Thursday, September 24, 2009

Martha, Martha

I wrote the other day about the spiritual funk that I've been in for a little while now. Funny how just after I acknowledge I'm in a funk and ask God to change whatever needs changing in my heart, he brought me to Luke 10:38-42. It's the story of two sisters, Mary and Martha. Jesus enters a village and is invited by Martha into her home. She is busy cleaning things up, getting food ready, and doing all the right entertaining things for her guest. Meanwhile her sister Mary just plops down and sits and Jesus' feet as he teaches (it seems to me there were other people Jesus was teaching too, making the entertaining job all the more difficult on just one person). Martha is frustrated with her sister, and out of this frustration says to Jesus, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." Now, I can't blame Martha for feeling frustrated. She and Mary were possibly the only women in the house and much work needed to be done while guests were there. I would think Jesus would excuse Mary from the teaching session to assist her sister. Instead he reveals what's really going on in Martha's heart.

Jesus looks at Martha and says, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her." It isn't that Martha just wanted to be a good host, but Martha's heart was weighed down in anxiety. Martha's busy-ness was keeping her from the one necessary thing: time with her Lord. She acknowledged him as Lord and yet was not doing the one thing she most needed to do. Jesus could say the exact same thing to me! I'm busy doing ministry, hosting things, planning things, even reading my Bible for class and to prepare Bible studies. Yet it is so, so easy to get caught up in all the things I'm doing and hardly acknowledge that Jesus is "in the room" - that is, with me by his Holy Spirit, indwelling me and teaching me. But am I listening? Am I taking the time to just be with my Lord? To ignore the email, sports scores, facebook updates, and so on just to read his Word, receive his grace, bask in his mercies which are new each morning, and give him my heart? So often it is the trivial things (which are not evil in and of themselves) that are keeping me in the spiritual kiddie pool instead of swimming in the deep waters of the Christian life.

So, this is my life lesson this week. It came unexpectedly as I was preparing for Wednesday's Bible study, which focused on the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). It caught my attention and so I read it - and felt the warmth of God's presence speaking gently to me that I needed to stop being such a Martha and recognize the one "necessary" thing is time with Jesus, giving him my whole self. Of course life is busy still and I shouldn't abandon my responsibilities for the sake of "more time with Jesus". What I need to do is prioritize: time with the Lord, learning from him, loving him for who he is and what he's done, and then going about the ministry he has appointed me to do. I hope this is encouraging for you - I have a feeling I'm not the only Martha out there.

Soli Deo Gloria

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