38-40As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”
41-42The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” Luke 10:38-42 The Message
This passage is so commonly referred to; many books and sermons have been written using the comparison of these two sisters. When it all comes down to it, both were loved by Jesus and both had much to learn from Him. One just realized that it’s easier to learn when you are sitting at His feet rather than running around on yours.
As I was pondering these verses in the context of service this week, I was asking God to show me how Mary was serving. Martha was serving a lot that day, but Mary had found the better way…what was it? Was she still serving her Master? How does one serve by sitting and listening? My oldest might have told me…
“Mom, can we play Monopoly after you lay Hannah down?”“Well, actually Christopher, we need to do some school first and then if we have time we can play.”“I knew you’d say that…”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” NIV
Sometimes serving is not a service. Sometimes we bow down, we get down, or we sit down…and we serve. Serving is doing – yes – but more than the doing it is the just being. Mary had that one moment to show her love to her Jesus; she knew not if there would be another time. She could have given Him plates and cups and seconds; instead, she gave Him her attention…her presence. She served Him by being with Him. She wasn’t satisfied with glimpses from the kitchen or the laundry room. She didn’t want to just say a quick hello, give a short answer, or make sporadic appearances to assure Him that she loved Him. Mary gave Him all of her for the fleeting, precious moment before her.
I remember having a special friend over one time. We finished up dinner and I stacked the dishes in the sink. A mess lay before me as I turned around and asked, “Would it offend you if I left this and sat to visit with you?” Her answer…”I would prefer it actually.”
There are many moments in life when it will be required that I do something with my hands and feet, but God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs (Matthew 5:3 NLT). There are precious and fleeting moments before me every day. When he comes up behind me and wraps his arms around me while I’m washing off the counter…stop, turn around, and return the gift. When they want me to spend 15 minutes playing a game before we start school…stop, refocus, and get out the game board. When she is struggling to keep the pain and tears in and she catches your eye when you’re getting ready to pass her by…stop, look deep into her face, and listen. When He has given you a moment of quiet and you’re about to do another chore…stop, bend the knees, and sit before your Master.