Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tasmanian She-Devil

Last week I started reading a new book for a small group study:  Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver.  The author's focus is finding intimacy with God despite the busyness of life.  By the time I got to page 3 I was giggling.  By page 4 I was laughing out loud.  As the author relates the story of Mary and Martha from Luke 10:38-42 she makes modern day comparisons.  Martha was "the original Martha Stewart" and "Israel's answer to Betty Crocker".  When faced with a group of hungry men "she doesn't whip up an impromptu casserole of Kraft macaroni and cheese and Ballpark franks".  While managing the meal preparations she "barks commands to her kitchen staff".  Meanwhile, her sister sits at the feet of Jesus. 
"Where's Mary?  Has anyone seen Mary?" she asks a servant scurrying by.  If Mary changed the sheets, Martha might have time to fashion an ark from the cheese and carve the fruit into little animals marching two by two.  Productions of this magnitude require the skill of a master planner.  And Martha's an adminstrator extraordinaire - a whirling dervish of efficiency, with a touch of Tasmanian she-devil thrown in to motivate the servants.
Here's the thing...I've always identified with Martha.  Sitting still is definitely not on my list of skills.  Especially not when there are people to feed.  If I was Martha I would be filled with righteous indignation at the sight of my sister sitting lazily with the men while I did all the work.  It wouldn't have been pretty. 

And yet, Jesus takes Mary's side.  Jesus says Mary has "chosen the better part". 

If I'm honest I have to admit that my sarcastic inner voice would have said something like "Okay Jesus, let's see how much better it is when all you have to eat for dinner is stale bread and a pot of beans".  I would have kept right on doing what I was doing and left Jesus and Mary to their own devices - all the more determined to put together a fabulous meal.  But when I really stopped to think about it later that night I would have been confused and maybe a little hurt.  I mean, why does Mary get recognition for doing nothing while I work my rear end off to serve?  Doesn't Jesus care that I'm working so hard?

Now before you get too worried about me and my sarcastic tendencies, let me assure you that I understand the message behind this story.  It's so obviously more important to Jesus that we develop a relationship with Him rather than simply checking off our religious to-do list.  And when we grasp that concept we can revel in the freedom that comes from truly knowing Christ.  It seems so simple, and yet, for someone like me it's so difficult to change what comes naturally.  I'm comfortable in my busyness.  I like checking off my to-do list as quickly as possible.  My skills are a gift from God, but he wants me to sit still and not use them sometimes?

I had been running this contradiction over and over in my mind for a few days (while mentally chuckling about the image of Martha, a cheese ark, and little fruit giraffes) and I came across this quote on a blog I follow:
The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning.  All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals.  And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back, in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view.  Letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.  And so on, all day.  Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings.  Coming in out of the wind.
~C.S. Lewis
I don't think I can say it any better than that.  It's a constant battle for me, and it's certain to only get harder in about 60 days when a nurse places my first child in my arms.  But I owe it to the God who blesses me daily to take time to come out of the wind.  Time to silence my inner Tasmanian she-devil and not get too caught up in the mundane details.  Time to find Jesus in the ordinary things and pass those insights on to my little family. 

I'm excited to get farther into my small group study and to gain encouragement from other women who struggle with the same things.  In the meantime, I'm going to go organize some files in my study.  But only for a little while.  Then I'm going to spend my evening with my husband and enjoy the pleasure of his company without making mental lists or fretting about a garage that needs to be cleaned out.  The Tasmanian she-devil is going back in her cage.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What wonderful insight! Thanks for sharing.