I so often find myself in such a tizzy that I forget what my life actually looks like. Has anyone ever been there? You just go, go, go and you’re constantly busy that one day you sit down for the first time in perhaps weeks and you go, “wait, what did I just do with my life?” The days seem so long, filled (for me) with a full time job and full time school and trying to balance a social life and spiritual life, while also trying to do the things I need to do like… eat. It’s Friday now and I am just wondering what happened to my week. Maybe this is what happens with age, but boy does everything feel like chaos. (Very organized and scheduled chaos, but chaos nonetheless… I don’t even want to talk about what my planner looks like…) And unfortunately I’m the kind of person that has a high personal standard of excellence. I know that I can be great at all things, so I push myself to the extremes and limits to achieve said excellence. It’s my tragic flaw. I get so into “doing” when I need to be “being”. I kill myself with chaos and forget that God is a God of peace and rest…
All of this brings me back to Martha and Mary. Martha, the do-er. Mary, the be-er. God seems to bring this story to mind at just the right times. It just so happened to be a part of my daily Bible reading for today…
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “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.”
So at first, Martha is doing great here. She welcomes Jesus into her home. She’s got the “hostest with the mostest” thing going for her. We want to applaud her for her willingness to serve Jesus and his friends. Then we’re introduced to her sister, Mary. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, listening to him teach about the scriptures, and unlike some in his culture, he encouraged women to study and learn the Scriptures.
We don’t know the age difference between these two sisters, but it is easy to picture Martha as the elder sister. She’s in the kitchen, working her tail off, and she realizes, “Wait just a second! I’m doing this all by myself. NOT OKAY.” So she does what most of us would have done: tattle tail. She wants Jesus to notice the hard work she’s putting into serving him. She wants him to acknowledge her servant heart and love for him. So she says (my translation), “Jesus, can’t you see that I’m working very hard to do everything right? I’m serving you to the best of my abilities. And Mary is just sitting there! Tell her to help me! Tell her to do the right thing and serve her teacher!”
Let’s picture this: Jesus, his disciples, and Mary are lounging at the table, engrossed in every word he has to say. Soaking up every minute they have with him. Then Martha comes in the room in a total tizzy, and everyone just stares. I imagine some awkward glances around the table. And then Jesus breaks the silence, speaking to her so lovingly… “Martha, Martha sweet Martha, you are working yourself up for nothing. You’re anxious about many things, but only one thing is necessary, and Mary’s got it figured out.”
For the past several weeks, I’ve been Martha. Doing just to do. Trying my hardest to be noticed for my hard work and dedication. There’s nothing wrong with working hard and doing the things you’re given with excellence, but the problem lies in the notion that I must do these things to be seen by Jesus, when all he needs is for us to just sit at his feet. To just rest in his presence. To stop doing so much and worrying about many things, and just chose the “good portion”. I don’t want my weeks to go by with no peace or rest to show for it. If I can’t embody peace, I’m doing too much too wrong. As Jesus tells Martha, the good portion of who Jesus is to us cannot be taken away, so we don’t need to work like it’s going to.