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The One Necessary Thing

Even if you found the movie City Slickers forgettable, there is one scene worth remembering: the scene in which the serene and wise cowboy played by Jack Palance asks the frantic, dissatisfied businessman played by Billy Crystal if he would like to know the secret of life. In a memorable moment, Palance holds up one finger and says, “The secret in life is pursuing one thing.” Unfortunately, Palance doesn’t tell Crystal what that one thing is.

As anomolous as it may seem, this scene can’t help but remind me of the New Testament story of Mary and Martha. Martha is freaked out and frazzled trying her best to serve Jesus and maintain her household. In fact, she is so frustrated that she complains to Jesus that life is unfair and accuses Him of not caring. Jesus lovingly replies, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is necessary.” Fortunately, Jesus, unlike Jack Palance, actually tells us what the one thing is. He points to Mary and says “Mary has chosen what is better.” (Luke 10:41-42.) And what is it that Mary has chosen? She has chosen to simply sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to what He says.

The secret to life is in one thing: sitting as close as possible to Jesus and listening to what He says. If you feel like you are running around frazzled–or you feel scattered, frustrated or directionless–think about pursuing the one necessary thing. Spend some time sitting with Jesus and listening. A practical way to do this might be to read the four gospels, a chapter or two a day, for the next two months.