I’ve been reading the story of Mary and Martha a lot lately. (Luke 10:38-42) It keeps coming up somehow. That’s too vague. What I mean is that God keeps bringing it up. Because I am totally Martha. Distracted by all the things that need to be done.
When I was a kid I read this story and thought, “Yes. Priorities. Sitting at the Lord’s feet is way more important than kneading bread, Martha. Duh. Take a clue from your sister.” The message was clear. I liked this story as a kid for its simplicity – even a child can understand that.
I got a little older and thought, “Yes. Priorities. Sitting at the Lord’s feet is way more important than doing all the tasks I always seem to feel like I need to do. Take a clue from Mary.” I realized that I was more like Martha than like Mary (around about the time I started becoming an adult responsible for getting things done.) I worked on having my quiet time in the morning and putting God first. (And stopped saying Duh.)
Then I got a little older (how does that keep happening?!) and thought, “Yes. Priorities. Relationships are more important than tasks. Huh. Take a hint, Andra.” This took a little longer to grasp. Not just Jesus (who definitely is the most important of all), but all of my relationships are more important than vacuuming. I have to fight for this in my mind daily.
Then I got a little older and thought, “But goodness, SOMEONE has to get that cleaned up. SOMEONE has to cook the meal. SOMEONE has to write that email. Lord, don’t you care that this work has to be done? Which is it – tasks or people?” (This was yesterday, by the way, so there isn’t much getting older in this story.) I would LOVE to just sit around and play games with my husband, read books with a kid on each thigh all afternoon, call up all my friends every evening, throw the paperwork to the wind (Can I say that again? It just sounds so deliciously wonderful. Throw the paperwork to the wind.) (And…one more time. Throw the paperwork to the wind. Ahhh. Okay, I’m back. Thanks.)
“Andra, Andra,” the Lord answered, “you are concerned about many things.” Yes, I know. And they won’t go away without me taking care of them. I’m not asking for someone else to help me with them. I really think they are my responsibility. That, I get. But how am I supposed to get them done and still sit at the Lord’s feet? Still put relationships first? This frustrates me like crazy.
I know. Balance your time. Take care of the people first and then you will have time to take care of your work. Put the big rocks into your jar first and all the pebbles and sand and water will fit but if I put the pebbles and sand and water in first, the big rocks won’t fit. I know all that. It’s not helping me.
“Only one thing is needed,” Jesus said to her. Do I really believe that? Just one thing? Surely He didn’t mean we don’t need to cook. My family would starve. That’s not helpful for the relationship. So what did He mean?
I think He meant right then. One thing that evening. Jesus, the Lord and Savior, is sitting in your house for that day. Do you A. Make bread to serve him or B. Sit and listen to Him. It’s your big chance, maybe your only chance, to hear the Son of God in your own house, one on one (well, two on one since Mary’s already at it.) That choice is clear. There should be no doubt, if Martha really thought about it. If she had just stopped for two seconds to ask the right question.
How many things are needed?
That’s my question. How many things are really, truly needed right now. Sometimes, five things are needed. So prioritize those five things and get at it. But sometimes, only one thing is needed. I may think that ten other things need to get done. They probably do need to get done. Later. But right then, only one thing is needed. And if I can chose what is better it will not be taken away from me. The dirty dishes may not be taken away from me either, but they will be there later. The relational chance may not.