Today in the year 1582, a woman named Teresa died in Avila, Spain. Devoted to Christ, she lived as a nun, organized 17 new monasteries, and is one of the great devotional writers of our faith. At one point, she encouraged her audience to
“Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and that there is only one glory, which is eternal. If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.”
Her encouragement reminds me of the way Jesus chided Martha for worrying about many things in her life while praising her sister Mary for being focused on the one necessary thing (Luke 10:38-42). It’s easy to get distracted by the many things that need doing in our lives; Teresa and many other Christians have accomplished many things. But knowing what to do and when to do it is the fruit of focusing on the one necessary thing. Following Jesus Christ sets us free from many things we don’t need to do, and free for the many things God has in store for us.
As Mary Oliver writes at the end of her beautiful poem “The Summer Day,”
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?