A few weeks ago over 200 people, including forty pastors, came together at a campground in Summerville, KY. The reason we gathered was to discern God’s direction as it pertains to a piece of property, as we have been in discussions with the owners of the campground about a possible purchase. With such a big decision we thought it would be best to get everyone together on location to consider the potential pros and cons of acquiring the property.
I received a call the night before the meeting and was informed that the heat and water had been shut-off to save money for the campground except in one small chapel. If I had known the utilities had been shut-off a week earlier I would’ve been inclined to cancel the meeting. I would’ve thought, “I’m not asking 200 people to come and sit in a small space because there’s no heat in the main sanctuary; that would be too inconvenient. The owners knew we were coming; they should’ve had the place ready. We need to wait and do it another time.”
I’m glad God bypasses our natural inclinations sometimes. I’m really glad we didn’t postpone the meeting because of the small space we were forced to meet in because something happened that day that reminded me of the most important thing. On that Saturday morning, we gathered in that small chapel and shared an intimate yet powerful time of worship and prayer in the presence of Jesus.
I needed that… We needed that.
I call this the “Luke 10:42 Principle.” It’s something I learned the significance of many years ago. Yet in my thinking, I still miss it sometimes. I get so busy doing good things, serving, planning, and trying to make things work, that I often miss the one thing that’s needed the most.
We all know the story. Jesus was visiting the home of a woman named Martha, and like many of us, Martha was very busy “serving,” doing good things, making sure everything was in its place and functioning as it should. Her sister Mary, however, just sat at the feet of Jesus and enjoyed His presence.
Martha became distracted by what she perceived as Mary’s lack of service and started complaining. She even objected about Mary to Jesus, saying, “Don’t you care that she’s not helping me? Make her do something.” Then Jesus said, “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.”
Like many of us, Martha was busy as a bee. She was serving everyone, working hard, and running around making sure everything was in its place. And in the midst of her busyness, she discovered that she was the one who was out of place. We all know that serving people and working diligently is a virtue. However, something greater is needed.
In her efforts at doing “good,” Martha missed the most important thing, which was the presence of Jesus. God in the flesh was in her living room, and she missed it. His presence filled her house, and she missed it. He was right there, and she missed it. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss it… ever.
Whatever happens with the campground property is beside the point. God used our reason for gathering and made Jesus the center of it all. On that Saturday morning, the Holy Spirit invaded that small space and captivated our hearts, even if only for a short time. When I left the room, my heart was different. My focus shifted from the business of “buying property” to how important it is for us to intimately experience the presence of Jesus together.
On that day, from the back of the room, I looked out over that small sanctuary with tears of joy. I witnessed a group of pastors and leaders from across the Kentucky District with their hands in the air passionately worshipping Jesus. I sensed the gentle love of the Holy Spirit sweeping over every person in attendance.
As we pressed in around the altars and cried out to God together the passion of our collective voices became a beautiful concert of praise. The intimacy of the room, the passion of the people, the closeness of the relationships, the presence of the Holy Spirit, all created an atmosphere of genuine renewal. May we be reminded, “One thing is needed,” being together in the presence of Jesus changes everything.