Learning my own lessons
One morning last week I got to live out the importance of something I preached just a few days before at a women's retreat. As the teacher I was quite proud of the student for practicing what she preached! Since both of those are me it was a very positive and life-giving, if not a little confusing, conversation on both sides. ;)
However, the student had gotten herself into quite a pickle where she had to draw on the lesson of her teacher so, it really became a wash. ;)
What I had shared with that group was the importance of The Bible to us when we are in a hard season. But also the fact that the scriptures in The Bible are really vital to us always, in every season. They are God’s voice. How he sounds and how he speaks to us.
I got home from the retreat on a Sunday and I was feeling so good! Tired, but good. But pretty tired. My husband might tell you I was a little cranky by the time Sunday evening rolled around but I can’t help but feel The Dallas Cowboys are to get some of the blame for that crankiness. As hard as I try to guard my heart there, they still manage to find their way in and do a little damage from time to time. Let’s not get into how often “time to time” actually is right now. Guarding my heart, remember? (yes, we are on good terms again after last Sunday but it's still a fragile relationship)
So yes, I was feeling a little cranky that Sunday night. Monday came along and more crankiness came with it. I pushed through the day and did all the things I know to do when I’m feeling a little moody and having a low day. I worshipped, I worked out and I managed to be productive even though I didn’t really want to do ANYTHING. But there were things that just needed to be done.
My moodiness kind of came and went throughout the day. I figured I’d wake up Tuesday morning and feel more like myself. And I did, for a minute. But then as I got going in the day the moodiness and crankiness were trying to creep back in. As I got ready I was thinking about the day and all I needed to do and the bad mood seemed to be there waiting for me! Ugh!
As I stood there looking in the mirror suddenly these words quietly came into my mind:
“You are worried about many things.”
It wasn’t an audible voice, it was just a thought that came into my mind but it didn’t originate with me, it was just there.
I knew those words though. I knew they were from The Bible and I knew they were from a story about two women: Mary and Martha. I knew God was speaking to me because I knew those words came straight from His Word.
In an instant as I heard those words peace came over me. Just like that. My mind quieted as I received the message he was sending. Here’s the full story that flooded my heart when I heard those six words:
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
These two women and their story are pretty famous in Christian circles. The message that accompanies the story varies a little depending on the preacher. But for me the message has always been clear.
See I don’t think there was anything wrong with what Martha was doing. In our lives, in our days there is work to be done. If Jesus came to my house I would for sure be making some preparations. Getting out the good towels, buying the name brand of everything, and wiping those baseboards. Oh the baseboards.
And it’s true. Jesus would not love me or like me any less if I didn’t do any of those things. It’s not about what I do for God. He cares about my heart. He cares about me.
And he cared about Martha and her heart as well.
If Jesus is sitting in my living room and I am in the kitchen getting stuff ready, here is what could and should be going through my mind:
“Jesus is in my house! What an honor. He’s right there! Oh my gosh. I am so glad I washed my hair this morning and put on deodorant. I can’t believe he is here. And I can’t believe I, of all people, get to serve him! Lord, thank you for this blessing. Thank you that I have a stocked pantry. Thank you for the provision to serve him a meal. Thank you. I’ll never forget this day as long as I live!”
But Martha wasn’t thinking any of that. Her focus and attention were not on Jesus at all.
She just focused on the list. The things to be done.
She was still with Jesus as she made preparations. She just didn’t realize it. She could have been just as focused on Jesus as Mary was, no matter what she was physically doing. In that way she could have brought him into the preparations she was making. But that’s not what she chose.
And it’s not what I was choosing either. At least not any more.
See all weekend long at that retreat I had been Mary.
I had been focused on Jesus. I invited him in. Teaching the Word of God is a humbling and sometimes terrifying honor. I don’t ever want to get up on a platform and steer people wrong. I don’t want to just tell them my opinions about God. I want to share with them what God says. What he thinks and what he has done in my life. I don’t try to do any of that without him. I am always thinking of him, talking to him, asking him to help me, guide me. Give me the words. “Use me Lord!”, is my repeated prayer! My focus is solely on him. And it had been solely on him.
But then I came home.
And my focus shifted from God to my waiting to do list. To my tasks at hand.
And I became Martha.
I quit focusing on God so I didn't realize I was still in his presence. I quit asking God to help me. I quit including him in what I was doing.
I just started thinking about it all and trying to do it on my own.
He had helped me all weekend and then I just left him out.
What I had been doing all weekend was “God” stuff so it seemed big and important and so I included him in it.
But when I got home, cleaning out the fridge and my inbox didn’t seem to reach the same level of importance so I didn’t focus on him or include him.
Much like Martha didn’t think to focus on Jesus as she tended to her tasks.
And because Martha and I chose not to focus on God as we did all the things, we became cranky.
Notice what Jesus says to her:
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
He addresses her mind, not her hands. He knows she is worried and upset. Those are things that happen in our minds, not with our hands. I think the “better” thing that Mary chose was simply focusing her mind and heart towards Jesus. Yes, she physically was doing that as well but Jesus didn’t say anything to Martha about what she was physically doing.
I didn’t think my to do list at home was worthy of inviting him into. I simply went about it all on my own. And it began to overwhelm me. But what’s truly more overwhelming? Presenting God’s truth to a group of women or scheduling the plumber? Based on my experience that week, calling the plumber was way more stressful! That’s crazy! It was only more stressful and overwhelming because I was going it alone.
God wants to be a part of our lives. ALL of our lives. All the tiny little things. Yes, he wants to be there to help clear our hearts and our minds but he also wants to be there as we clear out the fridge. He cares about all of us, and all we do. If we invite him into all those little things we will find peace and joy in our days. We will see him moving on our behalf, taking care of things no one else could. He will go before us and guide our steps. But it’s our choice to include him. We get to include him the little stuff not just the "big" stuff.
Do you know what I find the most interesting? Martha did the same thing! Look:
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” John 11:17-27
The death of her brother was a big deal. Obvi. And so she ran to Jesus and asked him for help. She brought him into the situation. Her heart and mind were focused on him. She brought him in for the "big" thing but forgot to do the same with her "small" stuff.
He wants to be a part of all of it. He wants us to realize we are in his presence for it all. We just have to remember.
Will you invite him into your task list today? He wants to be there. He cares.
Don’t believe that lie that he only cares about the “big” stuff. He cares about it all because of how much he cares about you. Plus if we leave him out of all the "little" stuff, watch how quickly it all starts to feel really, really big.
Invite him in today. It’s ok to be Martha and Mary at the same time. Your heart posture, your thoughts can be at the feet of Jesus while your hands set about the tasks of the day.