25 Oct Missing Moments
On the Mary/Martha pendulum, I’m a Martha. My feet hit the floor in the morning with my to-do list filling my head, strategically thinking about how I will get all of it done as efficiently as possible. It’s how I am wired up.
I have energy each day to give to the people and responsibilities God has entrusted to me. And yes, most of my energy is spent on the logistics of the day: feeding humans, meetings, emails, laundry, and chauffeuring. There’s nothing sinful about the “doing” instead of “relating” being my natural mode of operation, except when I make it the ultimate thing. Except when I take the time I have been given each day to build into my kingdom and not God’s. Except when I miss the moments God has for me because I am head-down, hyper-focused, and unwilling to veer from the plan.
In Luke 10, Jesus passes through the village that Martha and Mary live in, and Martha hospitably invites Jesus to stay with them. She busies herself “with much serving,” verse 40 tells us. Her sister Mary seems to be just relaxing, hanging out with her friends and family and Jesus. Since I relate to Martha so well, I wonder if she was taking out her frustration while kneading dough, thinking things like, “I am working myself to the bone, and Mary is just sitting there! She’s probably kicked back knowing that I will take care of it all so why bother helping? How can she not see all the things that need to be done? If I don’t do it, who will?”
“There’s nothing sinful about the “doing” instead of “relating” being my natural mode of operation, except when I make it the ultimate thing . . . Except when I miss the moments God has for me because I am head-down, hyper-focused, and unwilling to veer from the plan.”
Poor Martha. She tries to make sure everyone is comfortable, well-fed, and that the dishes are done. Yet she is not working happily for the Lord. She is frustrated about the work she feels like she is made to do. But it is work she creats for herself! Not only that, she expects others to participate in it as well. Creating moral expectations, holding others to meet those standards, and using those standards to feel superior, is legalism. And Martha gets the kindest of rebukes from Jesus about her work legalism:
“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 (ESV)
Jesus visits in Martha’s home, by her own invitation, but instead of spending time with the very guest she invited in, she busies herself with tasks. What does this say about Martha’s heart? What is she valuing most?
In his book Crazy Busy, Kevin DeYoung writes “Martha isn’t doing anything bad. She’s just being pulled away from what is better. She’s so busy with dinner that she’s giving Jesus her spiritual leftovers.” Verse 40 names the ailment: “distracted.”
“Am I spent at the end of the day because I built into God’s kingdom or my own?”
Just like Martha, my distraction feeds my pride. I have created goals and expectations without thinking about taking them to the Lord to ask if it is how I need to be using my time and energy. I implement with the firm conviction that my way is best. The fruit of that pride is anger and resentment towards other people who don’t see the things I see, or do the things I do, or who come between me and my plan. DeYoung says, “We are all very busy, but not with what matters most.”
Martha tries to tattle on Mary to Jesus, “Tell her to help me.” Prepping a meal is not Martha’s sin. Her sin is pride in thinking that her way is the best way. Her kingdom is threatened. Martha is so bent on her own agenda, she literally tries to pull Mary away from fellowship with Jesus.
Am I spent at the end of the day because I built into God’s kingdom or my own? Am I more concerned with answering a work email before I put my phone down, look my daughter in the eyes, and listen to her tell me about her day at school? Did my choice to watch three episodes in a row on Netflix help me prepare well for the Bible study I am facilitating in the morning? What shows the inviting nature of God more—a home that looks like a magazine, or a hostess who drops everything to stop and sit with her guests because she believes loving them is more important than impressing them? All these things—work, Netflix, housekeeping—are not bad or sinful. But are they my best choice for the moment?
“What shows the inviting nature of God more—a home that looks like a magazine, or a hostess who drops everything to stop and sit with her guests because she believes loving them is more important than impressing them?”
How I use my resources (money, time, and energy) expose what I truly value. I can trust God, knowing if I step out in faith to give more than I think I may have in me, He can fill in the gaps. He is the Source of every resource I have anyway! If I choose “the good portion,” which is seeking His kingdom, then nothing will be taken from me. My work is to busy myself with stewarding what God has entrusted to me. And if my eyes are on Him, the things that I once thought were so important will fade when placed beside Him and His promises.
When her kids were little, Molly lived an organic vegetable garden and homemade laundry detergent life. In her current season, she lives a Little Caesars and Round-Up life, and only the promises of Jesus have made her okay with that. She loves learning, coffee and hanging out with her husband. Molly attends our Pelham campus.