Few things are needed — Anna Heydenrych

I’ve known for a while that doing isn’t the thing. It’s not the thing that will transform my life. Yet, I can’t help doing. I am like Martha in the kitchen. Compassionately, Jesus said to her, “You are worried and upset about many things.” Who today is worried and upset about many things? Who today is working hard to solve their own problems?

“But few things are needed—or indeed only one,” said Jesus.

One thing, one thing is needed. He meant Himself. He meant for us to remain connected, eyes on Him, lives surrendered and dependent on Him. It’s not enough just to know this, we need to journey to a place where we truly believe it so that our everyday actions will align with this beautiful truth. Do my everyday actions reflect this knowing? This is a good way for me to gauge where I am on this journey.

Let’s take things back a few years in my life. I have been busy, very busy. My husband and I started a business together three and a half years ago. We did so prayerfully and with great expectation for where God was leading us. As we had just come out of a tough season, we thought that surely breakthrough was imminent. But let me be honest, we imagined our breakthrough to look like success, because we were working really hard, of course. Culturally, (I refer to the culture of the world that I was born into, specifically the particular age and context that I find myself living within) hard work leads to success and success is making money, having stuff and appearing to have it all.

This is when I began to sense that God was talking to me about process. This is where I began to learn that the limitations in my life are not failures, but rather the boundaries that I need to exist within in order to ultimately choose surrender. I want to be like Mary, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” And so I began to decide that although I live inside a cultural system that tells me that success is having is all, I will begin to believe that I need only one thing. I decided to believe this.

It’s not particularly easy to believe this. I entertain thoughts that I might be missing out on something. Even worse, I entertain thoughts that I am defined by my failures. These thoughts make me work harder. This kind of thinking and working makes me worried and upset. Being worried and upset is no way to live, I know that there is a better way. I know that God intends for me, and you, to enjoy fullness of life even inside our limitations, even when we have little and even when we have much.

Hours before facing the cross and committing His disciples to face the next chapter in their journey to realising the power of their true identities, Christ said to a group of not-yet but to-be leaders of the early church: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” He was promising them that when they faced difficulty in the future, there would be a way to live in peace. The apostle Paul learned the secret to this way of living. “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,” He told the Phillipians. Secrets are by nature difficult to discover, learning is by nature a process. The world we live in is by nature full of lies.

I realised that I don’t want the success that the world offers as it won’t ever offer me real peace. I know that the success that I truly desire won’t look at all like having it all. Nobody can really have it all, something has to give. I have decided that I will take control of what I will give up. I don’t want to live subjected to giving up my peace because I am trying so hard to keep up with a culture that asks me to measure my success against other people. I know that it’s good to measure myself, but I need to do this inside a knowing of who I truly am and against a knowing of how far I have come.

I have three children. I have nurtured each of them as babies. I have witnessed them fail over and over again. Did you ever think about that? Babies fail at so many things as they learn how to be human. But they KNOW that they are human! They look at their parents and they know that one day they will be able to do everything that their parents can do. It’s the knowing that’s important, it’s the identity of who they are that’s important.

When Jesus addressed His group of not-yets, I believe that he was speaking directly to them as to-bes. He knew that they would face trials, most likely fail, but that as they set out on the process of learning to live from their true identities, they would discover the secret of being content in every situation, just as the Apostle Paul did. Without the distractions of worry and fear and striving to keep up with the world, they would remain at His feet just like Mary did. And they would have all that they need because “few things are needed — or indeed only one.”


“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” == Luke 10:41-42

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” — John 14:27

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” –Phillipians 4:12

One Comment

  1. Hugh G Wetmore

    Yes, Anna, we need this word: “Slow down”. We white westerners consider ‘busyness’to be a virtue, the opposite of which is ‘idleness’. But do you know there is no word in isiZulu for “busy”? The nearest Doke-dictionary word is “bambekile” = “trapped”! A busy person has no time for others – they are interruptions. The traditional but disappearing African value of “ubuntu” doesn’t permit “busyness”. We must have time for others. We must ‘slow down’ and be available to others, in the service of Jesus – not ourselves. And you are so right: ‘Contentment’ is a godly virtue, which leads to inner peace. Matthew 6:33,34. 1 Timothy 6:3-10.