Thursday, December 11, 2008

martha, martha

This post has been bouncing around my brain for a while now, and yet it never seemed the right time to publish it. I guess it was never God's time until yesterday. Because yesterday was when He made it real for me.

I've been thinking of the story in Luke 10:38-42 where two sisters, Mary and Martha, are contrasted. You may be familiar with the story but, if not, here's the lowdown:

Jesus came to town. Martha invited Him to the home of her family. Mary sat and listened to Jesus talk while Martha worked feverishly to get everything "just right." Martha got ticked and questioned Jesus, "Don't you care that Mary is sitting on her duff while I do all the work? Tell her to help me!" (my paraphrase)

Jesus responds, "Martha, Martha..."

sidenote: I once heard a message that was focused on this initial part of Jesus' reply. The speaker noted that Jesus said Martha's name...twice. If He had just said "Martha", we might convey that He was angry (MAR-THA!!!!) or frustrated (Marthaaaaaa...). But He said her name twice, and when we are angry or frustrated we don't usually do that. Try it. Just yell "Martha, Martha" in a really angry tone. Doesn't quite sound right, does it? Nope, even as Martha questions and commands Him, Jesus responds in tenderness.

Anyway, the Bible says that Martha was "distracted with much serving." Distracted...suggests she had turned away from her original focus of attention. Much serving...suggests she was going over-the-top, busy with unnecessary details.

Jesus continues His response to her, "...But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."

This year I have been doing less holiday shopping/stuff and have been trying to choose the "good part" spend more time in God's Word. So, while this passage has been stuck in my brain for the past weeks, I didn't think it was really applying to me during this holiday season. (You can laugh now.)

Yesterday morning after breakfast I decided to bring out the playdoh in hopes that M would entertain himself while I did some other tasks, but something stopped me from taking my busywork to the table.

Martha, Martha.

UGH! But I have stuff to do! And the baby never takes long enough naps! And...

Martha, Martha.

I found myself reaching into the drawer for the playdoh "big guns"...the utensils I get out only when I play with M. As M and I sat at our table enjoying the squishy dough, soft music and falling snow (lasted a few minutes and never stuck), I was reminded that Jesus was there with us. He was there. So I talked to M about Jesus...His Presence with us, His love for us.

Suddenly M put down his playdoh and reached over for my hand. With a big smile on his face he gazed at me...then pointed to Scott's chair...and then turned his sweet face back to mine. His countenance was one of joy.

As I was enjoying time with my baby, I was sitting at my Savior's feet. It was the good part. THE GOOD PART. And it dripped with His tenderness.

You know, if the story of Jesus' tenderness toward distracted, demanding Martha stopped there, it would be enough. But if you read John 11 you will find another gem. You see, Martha's sister Mary was the one who seemed to really "get it." In humble adoration, Mary sat at Jesus' feet. Nothing else mattered. She was the one who would later anoint the feet of Jesus with very expensive oil and then wipe them dry with her hair. (Note to self: grow hair out!) Mary was, Biblically speaking, "da bomb."

Yet John 11:5 states, "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister..."

Just WHOM is mentioned by name? Yes, good ol' Martha, Martha. Not that it is a competition. God has enough love to go 'round. But I find this very comforting...that the God of the universe chose to speak of His love for and mention by name the sister Martha. A woman who was too busy to sit with Jesus but then questioned His care for her. One who lost focus of the Good Part, Christ Himself.

I love, love, love my times alone reading God's Word, but often as soon as my Bible snaps shut, I become distracted. Yes, I know He is with me all the time, but I don't live like He is with me all the time. I am like Martha who invited Him into her home but then was too busy to enjoy hear be with Him. I allow my focus to be diverted too easily...and too often on things that really don't matter (except in my little mind!). This doesn't mean I stop doing housework and sit in the middle of my living room floor all day (although on days that would be nice!), but instead to be more mindful of His Presence with me...even in the mundane and in the busywork.

What about you? Are you more like Mary or Martha? Do you find it easy to sit at His feet even in the midst of a busy day? Or do you lose focus and become distracted with much serving? Feel free to share!!!

another sidenote: At lunch I was reading to M about King Saul and how he became prideful and no longer loved God. M started making funny squeals, and I looked up to see him pointing at himself. I asked, "What?...Do you love God?" He nodded with exaggeration and then picked up another cracker to stuff in his mouth. Rationally I question a toddler understanding any of this, but with M you just never know.


dan and rachel said...

great reminder, tish! fabulous post!

Lisa said...

Tish, yes!
Last night as I was dropping L off to her Religious Ed. class & already thinking of the 10 errands I was going to run during that hour, Fr. Bob announced that their teacher was ill and could anyone fill in for the night? 22 other parents took a collective step back, leaving me left standing front & center. :)
20 "buts" crossed my mind & even as I was ushered in, 10 excuses were already forming on my lips.... (sad, but true)...
Then a funny thing we began discussing what the teacher had prepared beforehand, (the meaning of the Candy Cane and the weekly Advent lesson), I began to realize that how could I hope to have L truly embrace God's teachings, if I wasn't willing to answer "yes" when asked.
As the hour continued I was dazzled by all of the children and their unshakable faith in the Lord and their joy at celebrating the miracle birth of Jesus at Christmastime.
The hour concluded with them practicing for next week's Christmas program and while I didn't know all the correct hymn tempos and the children didn't know all the words to each song, a choir of angels could not have sounded more lovely to my ears. THEY embraced the moment and sang & gave from the was both humbling and beautiful to say the least.
And when it was over many parents stopped to tell me thank you; but you know what?
Its me who was the most thankful of all......

Lisa C.
Great post btw!

Tish said...

lisa, thanks for sharing that blessing!

Mark, Rebecca and Sophia said...

I am with you. I have the same thoughts all the time with Sophia. I am by nature a Martha. I love tasks, to do lists and busyness. I must sometimes force myself to stop and play. Great reminder.

LOVE the photo!

Tami and Bobby Sisemore Family said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! THANK YOU so much for sharing it! It is basically a devoiton! I would love to share it with others! PLEASE write some more! heehee Your time with M sounds prescious!

Noah's mama

Anonymous said...

Oh, that picture of Matthew's precious face is simply breathtaking!

Andrea said...

Def. a Martha..but I am working on it.;)
The pic of M is perfect!
Great post.


Rebecca of "China, Baby!" said...

Wow. This is exactly where my thoughts have been the last few days! What a very timely reminder in all the busy-ness of the season.

I adore that picture of M. It is so fabulous! Are you loving that 1.4, or what?


Beverly said...

I don't know, Dr. Dobson claims to have come to saving faith at the age of 3. Def possible. Mine on the other hand likes to tell me she is going not to heaven. I hope she just wants a reaction from me, LOL! Such sweet memories you are making with your baby boy!

Tami said...

Oh, I would bet 'yes' M understands fully to the core of his being!

I am definitely like I read your post, I could actually insert my name and hear "Tami,Tami" in my head. I make a conserted effort to be more like Mary, and when I succeed, it is always SO worth it.

Thank you so much for your special ministry are truly a gift.

OX Tam

Melissa May said...

Good, good word. : ) I go back and forth between Mary and Martha and right now am swimming in responsibilities like never before and trusting God to keep me close to Him - and needing to remember to rest with Him when I'm doing the dishes and waking up before the sun with my wide-awake toddler. Every moment of it can be at His feet if I remember He's there.