Today in church we talked about my favorite passage in the Bible. Here it is from my Message version:
Jesus continued travelling and entered a village. A woman named Martha welcomed him and made him feel at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master and hung on every word He said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. She interrupted them, saying ‘Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned me in the kitchen? Tell her to lend me a hand.’
The Master said to her ‘Martha, dear Martha, you’re getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential and Mary has chosen it- it won’t be taken away from her.’
The Lord speaks to me with this one. I am so Martha. This is where I find my purpose:
I like having a plan; an agenda. Because when I cross something off my to-do list, I feel a sense of accomplishment. The more checks on the page the more proof I have of my productivity. If I slow down to rest I might fall behind. And if there’s no tasks to be done immediately, I could always get ahead.
And then I wonder why I constantly feel anxious, like there’s something I should be doing but I’m not.
The Bible tells us that Martha was busy serving. She was cooking for Jesus and his disciples. She wasn’t doing anything wrong; her intentions were pure. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the items on my to-do lists either. Everyone has things that just need to get done.
I think the real issue lies in my willingness (or lack thereof) to drop everything and just step into the presence of God. I can’t count the number of times I’ve started to sit down with my Bible or journal but habitually glanced at my agenda and inevitably thought of something more “productive” I could be doing. I know when I do this I miss out on valuable moments with Christ.
Many times my actions reveal that I place more value on my checklist than I do on my relationship with God.
Martha was so concerned with fixing the perfect dinner for Jesus and the disciples…I imagine she and I share the spiritual gift of hospitality. Our desire to serve others is a gift from God, but it becomes dangerous when we cannot pull ourselves away from whatever we’re preparing for; even, in Martha’s case, when Jesus is literally sitting in her living room.
Mary, though…Mary got the point. She recognized that Jesus didn’t care whether their bowls matched their plates (confession: I just told my mom not to buy me paper bowls because she was at Walmart and Walmart doesn’t have the ones that match my plates and cups). The importance of her daily tasks and assignments paled in comparison to the opportunity to spend quality time with Jesus. She dropped everything.
I can picture myself in Martha’s place, frustrated by the amount of things needing to be done before dinner could be put on the table and by the lack of help she was receiving. I can picture myself watching Mary sit at Jesus’s feet without a care in the world, wishing I could be doing that too, but oh yeah, the soup needs stirred and the napkins need folded.
Some days I feel like I just run around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to accomplish everything I possibly can. And at the end of the day I can’t even remember what all I’ve done because it’s just been one thing after another. Often this leaves me feeling exhausted and unfulfilled.
I need to slow down. I need to pay more attention. I need to trust God enough to let myself rest in Him and know that there’s no better way I could be spending my time.
This is where my true purpose is found: