Sunday, August 31, 2014

Grace: aka Martha

Is it just me or do we really give certain Bible characters a lot of flack for their weaknesses? As if we don't experience them too? Martha is one of those characters that I relate to a lot. She's a servant. She works hard. She sounds like she could be the oldest of her siblings...she came from a culture where woman ran households and took care of people. She came from a culture where there was no Meijer to go to when you ran out of bread or eggs. I'm not an expert on ancient (or even current) Jewish culture, but it seems to me that their culture had a lot of reverence and respect for rabbis and religious leaders. You honored your guests and treated them well.

So what else would a well-to-do woman do if she had a rabbi and his followers coming to her house? She would try to be hospitable. She would try to have a meal for them. She would want to show them honor in that way. I know from reading the gospels that Jesus attracted crowds wherever he went. It's possible that when he came to her home he might have brought a crowd with him. I highly doubt that Martha had tons of extra bread and food hanging around to feed all these people. She was probably overwhelmed because she had to prepare a lot of food to host these people and that's why she became angry.

So yeah, I identify with her. I express love by serving. I think she did too. But Jesus tells her that Mary, who chose to sit and listen to him, had chosen better. So I've been thinking about that. This past year has been very busy. I keep waiting for it to slow down but it hasn't. If anything it gets busier. I find myself agreeing to do more and more. And the things I'm doing aren't bad things. It could be serving lunch at church or watching someone's kids so they can get out. I get a lot of joy out of doing those things. But this past weekend it came to a head where I committed to doing too many things in one weekend and only barely was able to fulfill everything and I didn't get much sleep. I was so busy I couldn't live in the moment of what I was doing, I was already mentally on the next thing on my to-do list and wondering if I was going to make it to that thing or if I'd let someone down because I over-extended myself.

There seems to be so much to do and I feel so guilty for taking time off. I keep thinking things like, "you're never going to get anywhere if you don't start working now." "You're wasting your time." "You're flaky." "You're not ambitious." "Everyone thinks you're a failure...because you are a failure." "If you don't sign up for XYZ you're are selfish."

Usually when I first sign up for things it's out of this overflow of wanting to serve because, like I said, it's how I show love. To others and to God. But when I see this shift into obligation because I'm afraid of what others think I should be alerted to the fact that my motivation is no longer to serve God. It's to please others. Or maybe I do think God will be disappointed if I am not serving lunch or stacking chairs or doing something for someone else so they can take a break. Either way, I think both things are wrong. One is a misunderstanding of who God is, the other is a form of idolatry I think. I worry more about what others think than about sitting at God's feet and resting in Him and enjoying Him and learning from Him.

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