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Women of the Bible: Martha and Mary - Details or Delight

The Lord your God is with you;
the mighty One will save you
and he will take joyful delight in you.

Zephaniah 3:17

“I delight greatly in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God.

For he has clothed me with garments of salvation

and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness.”

Isaiah 61:10a 

Lists. I love lists. I’m borderline obsessed with them. Checking off items on my list is pure magnificence. A half check means I’m about half way done with the task. I will even add an item I’ve accomplished that wasn’t on the list, just so I can check it off.

Some of you are saying, “Wow” with wide-open eyes shaking your head, and you are writing down the name of a good therapist to send my way. But I know I have some fellow mates out there who are nodding, saying, “Yes! That’s me!”

I also have the gift of hostessing. I love to wait on people. This is mostly a good thing, but not always. I have actually offended other hostesses by waiting on their guests more than they are. Thankfully, most of my friends love me enough to extend grace when I overstep and just laugh at me and tell me to just stop and relax.

That’s probably why, out of all the women in the Bible, I relate to Martha the most.

I figure when I get to heaven, her and I will meet up quickly. If one of the holy hosts spills his or her beverage, Martha and I will collide on our way running full-speed ahead to get the paper towels to wipe it up.

Then again, maybe there won’t be spills in heaven.

But, hopefully by then Martha and I will have learned to put these gifts in their proper place and thus glorify God and truly help others in most meaningful ways (John 15:8; Romans).

I have a sneaking suspicion that most of us can relate to Martha, though.

As mom's we’re the ones that make sure that our daughters have all their soccer gear ready before they leave for the game. We’re the ones that make sure the family doesn’t run out of milk. We’re the ones who set up the dental appointments for everyone in the family. We’re the ones who buy the get-well card for an aunt. We’re the hard workers at our job's, who come home to coats strewn on the floor and more piles of work staring snarkily our direction.

If you remember, it's Martha that has opened her home to Jesus and his disciples (of course). She is scurrying around making sure everyone's comfortable and having their needs met. “Are they thirsty? Are they too hot or cold? What food would they like? Are any of them vegan?” (Luke 10:38-42.)

And where do we find Martha’s sister, Mary? Just quietly sitting at Jesus feet, listening to him.

What? How can she just sit there when there is so much work to be done? Couldn't she at least set the table? 

We’ve all been there, right?

Even those of us who love to serve. We are overwhelmed at times by the work set before us, and a growing sense of irritation bubbles up within us as we look at our coworker or spouse, laughing away, thoroughly enjoying themselves with others, as we scurry about accomplishing the tasks at hand.

This is where we find Martha. She has had enough.

She scurries over to Jesus. Surely he will be on her side. His wisdom astounded the masses, right? He will set things straight since her sister probably won’t listen to her any way.

“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” cries Martha in her sweaty, breathless distress.

I can just see Jesus in his chair. His conversation interrupted, as his eyes calmly leave the crowd in the room and land on Martha’s.

Jesus lovingly responds by calling her by name and acknowledging where she is at. Then he speaks truth.

“Martha, Martha… you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

…chosen what is better.

You see, our gifts our good. Our lists can be good. Our servant-mindedness can be good… But, spending time with Jesus is better.

And listening to Jesus is better, instead of telling him what to do. (Do we not often fall into this trap in conversations with our Savior?)

As my niece recently pointed out to a sanctuary full of young, busy women:

 “I have been seeking God for weeks what He has for you, and He keeps bringing me back to the words ‘realigning’ and ‘refocusing.’ That’s what you are here to do tonight. We get so caught up in life…

And really, what God wants from us is to look back into His eyes… That’s what He wants. To remember that we are His beloved daughters that He delights in… And to be reminded that He is our ultimate delight.” (John 17, Luke 15:8-9, Psalm 147:11, Psalm 18:19; Proverbs 8:30, Proverbs 23:26, Psalm 43:4, Psalm 35:9, Luke 1:14)

My heavenly father, as I incline my eyes towards your face, when I attune my ears to your spirit that lives right within me, may I delight in you, and see that you delight in me! May this be top priority, overshadowing everything else on my to-do list.

Songs of Praise: Adoration
Women of the Bible: An Unlikely Advocate - Rahab
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    Sally Cranham is a singer and writer from the UK. She uses biblical narrative and her own experience to write deeply into the heart of the human condition. She currently works as a volunteer for SourceMN as their Arts Outreach Coordinator and has lived as a Residential Volunteer at Source’s anti-trafficking transitional annex alongside women who have come out of the life of prostitution.
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