Monday, July 29, 2013

My name may be Mary, but I'm a Martha

We never outgrow the need for lessons. And we should constantly be learning. But sometimes we have to learn and relearn a particular concept over and over again.

A week ago I had out of town company.  The first visit from these dear friends in my new home.  I wanted everything to be perfect.  I had cleaned the guest room, changed the sheets, set out a soft stack of towels for my guests, written out a menu and purchased all the food. 

Our visit was going splendidly!!

Sunday morning though, in a rush to get the meal in the crock pot I was cutting potatoes--"distracted with much serving" and cut off the end of my finger.  I don't want to be graphic but this was bad. I gave new meaning to the term "meat and potatoes." I grabbed a handful of paper towels and, (calmly? Can't remember) asked my friend to come see if she thought I needed to go see the Doc. Um, yes. We did.

Even while walking out the door to the Emergency room I was flinging instructions to my teenage girls, "Finish the potatoes, add carrots, add some water to the crock, do this, do that, hold down the fort." Oh, so distracted!

Luke 10:38-42 "Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “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.”

Oh, Lord! This lesson? That must mean that my inner Martha is rearing her ugly head again.

You see, Martha is a do-er.  Mary is a thinker.  I have always been a do-er. Now, this is not to say that doing things is bad, not at all.  The world needs Marthas. Otherwise, pot luck dinners would never happen, meals on wheels wouldn't get delivered, and quilt donations wouldn't get made. The world and the church need hospitable Marthas. 

But Martha has a problem.  She is very good at juggling. She isn't good at balancing. When you juggle, you have to keep moving, you toss this bowling pin up and while it's on its way up you toss another, then throw a spinning plate into the mix, then how about you take on a Sunday School project, or maybe a charity quilt, then surely you can take a meal to the homebound in your spare time.  While they are all in the air above our heads everything is peachy! And maybe you can get off a few classy hand tricks and get them sailing again, but sooner or later it all comes crashing down.

Mary on the other hand is very good at balance.  She knows her limits, she only has two hands.  She knows that she can only do so much and she doesn't over commit.  Balancing acts require quiet concentration.  A balance artist doesn't move around very much.  They stand still while they achieve the perfect harmony between movement and stillness.

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

After I cut my finger, I was forced to be still.  It took the nurses and the Doc quite a while to get the bleeding stopped and I was told in no uncertain terms to go home and sit. No running around the kitchen, no weeding the garden, no feeding or grooming animals especially! There was danger in doing any of these things.  Bleeding could continue, infection could be introduced. The answer was to BE STILL!

Ok, God.  I get it.  Sit and visit with my friends. Stop all the busy-ness of trying to make everything perfect and just be. Being is hard for Martha. She gets so worked up watching Mary just SIT there.  Lord, don't you know that there are disciples to feed, the kitchen is a mess and, these servant girls just don't do things the way I would, and, and, and...Make her help me!!

"Martha, Martha. (Can't you just HEAR His tender voice?) You are anxious and troubled about many things. Only one thing is necessary."

I'm sure you know of Stephen R. Covey and his Franklin Planner.  I do.  I have three of them! My husband has two of them.  We are a Franklin Family! To a Martha, there is something cathartic in having all your ducks in a row. We love lists and check-boxes.  Oh, it makes my heart sing!

Well, Mr. Covey has written a book called, "First Things First." In his book he talks about prioritizing.  He uses a visual lesson with a large jar, rocks, pebbles, sand and water.  I'm sure you have all seen a similar illustration, you must fit the rocks in first, then the pebbles, then the sand in order to get all of the items in the jar.

That is not to say that if you do the important things then you can do it all.  It just means that the important things DO get done and then more of the lower-list items can squeeze into the spaces.

Jesus is the most important thing in our life.  Our relationship with Him should come first.  The pebbles would be the next layer of responsibility--our family.  They will fit in pretty easily into those spaces because Jesus will wrap our family relationships with love. The next items on our list would be church/work/friendships.  As long as our relationship with Jesus Christ is in our life-jar first, many other things can fit in.

So, my lesson? It's ok to be a do-er. It's ok to be a thinker.  Jesus loves both Mary and Martha.  He just wants our full attention when he is sitting in our parlor. No distractions, pull out some sandwiches and glasses of water.  He'll transform the feast.

He is the Rock, all the rest will fit into the spaces.


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