Post by: Katy
With the Thanksgiving feast only a few weeks away I can’t help but think about the feast preps made famous by Jesus. One feast that two women treated completely different. One woman loved. The other labored.
Jesus’ disciple, Luke, recorded the exchange: Martha invited Jesus into her home then went to work. But her labor peeled her away from His presence. Mary, consumed by her Savior, chose to sit at His feet.
Labor cumbered Martha. Love consumed Mary.
I can’t blame Martha. I imagine her chopping away in the kitchen thinking, “If I don’t do this, who will? Somebody has to do it!” Her chops grew harder. Her blood boiled a little hotter then finally, “That’s it!” she silently screamed.
“And she went up to him [Jesus] and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.'” Luke 10:40 (ESV)
Woah. Crazy lady alert. Can you see her standing in the doorway, hand on hip, jaw clenched, tapping her foot? In this story it’s easy to spot the girl gone wild and her major misstep. Hello! Jesus is in your living room! And you’re complaining about what? Sit down and shut up already!
But if I give it a minute to soak in, this picture hits uncomfortably close to my home. Look at these two gals. Martha stands for chaos, frustration, fatigue. Mary points to a calm, peaceful, purposeful presence. I want to be Mary, but when there’s much to be done it’s hard to choose love over labor. The key word there is choose. Love, often mistaken for a feeling, is actually a choice.
Love serves with a smile as her thoughts swirl around who her hands will serve and how they will benefit. Labor grinds with a grumble as she stands preoccupied with what must be done.
In the very midst of writing this post, opportunity knocked.
My toddler alerted me to the mess with squeals of despair. I hurried around the corner to find him on his back in a growing puddle of water. By the time I arrived, an overflowing toilet bowl had turned the bathroom into a wade pool and threatened to expand into the hallway. I have no clue about plumbing, so I couldn’t make the water stop gushing over the edge. I pushed, pulled and twisted everything on the toilet that moved. Finally, I jammed a bottle of hand soap under something.
I lovingly mopped up the minor flood, piled the sopping towels in the middle of the bathroom, shut the door and ordered no one to use that bathroom until Daddy got home.
No, we did not all have a hearty laugh in the midst of the bathroom fiasco, but we did escape the chaos caused by panic, raised voices, and an overwhelmed spirit. We worked together. The big boys gathered towels and helped the little ones grab a snack.
No, I did not feel like smiling and speaking softly as the kids galloped through the water like I intentionally put it there for them to splash through; but the choice to love made the moment easier to manage.
My Jesus, may my chore never become greater than your choice to love me first, so that I may love. (1 John 4:19)
Leave a Comment! Who do you identify most with? Mary or Martha? Why?
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4 CommentsLeave a comment
Katy, this really hits home for me. I am more like Martha, but I’m trying so hard to become more like Mary! Honestly, I don’t know if I would have kept me cool with a bathroom incident like that, so go you for handling it with love and calm collectedness! You inspire me, girl. Thanks for sharing this. So much truth here.
Katy, wonderful post. Makes me stop and think about all the times I need to stop and think about my perspective and attitude… love attitude.
Martha Martha Martha!! Gosh this is so true especially in modern life hopefully not missing the point, I have no children but life is so busy some times I have to just stop and re aligne myself, aligne myself with God! ……I do love yes I do but to act out each scenerio in Love takes a special type of effort which I pray for daily!!
I spent over twenty five years being a Martha. Burnt myself out, life collapsed around me. I had a mental breakdown. I lost all my roles, leadership responsibilities, my job, my Church & gradually over the years my friends.
People love you when you’re a Martha. The Church commends people who serve, who help others, who spend their time doing.
I have a wonderful husband & 2 gorgeous daughters. But physically & mentally I’m all spent out. And this is 5 years on! I hardly leave the house, apart from for medical appointments. Spiritually I’m bankrupt, I knew how to serve God. But, over 30 years of being a Christian, I had managed to miss the must fundamental issue. How to love God. I know he loves me. But, when suddenly the lights go out, & you are no longer esteemed for the things that you do. You gradually realise how wrong you had it. God made us to be human beings, not human doings. Yet, we live in a World where so much brokenness is apparent. And are often fuelled by a expectation that if we see a need, & we can do it, then God wants us to. At the heart of us we all want to be good girls, and saying no, is not good.
God has had to completely disable & isolate me from people. I’m addicted to people. Fixing them, helping them, loving them, relationship with them. Now after 5 years, I know that I have a heart that feels empty, because it no longer receives the applause of man.
It’s also a heart that is empty, because I’ve shut God out, with complex self protection strategies, sin, shame & guilt, eat at my soul. No longer the good girl. She needs to die, to be crucified with Christ. And when she does eventually die, maybe the five years of disabling mental, physical & spiritual torment will bring about a new found relationship with my Heavenly Father. An intimacy with Jesus that I have not yet found. And a filling of my soul, with the tenderness & comfort of the Holy Spirit.
So please Martha’s be careful. Learn from my mistakes. It can take years to recover from such a traumatic breakdown. Years of feeling like life is flatlining.
How can you guard against burnout & breakdown?
One simple rule. Never say yes to anything. Until you have spent time asking God whether this is something He is wanting you to do. Wait, listen, stay with God. Do not act until He tells you to. (Yes all hell will break lose in your mind & emotions, the what ifs, but, I ought to) tell God all about them. He wants that controlling good girl to meet her death. Because it’s only as a Martha is crucified with Christ, that a Mary can be born.
Thanks for the opportunity to share Katy.
With love & prayers to all you sisters in Christ – we’re all in this together, for His glory.
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