Redeeming Martha

A few weeks back, Pastor Mark did a sermon about Mary and Martha. If you aren't familiar with the story, Jesus came over to these sisters' home and while Martha was working her butt off to prepare for Jesus' visit there, Mary was sitting at Jesus' feet and listening to him preach. Martha got upset and whined to Jesus that her sister wasn't helping her and Jesus rebuked her, saying, "'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.'" (Luke 10:41-42). I never really understood the significance of this story for me until Mark dissected it and it hit me over the head like Maxwell's Silver Hammer.

Not only am I totally a Martha, my middle name is Martha. Literally. Well, technically, it's "Marta", but that's just the Swedish spelling of it.

So what does this mean for me? I am at my happiest when my son is on schedule, I know what's for dinner because I planned it two weeks ago and I have my whole day - heck, week - packed full with activities and chores. I am not a natural rester. But am I choosing the "good portion"? What is the "good portion", anyway?

The good portion is Jesus. Mary understood that. She could have been helping her sister, but she saw that spending time at Jesus' feet was more important and would actually make a difference in her life. Being a Martha myself, I'm sure she understood that listening to Jesus was a great thing and wanted to do it more than anything, but she was ultimately more concerned with making sure that Jesus had something to eat. I bet Martha was really jealous that her sister could sit and listen because Mary knows that if she doesn't help, it will get done anyway because Martha is such a perfectionist. 

This. Is. My. Life.

Though I need to understand that even though getting things accomplished is great, the most important part of my day is the time I spend alone with God. If that doesn't happen, the rest of my day is meaningless. Because unless I'm doing my chores and making my schedules to the glory of God, I haven't done anything to further my relationship with Him or proclaim His name, which is the reason for living.

This ties in with Ecclesiastes 1:1-11, which says,

"Meaningless! Meaningless!"
says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! 
Everything is meaningless.

What does man gain from all his labor
at which he toils under the sun?

Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.

The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.

The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.

All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.

To the place the streams come from,
there they return again. 

All things are wearisome,
more than one can say. 

The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing. 

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there anything of which one can say,
"Look! This is something new"?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time. 

There is no remembrance of men of old,
and even those who are yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow.

No matter how "great" we are, no matter how scheduled my life is, no matter what gets accomplished or doesn't, the only thing that matters is that all the while, we are praising Jesus. So if I'm going to be in Martha mode for part of my day, I had better get my Mary time in to balance it out. So that's what I'm doing. While doing my best to communicate with and bring praise to Jesus while doing my chores and serving my family, I also have "Mary time" written on my schedule. No, it doesn't defeat the purpose - it simply reminds me that in all my scheduled craziness, alone time with Jesus is the most important thing to "check off the list".

I'm learning to sit in solitude. I'm learning to take a time-out from life. I'm learning to disengage from my natural tendency to go, go, go and do, do, do to doing... nothing. God speaks in the silent moments so if I allow for there to be none, I'm successively shutting Him out. It's time for me to get back to being close with my Father, so that's exactly what this Martha is going to do.

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