before and survived from. However Martha, her dear sister, was troubled:
40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. (NIV)
41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, (ESV)
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. (NIV)
She was not concentrating on anything Jesus was saying. She was anxious, troubled, and probably a control freak. We all know someone that is a ‘control freak’- always busy, always trying to control the flow of things in their and others’ lives. And God made these people with a special ability to sort the chaos from the calm so we may all focus. Controlling something is not wrong in it self but it can, and this we should guard against, get out of control. I suspect that Martha’s controlling & organizing gift got totally out of control on this day that Jesus was their guest for dinner.
‘Want to know if you're a control freak? Here are eight signs (2) for your self-diagnosing pleasure.
You believe that if someone would change one or two things about themselves, you'd be happier. So you try to "help them" change this behavior by pointing it out, usually over and over.
You micromanage others to make them fit your (often unrealistic) expectations. You don't believe in imperfection and you don't think anyone else should either.
You judge others' behavior as right or wrong and passive-aggressively withhold attention until they fall in line with your expectations. Sitting in silent judgment is a master form of control.
You offer "constructive criticism" as a veiled attempt to advance your own agenda.
You change who you are or what you believe so that someone will accept you. Instead of just being yourself, you attempt to incept others by managing their impression of you.
You present worst-case scenarios in an attempt to influence someone away from certain behaviors and toward others. This is also called fear mongering.
You have a hard time with ambiguity and being OK with not knowing something.
You intervene on behalf of people by trying to explain or dismiss their behaviors to others.
You believe that if you can change another person's undesirable behavior, then you will be happier or more fulfilled. You make someone else responsible for how you feel.’
Have you ever had to prepare dinner for a very important guest, your husbands boss or the pastor? You had everything under control: the kids, the dogs, the extended family and the dinner menu. Then something happens. Something small. Your spouse announces matter-of-factly that: ’Oh, by the way, can we please add another 3 guests for dinner?
Right there, ‘3 extra’ is where the trouble starts. Calm kicks over into panic, which becomes anxiety, which ends up in chaos. Distraction and trouble is the end result. Just like Martha. She had it all under control. Prepared way in advance for this nice dinner. All was going smoothly then what does she see from the corner of her eye? She could hardly believe it: Mary, her sister, is just sitting. Sitting and listening to Jesus. Not helping her serve the guests.
Jesus, sees this and He calms her anxious soul with the words: 42b Mary has chosen the good portion [bthat which is to her advantage], which shall not be taken away from her. (AMP)
‘It is to your advantage Martha to be sitting here as well, to calm down, we will all eat and be satisfied, even if the food get’s cold (by the way, miracles are my trademark) listen to My words and get rest for your emotions. No need to stress or be in control all the time. Relax and enjoy the conversation with us…’ (paraphrased)
Are you in a place of anxiety and trouble today? Do you always need to be in control? Jesus is saying to you: relax, come and sit down and calm down, listen to Me….
Brian Tracy said: ‘You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.’*
Chris Pine also said: ‘The only thing you sometimes have control over is perspective. You don't have control over your situation. But you have a choice about how you view it.’**
I like what Kevin Garnett said about control: ‘At the end of the day, you're responsible for yourself and your actions and that's all you can control. So rather than be frustrated with what you can't control, try to fix the things you can.’ ***
Mary should have gotten in help from heir neighbors for this occasion. She could have altered the menu slightly so that everyone maybe help themselves, a kind of a a-la-carte dinner.
Life, especially today, has a tendency of robbing us from the important things we need to attend to. Spending time with Jesus, spending time with family and loved ones. Time seem to dictate our lives and routines. It is very easy to loose control of any situation. But if we will learn to give everything over to Jesus at the start of each new day, and ask the help of the Holy Spirit in everything we have to do and plan and accomplish, we will be amazed at how our day turns out.
God is a God of order not chaos. He is the Prince of Peace not of turmoil. Spending time in the Father’s presence brings not only joy and calm but it also prepares us for any situation we may face during the day, enabling us to have the right words to say, the time to fit everything in to our schedule without the stress.