Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Mary and Martha In Me

In Luke 10:38-42 we read:Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village;and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.And she had a sister named Mary,who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word.But Martha was distracted with much serving,and she approached Him and said,"Lord,do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?Therefore tell her to help me."And Jesus answered and said to her,"Martha,Martha,you are worried and troubled about many things.But one thing is needed,and Mary has chosen that good part,which will not be taken away from her."

Over the years I have thought much about this passage of scripture.I have always loved it for many reasons.One of them being that I can readily identify with Martha.In fact I can clearly recall a memory from about 15 years ago(Yikes!Has it been that long?).I was single,living in a townhouse with my younger sister Sandy and attending church together with her there in our hometown of Sacramento,CA.We(meaning Sandy as I recall)had invited the singles group over.She has always been the life of the party.Very gregarious.I was always more quiet and bookish.So,when this social happened she was out in the living room where all the action was but I was in the guessed it...serving...making sure everyone had plenty to eat and drink,etc....while Sandy enjoyed the presence of all our guests.From that time on my new nickname in the singles group was"Martha."Though all my serving was appreciated I still look back and wonder how much I may have missed by being so focused on the external things like food and drink for our guests.What was it in me that made me feel more comfortable in the kitchen(besides a basic shyness)than out with our guests.I have sometimes wondered if the Biblical Martha was somewhat shy and therefore felt more comfortable behind the scenes.I do not know what her motives were for doing what she did.Perhaps she felt it was an obligation,a duty to feed everyone as opposed to sitting at Jesus feet.Perhaps it was a cultural thing.Whatever her motive was she was very upset that her sister was just sitting around(in Martha's eyes anyhow).I can just imagine her frustration turning into a slow burning anger.Maybe she began to bang pots and pans around(LOL...most likely not...I am not certain of what they cooked with or on in Biblical times...but I am fairly certain it was not stainless steel or aluminum pots and pans).I can just imagine her reaching a boiling point and bursting in upon Jesus,Mary and all else gathered there to express her frustration to all who would listen.She felt left out and put upon I'm sure.And stressed.I can relate.You want to do something nice for people but noone else seems to care about it.They just are enraptured with their guest so much that food and drink and all other obligations pale in comparison.And I think that was the point Jesus was trying to make.That though what Martha was doing was important it paled in comparison with the food,the bread, the words of LIFE that HE was speaking to them.The food He provided was to nourish them eternally.I so appreciate Jesus' response to Martha.I picture Him looking at her with nothing but love.And firmly but with so much mercy reminding her that she was too caught up in that which did'nt have eternal and lasting value.I picture Him gently reminding her that Mary has chosen that better thing.Spending time in His presence.At His feet.Listening to Him and learning from Him.I just get the sense that He was never harsh with Martha.That He extended grace and an invitation to sit at His feet like Mary.He issues the same call to us today.To put aside earthly distractions whatever they may be and focus on that better thing.It's not easy.I still struggle with it.The Martha in me sees the dishes that need to be done.Or the carpet that needs vacuumed.But,by His grace,I am hopeful that I am the way to finding that much needed balance between my need to spend much time with the Lord as well as my need to do more mundane tasks like fixing dinner.What about you?Have you found that balance or are you still seeking it sometimes like me?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Nurturing Day!

You may be wondering why I chose to call this post something other than"Happy Mother's Day."I have a very good reason.Not all women are mothers.But we all nurture.Churches everywhere will pass out flowers to all women who have borne children.Nothing wrong with that.Except not all women have borne children.They will be the ones sitting while all of the mothers stand to recieve all the accolades and flowers.What is a happy day for some may be a sorrow filled day for others.Maybe you've never had children.You may still be grieving.Or maybe your mother is no longer alive.And you miss her.Maybe you did'nt have a perfect mother growing up.Maybe your mother was not nurturing in the way you needed her to be.If any of these apply to you today my heart really goes out to you.I know how it feels.I never had children.My own mother is passed on.And she was not an ideal candidate for motherhood.But I still miss her.I was able to make my peace with her years before she passed in 2001.God has allowed me to nurture other things in my life in the absence of children of my own.I have friends.I have siblings.I have had pets.I have even nurtured flower gardens.:-)And I have nurtured my husband.In my youth I babysat alot and taught preschoolers in church on Sunday mornings.As a middle aged woman I have had opportunity to nurture my step-granddaughter Hope.And her mom and uncle too in some ways.Nurturing can come in many ways I believe.More than just cooking and cleaning and teaching for a houseful of children.What about praying for someone.Encouraging someone in the way God has gifted you...writing,speaking,painting, many ways and opportunities to nurture others(and things such as gardens) even if you are not a mother.So I dedicate this post to all of you who wanted to be mothers but are'nt on this sometimes sad day.I also dedicate this to women who are step-mom's and raising someone else's children.What a challenge you have.You may not have children(or are raising someone else's children) but you are nurturing.You are valuable.You are so loved by God.And me.Have a blessed day.Do something nice for yourself.You deserve it too.:-)