Read Luke 10:38-42.
Irritation surged as her shin grazed her sister’s unmoving frame. She sighed as she let the spoon land hard against the bowl, making just a little more noise than was necessary. Didn’t her sister know how badly she wanted to hear the words that Jesus spoke? Didn’t her sister realize that she’d left her alone to do all the work? Martha was understandably annoyed: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40, NET).
“Martha, Martha,” He answered her tenderly, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42, NET).
Don’t let anyone tell you that Mary loved Jesus more. Might Martha’s annoyance have been at least in part that she wished she were seated there beside her sister? Might she have been longing to set down the dishtowel and enjoy the presence of the One she’d invited in? (Did you catch that, by the way—that it was Martha who asked Jesus to come into her home?)
Yes, Mary chose the better thing.
But Martha was the reason that Better Thing was in their home at all!
What would make Martha nearly miss the One she had invited in?
I can’t say for certain. But I can tell you why I’ve missed Him. I can tell you why I’ve run frantically from oven to sink rather than rest at the feet of my God. I can tell you why I’ve fought furiously to keep moving when the Spirit inside of me is whispering: Slow down.
I am a little bit afraid that He might have only come for the meal I promised Him.
I am a little bit afraid that He might not enjoy my presence as much as I enjoy His.
I am a little bit afraid that He might like my sister more.
I am a little bit afraid that if I sat down to listen, He might stand to leave.
Maybe Martha busied her hands to distract her spirit from the nagging fears. Maybe she kept her distance in a strange attempt to keep Him near.
And all the while, He just wanted her.
I sat at an unrushed lunch a few weeks ago, and I told a trusted friend things I didn’t know I had been thinking, didn’t know I had been feeling. Because she was still and she was listening and she cared. It is a tender thing to realize that someone has the time to just be with you.
But it is a vulnerable thing too. The small talk inevitably runs out. And in the silence, you find the surfacing of the deeper things. When you have nothing “of value” left to offer, you finally realize that you are the thing of value.
Mary knew it to be true. So Mary sat still in the presence of her Lord. And even as I write this I can hear our world’s response. Maybe she didn’t have all the responsibilities that her sister shouldered. Maybe she was less involved. Maybe she didn’t realize all that she was leaving undone. Maybe she just had more time than Martha.
Yeah, maybe. Or maybe she took the time. Maybe she realized that her worth was not bound up in her service. Maybe she knew just how much Jesus enjoyed her presence. Maybe that brought the kind of freedom we can hardly fathom.
In a world where lack of time is a status symbol, I have found myself frantically filling my time instead of intentionally taking my time. To enjoy. To delight. To rest. To be still. To sit at the feet of the One I long to enjoy. To let Him speak. To learn His voice.
I have fought against those things because stillness feels unimportant. And that makes me feel unimportant. Yes, that’s it. It makes me feel unimportant to say that my day has had moments that were not filled with productivity.
Martha forgets that she is loved. So she fights to prove that she is important.
We are crying out—in as many different ways as there are humans—for someone to tell us that we’re worthy. And a Voice cries out from an ancient crowd, “It is finished!” (John 19:30).
May we silence the frantic rush of lives that scream back to the bloodied Savior, “No, it’s not!”
Because it is. The declaration has been made. We may feel unworthy or insignificant. Others may tell us, in word or glance, that we don’t amount to much, but the nail-scarred hands and the spear-pierced side of the Son of God say otherwise. Jesus Christ hung on the cross, and He gave up His Spirit so that the Father might pour out that Spirit into the hearts of His children: “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Galatians 4:6).
We can lean back loved, and find our worth in the steady rhythm of our Father’s heart.
Every Martha can drop to her knees beside our sister and enjoy the company of the One that we invited in.
We find that He didn’t only come for the meal we promised Him.
We find that He enjoys our presence just as much as we enjoy His.
We find that He loves us every bit as much as He loves our sister.
We find that when we sit down to listen, He will never stand to leave.
We find that it was never our distance that was keeping Him near.
What fears make you hesitate to settle in the Presence of the Lord?
What excuses do you make for not sitting still in the Presence of Jesus? (Sometimes I can identify my excuses more easily when I look at the rationalizations I make for why others have an easier time than me. What reasons are you inclined to give for why other people are more available to spend time with the Lord?)
What do you tend to turn to and how do you fill your time and/or your days when you feel unimportant? Could we let those tendencies alert us to the fact that we are feeling unimportant or insecure? When we are tempted to turn to those things, might we turn to the Lord instead?
Set aside some time this week to truly rest in the presence of the Lord. Don’t bring your phone or your journal or even your Bible. Find a quiet place and sit down alone. Don’t even worry about making conversation with God. Acknowledge that you’ve come to rest in Him. Ask Him to teach you what that means. Ask Him to teach you how to rest. And then do it. Rest. Relax. Close your eyes. Enjoy your God. Trust that He enjoys you too.