Does anyone else really feel for Martha?
The story is told in Luke 10: Jesus has come to Mary and Martha’s house, and Martha gets into a whirlwind over the preparations. Mary, her sister, doesn’t. Instead of getting busy with dinner preparations, Mary lingers in the living room, hanging on Jesus’ every word.
Martha’s frustration builds. You can see her in the kitchen, trying to make something special for Jesus and his entourage. And every so often, she glances into the other room, and there is Mary, just sitting there, soaking up the presence of Jesus. Not helping at all! Leaving her to fend for herself!
It’s interesting that this passage comes after a couple of other famous stories. At the beginning of chapter 10, Jesus sends his disciples out for active minsitry. Then you have the parable of the Good Samaratain. Based on the rhythm of the rest of the book, you would think that it would be the one actively serving who would be praised.
Instead, when Martha explodes: Jesus, don’t you care that Mary left me to do all of the work by myself?? Tell her to help me! Jesus responds with a twist: Oh, Martha, you are so distracted. Mary chose something better and I’m not going to take it away from her.
It’s a gentle rebuke, but oh, does it cause me to shut up and listen.
What if Martha had sat down, too? Would Jesus have created a feast from a scrap of bread? Would he have turned water into wine once again, this time to feed his best friends? Would he have gladly mutiplied last night’s leftovers into something grand?
The thing is, Mary did serve Jesus. A few chapters later, it’s Mary who anoints Jesus with oil that would infuse his last hours with its fragrance. She waited on Christ, and she knew when to serve.
But she didn’t serve out of a frenetic need for activity. She served from the quiet center.
I was musing to a friend the other day that I think that the pace of my life has a lot less to do with what is on the calendar and a lot more to do with whether I am working from a quiet center of trusting Christ.
Now, I believe in Margin. I’m not great at it, but I try to allow some white space between events so that one isn’t jammed up against another. But even more is a deep and abiding sense that it’s not up to me to fend for myself. I am not an orphan left to her own devices. I’m a beloved child of the King, cared for by one who loves me infinitely more than I can imagine.
As you begin a new week, spend a moment meditating on this truth: Jesus is the best priority, no matter what else this week holds. He is the one capable of making all of the other details fall into place. He delights to spend time with us, and is able to order all of the other activities for his glory and our good.
Jesus, take this week, and show me the good work that you have prepared in advance for me to do today. Help me not get caught up on details that aren’t even part of what you want for me right now. Let me rest in you at the quiet center of my life, and live in a way that blesses and encourages those around me. Give me productivity and focus, so that I can make the most of the hours you give me for work. And in all of these things, please keep yourself as my highest priority. I am not able to keep you in your rightful place, but you are, so I invite you to do it. Amen.