Martha had a sister, but we worriers all have someone who annoys us with their laissez faire living. It wasn't until I was married to a man who doesn't say what he doesn't mean , doesn't do things for show, and doesn't rush for anything but contusions that I started to realize that most of the stuff I fret and fuss over just doesn't matter to anyone but me. Martha wanted everything just-so because the Messiah happened to show up for tea. I get that. The problem is that Jesus wasn't there for her hospitality. Martha's preparations distracted her. She thought she was doing the real work, but she was actually breaking herself up into little pieces. She was sure that Jesus cared about what she cared about--that He would chide her lazy and irresponsible sister. But Mary understood that when the Savior shows up, the whole point is to get as close to Him as possible and stay there.
"'Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her'" (Luke 10:41-42).
It is almost inconceivable to worriers (and can seem harsh even), but Jesus does not care about the "many things" that we care about. What He cares about (rather WHO He cares about) is your eternal self (1 Peter 5:7). Because Mary picked up on that, she was able to sit "at the Lord's feet, listening to His word" (Luke 10:39). According to Jesus, "only one thing is necessary," and because Mary chose that one thing--that good part--she could rest absolutely secure. Jesus made it clear that what she had chosen would not be taken away. I guess that is the most interesting part of the story for a woman plagued with Martha tendencies. Because every single one of the "so many things" that I go wildly anxious about can and do get snatched away from me so very easily. I can't tie any of it down. I can't make things behave and stay put according to my desires. The parts are always moving and I have to face the fact that, "'If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?'" (Luke 12:28). And here is God saying that there is one thing that will never be taken away from me. As always, the thing is not a thing, but a person. If I will choose gazing only at Him over being torn apart with frantic, darting glances at a million different moving parts, I will end up with a relationship with a person that can never be changed or ruined or wrenched away.
Mary chose rest because she understood that God was doing all the important, lasting work. I believe that is why Sabbath rest is so close to God's heart. When we choose to sit at His feet, we are declaring that all our running around will not produce anything of value if it is not done according to His will (Psalm 127:1). When we take time to gaze at His supreme loveliness and hear His will, we are participating in the healing act of becoming a whole being (mind, will, emotions, strength) unified on one purpose--His.
This was Jesus' comfort for the worrier: "'Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom'" (Luke 12:32). Clothes, food, and all the trapping of this life are distractions, and we will never be able to do a better job at provision than the Creator of all provisions. Our long-term well-being is secure. The kingdom is ours. What lies between the now and the not yet is only the one thing: to remain in Him.