I’m sharing a blog post I wrote in 2010 on some verses from today’s chapter. I don’t feel exactly the same about it, but it’s kinda fun to revisit my perspective.
“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.’ But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.’ ” Luke 10:38-42
This story has always been hard for me. Sometimes I even roll my eyes when it makes it’s way into a sermon or a women’s devotional (it often does). To me, it can seem like a judgement on people who focus on logistics and an excuse for type B people like myself to over-look them. I wonder how I would feel if I were Martha. Trying to serve and impress Jesus, like I so often do, only to be unnoticed and reprimanded. Compared. Nothing is worse than a woman being compared to another woman in the room. Why would Jesus do this?
But I know, like I always know, that Jesus is right. He’s never wrong and I believe that in the deep part of my heart. The part of my heart that while trusting God’s word is true, questions and sifts through it. Like sand in my hand, I pour it back and forth, weighing it and examining every part. I’ve sat in many Bible studies or read blogs about this story in Luke and the lesson is a good one and usually the same one: Jesus doesn’t want or need our performance, he wants our hearts and eyes on him. To sit at his feet and hear his words.
I love the part where Martha asks him if he thinks her circumstances are unfair. Nothing about being with Jesus is fair. Yet I still point my finger at someone else’s life and like a child, exclaim that something’s not fair. I noticed Jesus doesn’t really address her question, he gently shows her that she’s missing the point. That she’s focusing on the wrong things.
But this morning I saw more in the story.
“My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
When I zoom out and look at this story, I see what I always see: my anxiety. When God isn’t ruling my life, fear is. I read what I always read: God telling me not to fear, but to trust his words.
The radical, liberal and rebellious Jesus I know and love so much saw women during a time in history when they were unseen. Jesus called a woman out of the kitchen to hear his teachings.
I wonder if this Scripture is hard for me because its a reminder of The Great Struggle in my life: to cling to the one reliable thing in this world, God’s Word, and let go of everything else. To not rattle off my list of fears to him, but to listen. To “be still and know that he is God” instead of worrying about details. To believe him.
I write about anxiety and fear a lot because I’m anxious and fearful a lot. I love God and believe the Holy Spirit hosts my soul, but I am often riddled with uncertainty. That’s hard to reconcile, as a believer. If you read this blog, you’ll see my attempts to poke holes in Scripture so I can make room for my sin. It never works.
I don’t like this story, because I’m Martha. I’m the one that tries to perform. I’m the one comparing myself, I’m the one oppressing myself. Jesus wants me liberated. Wants me free. He invites me into rest, to sit down and hear his sweet words. To leave the dishes for tomorrow. He reminds me that all of this life here, that I worry so much about, will be gone. He reminds me of the gift that lasts forever. His word.
I hope, over time, I ask God less questions and believe him more. I hope that eventually I read this story and feel a little more like Mary. Maybe even more like Jesus; calling people out of their slavery and inviting them to hear God’s words.