Mary and Martha?
I’m speaking from the story from Luke 10 which reads:
“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
And if we’re being honest, when I read this story, I think of all the times of when I am Martha.
( Too many times, actually.)
I love entertaining.
I absolutely love when my little home is filled with laughter and conversation.
I love cooking for people. And baking.
I love to plan. I love finding an excuse to make a meal or throw a party.
I love planning for these moments more than almost anything else.
And I love when things go off without a hitch even more so.
It’s in these moments at home when my apartment is full of laughter and conversation that I feel the Lord. It’s a strange thing to explain, but it’s one of the times that the Spirit seems the most tangible. Something just feels different.
But in the last few months, I’ve been convicted by my love for these things.
It happened one night last month.
It was one of those times that I love, you know when my apartment is full of people.
But my heart was at such unrest.
I was making food, setting out snacks, and cleaning.
These are all things I normally enjoy, but I couldn’t relax.
I was stressed. I was shaky. I was antsy. I was struggling to keep it together.
Everything in my mind was going wrong.
I ran out of dough for the pizza, and I burnt some cookies.
No big deal normally.
But not this night.
As people began to show up, I became more and more anxious.
I wanted to hide.
I refused to leave the comfort of my post at the oven to talk to anyone.
I looked into the living room with envy at everyone laughing and enjoying themselves.
I felt a little jealous that I was cooking and everyone else was having fun.
I looked out at a group of students being Mary.
Enjoying what is important: fellowship and sharing about their experiences, about the Lord.
A friend came over to me and said “come sit and relax a minute, come enjoy the company” and I shook my head no and told him to go enjoy himself but that I was busy. I just couldn’t let go of what I felt like I had to do, even though no one else minded.
And in that moment, I realized: I am Martha.
The Lord hit me in a big way in that moment.
It was as if He was nudging me through my friends words saying, “Go enjoy what is important. Think back to what I’ve taught you. It’s okay to take a break. Things don’t always have to go according to plan, they can still be beautiful.”
I still ignored His words and my friends for a while.
I stayed anxious and stressed for a long time…
It wasn’t until they were done eating that I calmed.
It wasn’t until gifts were exchanged that I calmed.
It wasn’t until my apartment was empty that I calmed.
It wasn’t until I cleaned up that I calmed.
It wasn’t until I took the garbage out that I calmed.
I calmed when I was in bed that night.
It took hours.
And so I’ve really studied this passage in the last month.
I’ve made a conscious effort to remember it.
At first I read it with awe, I mean Martha came to Jesus and tried to tell Him what to do. What audacity! How could she tell Him what to do? How could anyone tell Jesus what to do!? That’s crazy. Wait.
The more I’ve read it, the more it connects with me.
How many times have I done the same thing? Quite a bit more than I’d like to admit.
I frequently recalled the times where I quietly said:
“No, Lord. Let me try my way first.”
“Lord, help me with what I want to do and then I’ll slow down”
“Why does it have to be this way?”
“Lord, make them help me.”
and so on…
So now, I’ve made it my focus to engage myself in what’s going on around me.
I’m embracing flaws in my plans and in my life.
I’m investing in seeing the Lord in all things.
I’m learning that they add excitement and character.
Sometimes, beauty comes in the form of laughing over burnt cookies.
Sometimes, beauty comes when our plans are slightly altered.
Always, beauty comes when we keep focus on the one thing worth being concerned over: Christ.