"I say that the strongest principle of growth lies in human choice."
- George Eliot
The house is clean. The table is set. Dinner is warming. Candles are lit. There's a beautiful aroma throughout the home. Baked chicken with herbs, fresh bread, apple fragrance - all mingle, at once giving warmth and stirring the hunger of guests. All seems perfect, but you are exhausted. Stressed. Overcome with serving. Consumed by fear of a failed evening.
We all want success. We all want to serve. We want to show our love for others by providing a beautiful meal and making our guests comfortable in our home. Or perhaps we serve in other ways - teaching a class, helping others in need with errands and chores, visiting those who are ill, reaching out however we can, any way we can, whenever we can. We all give. Even when we are simply serving our family we are giving. And we are blessed for doing so. And others are richer for our giving.
You know the story well. You've read books and heard many sermons about it. Mary, the one with a servant's heart compared to Martha, the one encumbered with serving. In Luke 10:38 - 42, Jesus was in their home. They were sisters with different priorities. Both loved God. Both loved serving Him. However, Martha was frustrated and tired. She had probably spent hours preparing a meal for Christ. She wanted everything to be perfect for Him. She felt overwhelmed and wanted help, and her sister had forsaken her.
Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus. Martha desperately exclaimed, "Lord, . . . tell her to help me." Look, I'm tired. I'm doing this all by myself, while my sister is just sitting there, doing nothing. Don't you care that I'm the one bearing this burden?
What did she expect Him to say? What did she want Him to say? She wanted sympathy. She wanted appreciation and respect for the work she was doing. She wanted to be the one Jesus cared for. And He did care for Martha. Very much. But His reply to her was not what she was looking for.
"Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed. And Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her." Martha must have felt like a dagger pierced her heart. His words hit her right between the eyes. She had not realized her own need. Martha had meant well, but she had misplaced priorities. She was distracted by her own concerns and pride, worried about impressing others, and . . . she had confused serving God with having a servant's heart. Christ told her that Mary had chosen the good part that she could not lose.
Mary chose . . .
moments of worship, rather than a lifetime of worry
thirst for Christ, rather than self-fulfilling labor
the Bread of Life, rather than just baking bread
the words of Christ, rather than the praise of men
the presence of Jesus, not just the essence of Him
the risk of offending others, rather than pleasing them
We are all busy people. We have many things that concern us and our families. And it's only natural to be caught up in our moments of life, at times becoming so occupied that as my dear grandma used to say, we "don't know if we're coming or going." Just remember that in those moments, when you are tired, consumed with activity, trying so hard to serve, to do your best, to live up to so many expectations of so many people, Jesus cares. Through your worship of Him, you will gain strength and find His purpose for your life. Your life is more than just getting a job done; it's more that simply tucking in your children at night, than pleasing your boss, paying bills, cooking dinner for your family, serving your church. It's more.
Jesus is your life-giver, the lover of your soul, and you are the apple of His eye. As your gaze is turned to Him, as you take a few moments to sit at His feet, you will find everything you need. He will give you strength, wisdom, a deeper meaning for you life. Christ will give you Himself, and He is the "good part," which you will never lose.