My name is Mary, but I have a Martha soul.
You know Martha. She, her sister Mary, and her brother Lazarus were close friends of Jesus. He ate with them and fellowshipped at their home in Bethany.
That is where Martha was in her element. She believed in work, in serving, in staying busy. No lollygagging around for her. So ingrained was her work ethic (we take pride in calling our busyness that), that she was known to reprimand her sister, Mary, for not meeting her (Martha’s) work quota.
In Luke 10, we find this description of Martha –
Luke 10: 38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that He entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house.
39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word.
40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
Jesus had come to visit, and Martha was pulling out all of the stops. Had Bethany been in southern Israel, there would have been fried chicken, mashed potatoes, greens, cornbread, biscuits, but I digress. I’m not sure what Martha was preparing, but she was busy about the work. She was so busy that she did not have time to sit down with Jesus. Hmmm.
Mary, on the other hand, sat at Jesus’ feet and listened. She relished His presence.
Martha was appalled. There was work to do! People to feed! How could Mary just ignore her efforts?
I believe that all of the love of Jesus’ heart was in the answer He gave in response to Martha’s cry for her sister’s help.
Luke 10: 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
I never, ever read His words in these verses without feeling His longing for fellowship, for companionship, for a listening heart. And I am convicted.
I can find 1001 things to do instead of praying. I’m not talking about sinful activities; I’m talking service.
“The dishes need to be put away. Oh, let me get the baby for you. I will be happy to keep the nursery and teach and sing in the choir. Let me work in the kitchen, please! I think I better call and check on…..” You get the picture.
I can be so busy with many things that I miss the best thing – Jesus.
I’m not saying that it isn’t important to serve. Thank God for the Christians with servant hearts whom God uses in ministry and life!
But, if the service becomes the goal to attain instead of the response to Jesus’ love, I have missed the most important part.
When my mom was alive, I spent many days at her house cleaning for her. I would rush in between work and church and family responsibilities and work like a whirlwind to be sure the bathroom was clean and the refrigerator organized and the floors mopped. I wanted to do it for her.
One day, though, she looked at me and said, “I wish you would just sit down and talk to me for a while. The house will wait.”
I didn’t fully understand then, but I think I do now.
The service was good, but she wanted the fellowship. She wanted time with her child.
Sounds kind of like Jesus, doesn’t it?
I won’t lie. I still struggle with the busy part. I still try to validate my time by accomplishing things. I still like to check off my checklist. Some days I have trouble relishing His presence.
I hope I am learning, though, to spend time in His presence BEFORE I start the work.
I hope I am getting better at spending my energy on the most important, the good part that cannot be taken from me.
I hope that Jesus finds me at His feet listening to His words and smiles.