“Don’t You care that she’s not helping me?”
Martha’s words reflected the turmoil in her soul. With so much to do, how could Mary just sit there? Did she forget about their large dinner party tonight? The food wouldn’t cook itself!
Martha wanted so much for everything to be perfect – the meal, the accommodations, the service. It wasn’t everyday that Jesus came to visit! She had to make sure He was comfortable during His stay. He needed to feel honored, to know how much she loved Him. But…how could she do it all alone?
“Don’t You care that she’s left me to do all the work? Tell her to get up and get busy!”*
Do you ever feel like Martha? I know I do. All the time. Hubby jokes about my impossible “to do” lists. But it’s true. I seem incapable of creating a “to do” list that’s actually doable.
Oh, I totally get Martha. I know what it’s like to feel resentful when my priorities are not a priority to others.
So when I came across this passage in my Bible reading last week, I spent a while reflecting on it. Where did Martha go wrong? What is life’s one true necessity that Mary chose? And seriously, did Jesus not care about dinner? I mean, just practically speaking, how was dinner going to get on the table if both Mary and Martha sat at His feet?
What strikes me most in this account is the tenderness that exudes from Jesus’ gentle rebuke.
“Martha, Martha…My dearly loved Martha! I do see your hard work! I know you want to honor me and prove your devotion. But, Martha, that’s not what I want from you! You’re so distracted, so anxious, so uptight. You’re trying so hard all the time. Trying to take care of everyone. Trying to stay on top of things. Trying to do the right thing.
“I want you to quit trying and just come rest.
“Just be near Me. Listen to My heart. That’s what Mary has chosen. I won’t send her away to get busy.”*
The key difference, it seems, between the two sisters is this – Martha was driven to serve, while Mary drew near in love. Her adoration compelled her to just be close. To hang on His every word. To listen to His heart. To know Him deeply.
And Jesus said nothing in the world matters more.
His call to know Him and be near Him is woven through all the pages of Scripture.
“Cease striving and know that I am God…” (Ps 46:10a).
“Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” (Phil 3:8).
“Oh, that we might now the Lord! Let us press on to know Him…” (Hos 6:3a).
“But as for me, the nearness of God is my good…” (Ps 73:28a).
“Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace…” (Heb 4:16a).
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…” (Jas 4:8).
Boil it all down, and we find this at the heart of Christianity – being near God. It’s expressed in many different ways…Abiding in Him. Drawing near to Him. Learning from Him. Loving Him. Fixing our eyes on Him. But it all comes back to intimate nearness with God. Everything else in life flows out of that.
This nearness is certainly cultivated in quiet alone times with Him. But thankfully, for this mama with littles (who finds “quiet time” a bit elusive), I’m learning it can also be cultivated in the noise and activity of life. In my busy “Martha moments,” when dinner truly must get on the table, I can still have the heart of Mary as I rest in my relationship with Him. Serving my family (and anything else I do) can be an overflow of my walk with Him. As I receive and rest in His love, I can freely give it to those around me.
So whatever our season, however busy our days, let us press on to know Him!
How do you cultivate the nearness of God in your daily life?
*This is my paraphrase. 🙂 You can read the whole story in Luke 10:38-42.