Recently while at National Office for a conference, John Stumbo was leading a morning devotion out of Luke 10. During that devotion as he was talking about Mary and Martha I had a moment of clarity about Martha’s actions vs Mary’s inaction. This is a story where I’ve always come to the defense of Martha.
Luke 10:38-42: 38 “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ 41 ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one, Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”
Are Your Days Filled?
Most days are filled from the moment I wake up until I finally decide to end it by crawling into bed. I look at the clock and see how many hours I have until the alarm goes off. Sometimes it will be enough, but so often I know I’m going to be tired when I wake up. Thank you Starbucks for all of those mornings you help me to get going. How many of us fall prey to filling our plates so full that we have to live off a calendar to know what’s next. And even with our calendar to keep us in check, we’ve already added 10 more things to our plate.
Are Your Days Filled with the Right Things?
Years ago, it became our responsibility to care for two elderly family members. It just happened overnight. One day nothing and the next day there weren’t enough hours in the day to do all that needed to be done. One was wheelchair bound and the other has Down syndrome. There were numerous doctor, dentist and social security appointments. I had never been so overwhelmed in my life. I had a full-time job, family, and several church duties. There were times when even I didn’t like myself when I vented my frustration about the “unfairness” of it all. I had so much to do, don’t you see? Why and where was MY alone time? Why did everyone else have the leisure that I no longer had?
Have you heard these words before? I finally came to the end of my rope and realized enough is enough. I cleared my plate and spent the next several years happily caring for our two aunts.
Why Did Mary Choose Better?
I have often thought of this scripture and the Lord saying that Mary chose better. Why? Why did she choose better to immediately go sit at the Lord’s feet instead of helping Martha “get ready?” How many of us are so consumed with having to get ready or clean up our lives before we think we can come sit at the Lord’s feet?
And so when we were looking at Luke 10, I had two thoughts about Martha and finally realized that indeed Mary chose better. In vs 42 the Lord says, ‘but few things are needed’. What was needed was my care for two elderly aunts. What wasn’t needed was all the other stuff I also tried to do. Once I stopped all my other duties, I had peace.
Do You Need to Clean Up?
Then I looked at this story as a metaphor. How often do we run around doing things, thereby avoiding spending time with our Lord? Martha was busy, in her mind, doing the right noble thing. The Lord was impressing on me that you don’t need to make things right before you come sit at his feet. I had that time in my own life where I knew I had to ‘clean up’ before I could even consider having a relationship with the Lord again.
James 4:8 says, Come near to God and he will come near to you. Do you really need those 10 items on your business plate? Do you always need to say yes when someone ask you to do something? Do you have to clean your house before the ‘house cleaners’ arrive? Do you identify more with Martha? Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.