“'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, '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 (NIV)
I can’t tell you when it happened because I don’t remember, but I can tell you how it happened — how the words became a trigger, sending shock waves up my spine and chills down my cheeks.
The trigger comes in different phrases, sometimes decorated with sarcasm and sighs. Sometimes it comes with a smile or sometimes as a slight. Sometimes it comes from strangers, or it even comes from those I know and love.
You’re so busy, they say.
You’re never available.
You must have your hands full.
The words cut and sting, seeping deeply into me and dancing with the old me who tried so hard to be and do all things for all people, at all times, in all places.
And I want nothing more than to say, “I’m not distant! I’m not preoccupied, and I’m not busy — I’m where I belong.”
I’m reminded of Luke 10, the story of a holy scenario where a woman named Martha opened up her home to Jesus while her sister Mary opened up her heart. (Luke 10:38-39)
In the midst of my season, in the midst of the swirling feelings that tell me I’m failing or letting everyone down, Jesus’ words echo within me: “‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘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).
I am Mary, standing in an ordinary home and paying no mind to piles of dishes. I am Mary, staring into the holy here-and-now, holding out my hands to embrace the one(s) immediately before me. I am Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, back bent and knees bowed right where I belong, right where I’ve always needed to be.
Can it be that Martha, comparing and complaining, was begging and beckoning Mary to leave a place where she belonged? Can it be that this story is not as much about busyness as it is about being and embracing where you belong?
Neither of the two women were wrong in the way they welcomed Jesus. Can it be that the tension between them came because of comparison?
This tension — this misunderstanding of another’s calling to do and be — happens in relationships anytime we deem anyone obliged to the obvious.
But Jesus comes and calls to us in different ways. And in this, we are invited to uniquely respond in the many authentic and different ways we desire to work for and worship Him. Sometimes this looks like cleaning carpets and preparing programs. Sometimes it looks like saying “no” and abiding in slow and unseen seasons.
You might be tucked away with toddlers, or you might be in the quiet of your writing room. You might be bent over at the feet of an aging parent, or you might be lost in worship on your way home from work. You might be stepping into Bible study or cleaning the only toilet in your home for the umpteenth time. You might be saying “no” to someone or something — sports games or serving — all so you can say “yes” to the one(s) in front of you.
I don’t know what calls you’ve missed or the meetings you’ve rescheduled. I don’t know the shaded boxes on your calendar that serve as boundaries around your giving, serving, doing and being.
But this I do know: We don’t have to break our sight from the one(s) before us. We don’t have to make the world believe we’re making the most of our time. We don’t have to come up with excuses; we don’t have to strain to explain ourselves.
Hear and heed the call to be and do for Jesus above all others. Until Jesus calls us further and deeper, we will keep leading and loving right where we are, in the ways we are.
Father, help us to be OK with being where we are — no matter what that looks like. We want to see You in whatever ways You call us to serve or be still. In Your presence is where we belong. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (NIV)
How are you serving Jesus, in either your doing or your being, right where you are?
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