As a college student, I always liked kicking my summers off with a good lie to myself. It would start each May just as finals were coming to a close. I would make big plans for my ideal summer full of rest. I was going to spend time with Jesus every day, read educational books, pick up running, have a robust prayer life, and sleep well. I was going to walk on campus in the Fall absolutely glowing because I was so full of the Holy Spirit, well-rested, and also super tan from all the runs I would go on outside.
So imagine my confusion when, somehow, my time with Jesus every day turned into sleeping until noon. The books I was going to read were actually Netflix shows. And my morning runs became running late to work in the morning because my robust prayer life looked more like not knowing how to say no to any social invitation. So all of a sudden it’s August and although I was tan, I was definitely not well-rested or feeling well-connected to Jesus. Once again, my real summer felt like a real waste of three months.
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.”
I want to introduce (or maybe reintroduce) you to a unique approach to interacting with scripture called lectio divina. Lectio divina is a way of meditation and prayer that leads us to better connection with God through His word. Using the passage above, follow these steps to meet Jesus in the story of Martha and Mary.
Find a comfortable position to sit in. Center yourself by taking three deep breaths. Calm your body, release any tension you might be feeling. Invite the Holy Spirit to quiet the distractions around so you can focus in the next few moments.
Read the passage out loud, slowly. Take a few minutes to reflect. What does this passage say?
Read the passage out loud again. This time, as you read, take note of any words or phrases that stick out to you. Take a moment to reflect. Why is this particular word or phrase catching my attention?
Read the passage out loud one last time, taking note of the word or phrase that stood out to you as you read. Take a moment to reflect. Ask the Lord, “What do you have for me in this? What are you trying to say to me?”
Spend a few moments in prayer thanking Jesus for this time with Him and for the ways He’s speaking.
In our passage, you’ll notice two very different characters. We have Mary who represents the ideal summer and Martha who looks a lot like the real summer. Martha is doing the most, cooking, cleaning, and trying to host the literal Messiah well. Doing all the things in front of her that needed to be done because someone had to do it! Although none of these things are bad things, they’re still not the best things. We watch Jesus gently remind us of the only thing that is needed, being with Him. What would it look like if our ideal summer actually was our real summer? How would it feel to walk back on campus in the Fall feeling well-rested and truly connected with Jesus? Of course, it’s easier said than done, but you already have a great place to start, lectio divina. Short passages in the gospels that center Jesus and His interactions with His people are great places to camp out for lectio divina. You could also check out the Pray As You Go app for guided scripture meditation activities. Taking even 10 minutes a day to slow down to spend time in scripture at Jesus’ feet asking him, “Lord, what do you have for me?” is the perfect way to set yourself up for a day, a month, and a summer of doing what is better, being with Him.