I had a headache. The snow was falling. Again. The battery on my phone was dead. I was exceedingly parched. It was Sunday and the week stretched on before me. I sat in the old white van; bouncing along with 500 tabs open in my mind. There was the phone to charge, the water to find, the clothes to change into; room to clean, books to read, people to text, dishes to wash, and at least a hundred more things. Along with all the “to dos” there was all the “want tos” or all the “should dos”. I really should reach out to that friend; I really need to write a letter to that girl; I really need to pray for him; I really should visit her; I really ought to start doing that. And on and on and on and on….
So, as soon as the tires reached the snow-covered cement, I was off. I was like Martha in the bible, but times 10. “Martha-with-her-hair-on-fire” as it were. The snow leaked into my black heels as I ran, narrowly missing an icy patch on our driveway, but the coldness didn’t bother me. I was Martha on a mission; the mission to conquer my “to do”, “must do”, “need to” and “ought to” list. So, down the stairs I raced. Up again. Past the kids and dad on the couch. I waved, yes. But then it was off again to the next mission It wasn’t until 10:00 that night, when all the texts were sent, all the water was drunk, the clothes were neatly stacked and put away and the wild hair had been tamed (for the moment at least) that I sat and thought; really thought as to what I had just accomplished. Wait, what HAD I accomplished even?
Two days later I was talking with someone who mentioned my busyness. Haha, I laughed. Yes, I know I relate to Martha. Poor Martha. The slave in the kitchen. The poor servant making lunch while her lazy sister Mary just sat. And listened.
“Well, maybe it’s time for you to become less like Martha and more like Mary. Maybe you need to cut out the to do, must do, and should do lists. Maybe you ought to stop flying hither and thither and be still. Maybe you need to stop doing so much. Maybe you need to focus on the quality of your work, over the quantity of your work. ”
Those thoughts promptly terrified me. Why did they terrify me? Perhaps because the thought of sitting and being still seems so incredulously unproductive. Perhaps, like Martha, my worth is tied to my productivity.
I wonder if Martha ever laid in bed at night, re-hashing her day and thinking how “good” she did, and thinking that her Lord was pleased with her based on how many things she checked off her list. Maybe she said, quietly in her heart, “Look, Lord. Aren’t you pleased with me? Look at all my labor and work and sacrifice service. Did you see how, when everyone else was sitting around, I was the one on my hands and in the kitchen, scrubbing the muddied floor while praying feverishly for the 47 people I said I’d pray for….? Do you see the dishes I scrubbed, and the bread I baked, the fish I caught, the person I encouraged, and the clothes I folded? ” Sometimes, I say things along those lines.
And perhaps the voice of the Lord would say to me just what He said to Martha: “Ah, Sophia. Sophia. You are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion which will not be taken away from her.” I could imagine Jesus saying that in his kind, gentle way. I could imagine Martha’s face flaming, her eyes bugging out, while the hot pan of fried turnips in her hand became suddenly very heavy. I know it was a rebuke that went to her very core. Because it goes to mine.
There is something in me that gadges value by busyness As if that was what Jesus wanted. What did He say? “I desire mercy and not sacrifice”. And so this Martha asks herself, “what is truly important? Does Jesus truly care how many boxes you checked off today?
I love how Elyse Fitzpatrick put it: “Jesus chided Martha for failing to do the one important thing: Listen to His heart of love for her. Lunch could wait. His love and her need couldn’t.”
Maybe what would please Jesus more would be for me to become more like Mary – to be able to sit and listen to Him and accept His love for me, instead of trying and striving to prove my worthiness.
Maybe one day in heaven, Martha and Fia will meet. Maybe we won’t even have to say a word to each other. We’ll just smile and nod.
Two restless women who finally found rest in their Savior.