I’m a Martha. I’ve always been a Martha, and I’ve always been proud to be a Martha. But let me back up and explain the Mary/Martha categories for those of you who may be unfamiliar. In the New Testament, Jesus has a friend named Lazarus. Laz is not one of Jesus’ disciples. He’s not a ministry partner. He’s the buddy that Jesus always wants to hang out with when He’s passing through that town. Laz has two sisters, Mary and Martha, and the dynamics of their relationship are such that the whole gang is often found hanging out together – Jesus, and whoever’s travelling with Him, Laz, the sisters, and maybe a few other friends.
Martha seems to exude some first-born personality traits. She is in charge, she’s got her hand in many pots, and she’s always doing. She cooks and serves and shows her love to her friends by helping however she can.
Mary, on the other hand, prefers to sit with the guys and listen to (if not participate in) their conversation. We can’t assume that she doesn’t want to help at all, but she just doesn’t want to miss what’s being said. Visiting takes precedence over busywork.
Like I said, I’m a Martha. I’m busy and I like it. I like to know I’m being helpful, and I enjoy being involved in a lot of things. When people get talking about how wonderful Mary is, I stick my fingers in my ears and say, “La-la-la-la-la!” I guess I’ve always rationalized that Mary can sit and lap up all the praise (even from Jesus Himself) for now, but someone has to do the work and I’m willing to do it. And so I get on with my doing, doing, doing, and completely miss the fact that Jesus didn’t just praise Mary; He also rebuked Martha!
The lesson has finally started to hit home for me. It began a few weeks ago when I was praying (as I have been for over three years) for wisdom in parenting Teddy. “Lord, please give me wisdom so I know what to do.” “Lord, help us to be better parents.” “Lord, help us to be more consistent…more loving…more firm…better examples…” “Lord, none of this is working. I don’t know what to do!”
And the still, small voice spoke: “You don’t need to do anything. It’s not about what you do or don’t do. I will do it. He is Mine.”
I don’t need to DO anything?!?! It was barely sinking in. It sounded so foreign, so refreshing, so strangely familiar. I don’t need to do it. God will do it.
It seems whenever God is teaching me something, and I feel like I’m getting it, He says, “No, you’re not quite there yet. Let me take you a bit further with this.” And so it was with this lesson.
I had just auditioned for our church’s Easter Passion Play. I hadn’t auditioned for a specific part, nor had I seen the script. I just felt like I should be involved somehow, so I tried out. Wouldn’t you know it? Just a few hours after I had this conversation with God, I got the email from the drama director. I was to play the part of Martha. I must say, God sure knows how to make a point.
But He wasn’t finished yet. The lesson for my Bible study group the next week was about God being our Pursuer. The depth of emotion and revelation that filled me through that study will have to be saved for another posting. Suffice it to say for now, though, that God reiterated His point quite succinctly. He is my Pursuer. He is my son’s Pursuer. He is on the job. I needn’t be. It is time for me to take a cue from Mary, and just sit and enjoy His company.
I’d like to check this lesson off as ‘learned’, but I have a feeling I’ve only just begun. Getting into character as the original Martha means I’ll be learning this lesson very intimately and very publicly in the months to come. It’s gonna be a wild ride!