It Will Not Be Taken Away from Me

—Jeremy Purvis, Ruling Elder

The following scenario has happened to me more than once.

Some critical event is approaching—a presentation, grant deadline, or difficult conversation—and I am preoccupied by it. I plan around it, prepare for it, and work hard to mask my irritability toward innocent bystanders. Then, just as the final minute comes, disaster strikes: a flat tire, sick child, ice storm, or some other emergency suddenly needs my attention. Like a puff of smoke, that all-important event vanishes into thin air. What was once so important becomes embarrassingly small as I realize how little it really mattered in the first place.

This scenario is similar to one Luke tells us about in his gospel. It is a story about two sisters, Mary and Martha. Martha is famously bustling around the kitchen preparing food for her special guest, Jesus. Mary, meanwhile, is sitting around and listening to Jesus, doing (apparently) nothing. Martha’s irritation rises to the point that she rebukes Mary for not helping, and even asks Jesus to take sides with her. What happens next is amazing. Jesus corrects Martha by teaching her that Mary has chosen to do the right thing. He then delivers this crunching line that has been ringing in my ears for the past few days:

“…and it will not be taken away from her.”

With this statement, Jesus not only approves of what Mary does, but he defends her actions as absolutely necessary, to the point that it would be impossible for anyone to change them. Apparently, the opportunity to spend time with the Master is the irrevocable right of any follower of Jesus Christ.

This message is certainly for me. I need to remember that the time I spent with the Father in worship, prayer, and his word is the only real fixture in the calendar of my life. No other event can compete with it, however urgent or consequential it may seem. I am trying to remember that time with the Lord is not so much an obligation as it is a divine privilege. It is the truly critical event that makes all other competing obligations fade like puffs of smoke. When I view it like this, I am so happy to know that it will not be taken away from me.