One of the people in the bible I most relate to is Martha. If you are not familiar with this hospitable woman, she is the sister to Mary and Lazarus. You may remember her brother as the one Jesus raised from the dead, but that is another story. Martha is a task-oriented kind of lady. Things need to get done and she is the one to make it happen. We see her story in the book of Luke (10:38-41) where Martha is hosting Jesus in her home. So much to do! Cleaning, cooking and preparing for her guests, there is no time to sit and relax.
In my house, when we have company coming over my family braces themselves for the whirlwind. There are two rules: stay out of Mom’s way and don’t get caught sitting down. I’ve planned, prepped, chopped, prepared and cleaned. There are lists to check and things to do! Can a woman get a little help here? This is where Martha found herself.
“She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” That Mary, doesn’t she know there is work to do? Why is she not helping? Martha has every right to go to Jesus with righteous indignation and ask him to rebuke her sister. Right? “Lord don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” I’ll admit, this seems pretty bold, but I have Martha’s back here and can imagine myself blurting out the same words in frustration. Then Jesus replies, “Martha, Martha, 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.”
How many times have I been so exhausted from the preparations that I don’t fully enjoy the event? Remembering back to my kid’s graduation parties: the theme was clever, decorations Pinterest worthy, and menu extensive but I really never allowed myself to enjoy our guests. Rather than sitting down, talking and catching up, my focus was on my next task instead of the relationships with my friends and family who came to celebrate with me. Jesus’ words cut me to the core, but I don’t imagine they were said harshly. I picture him taking a breath, looking kindly at Martha while putting his hand on her shoulder and speaking in love. Not just to Martha, but to me as well.
Are you a Martha like me? I think we can learn a lot from Mary. I don’t think her intention was to stick her sister with the work or to be selfish, she just had different priorities than Martha. Mary put her time with Jesus as a priority in her life. Rather than fret and fuss she seems to have a stillness that comes from a God centered peace.
Lord, thank you for gentle reminders to stop and sit at your feet. I pray for peace that comes from knowing you and learning more about your character. I may always struggle with the task driven side of my personality but ask that you reveal the Mary in me as well and help me to be still and listen. Amen