Have you ever had that feeling when the food cupboard is getting empty again, milk is running low and money doesn’t arrive until the day after tomorrow? It always works out in the end, but we’ve probably all had that day-before-the-wages-come feeling. Image what would happen if guests arrived, just at this point in the month.
Mary and Martha
May as well dive right in with this one. We’re going to church. Open your bibles at Luke10:38-42, or better still read the next bit.
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Maybe this was going through Martha’s mind*:
This famous guy was passing by and asked if he and his mates could come in for a meal. Of course I recognised him right away. He’s that Rabbi or Prophet who stirring everything up with those fat-cat preachers in the city. What an thing, to have him in my house. Just wait till I tell Sarah down the road! But my gosh there’s lot of them. And I’ve just remembered the kitchen is a mess. There are plates in the sink and don’t even get me started on James’ work-clothes in the bathroom. Oh no, I’m running low on oil and those herbs. Where’s the bread? James and his work mates again, I’ll have words with ’em,so help me! Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. At least Martha is here to help. I’ll send her next door to see if we can borrow something. Where on earth IS she!!
And what abut Mary*?
It’s Him, it’s really Him! I’ve heard so much about Him. He’s been healing sick people and putting the Synagogue leaders straight on a few things. And some of the stories I’ve heard about him. I can hardly believe them. Apparently there’s thing He does with water and scraps of food.
For instance, a couple of years back there was this wedding which ran out of wine. I mean, they’d ordered loads but, well, the grooms family can drink a bit, and more of them showed up than expected. Apparently he took the hand washing water and turned it into wine. A good one too, I heard.
And there was this other time, twice really, when he was telling pretty much the whole town about God and His kingdom, and it got so late there was no chance to get any food. Then this kid pops up with his lunch for the next day and asks if it’s any use. Next thing I know everyone is full, and there is waste food everywhere. I think they needed twelve big baskets to clear it all up.
What on earth is Martha making such a fuss about?
Well, that’s both conversations, but I am still with Martha on this one. I really want to be with Mary, honest, but I get so caught up with what my physical eyes can see, I can’t see what my spiritual eyes are seeing.
Martha did though. In Jesus, her physical and spiritual eyes were in agreement.
She saw just about the kindest man in the world, in their garden. Talking with them, telling them things. Teaching them the things that only the men got to hear on Saturday in the temple. Just by being near Him made everything feel all right in the world. There wasn’t any need to to go rushing around making the table ready. He and his friends seem quite comfy in the garden. And stressing over dinner? Hello! Wine and twelve baskets of left over food? Martha has heard these stories too, so what is she getting herself worked up about?
Our daily bread
Martha can only see the guests who need cooking for and the preparations that need to be done. She seems to be running low on, at the very least, emotional resources. Mary’s focus is set on Jesus. She can see that He can fulfil every need.
When the disciples ask Jesus how to pray, He taught them what we now call the Lord’s Prayer. In this, Jesus teaches us to ask for our daily bread. He would not teach us to pray to ask in this way if Father God had no intention, or ability, to answer that prayer.
Our heavenly Father has the desire and the ability to fulfil our needs. Although I envy the missionaries who can say grace at an empty table, and answer the door to find a basket of food on the doorstep; we have seen God provide for us too. Maybe not in grand way, but through everyday acts of kindness. I wrote about this once in “A puppy called Courage“.
Sometimes though, I still worry about bills, clothes and food; and I as write these words I hear Jesus ticking me off, reminding me of what He said about the flowers in the field. Can you see how long a way I’ve got to go in trusting Jesus completely? In the rush to get to or from work, in the fetching of the shopping, in the midst of my daily life, I don’t hear the gentle voice of the saviour saying,
My dear Alex, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about and Mary has discovered it.
* – Yes, buckets of artistic license. Don’t care. Take it up with your vicar. 🙂