Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mary and Martha

Artist: Minerva Teickert
Every time I turn on my computer, this beautiful painting of Mary, Martha and Jesus appears on the screen. This image serves as a daily reminder of who I want to be and the choices I want to make. 

I love how Martha is busy working while turned towards the Savior and how Mary is focused on Christ but still nearby to help her sister. In a world full of responsibilities and options, I appreciate what their story teaches us about balance in our lives.

Mary and Martha lived in Bethany, a small village about two miles from Jerusalem. They and their brother Lazarus were good friends of Jesus and often received Him in their home. On one occasion, Jesus arrived and Martha immediately busied herself with preparations for her guest. The scriptures tell us that Martha “was cumbered about much serving.” Mary on the other hand sat at the Savior’s feet, earnestly listening to His teachings. No doubt, Martha would have liked to have sat too but chose to express her love for the Savior by serving Him instead. 

I imagine Martha trying to do everything herself. Setting the table, chopping the herbs, stirring the stew, how could she get it all done and was it fair? She wanted everything to be perfect for Jesus but instead of achieving her goal she made everyone uncomfortable by lashing out in frustration “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me.”

This must have been an awkward moment for Mary who may have helped in the beginning but was now captivated by Jesus. Tenderly, the Master replied, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: “But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

I don’t believe that the Lord was unsympathetic to Martha’s cause or dismissed the value of her service. I just think He was trying to get her to focus on what mattered most, the “good part”. He was there to tell them the “Good News” and she was missing it, His words, His teachings, His spirit, because of the STUFF that she had to do!

Like Mary, I want to sit and learn at the Savior’s feet, while like Martha, I need to figure out what’s for dinner. I don’t have lots of time. Like these two wonderful sisters, I have to choose between the spiritual and the temporal. To discern God's will in my life so that I can follow the Savior into the next.

In a world filled with distractions, the story of Mary and Martha can help us set our lives in order. Martha was anxious with preparing the meal. Martha was not a bad person. She was not involved in wicked or sinful activities. She was a good woman, and her only desire was to serve and please the Lord. But she got her priorities out of whack. Mary on the other hand had chosen the spiritual. She had made the better choice. She had chosen to listen to the words of Jesus – the spiritual bread which leads to eternal life which could never be taken away from her. 

I believe that the Lord wants us to be anxiously engaged in good causes and is happy when we are industrious but at the same time we cannot let these activities become more important than our spiritual growth. We cannot let the temporal things of this world rob us of the eternal blessings that await us.

When I was a child, I watched the “Jetsons” cartoon show. I dreamed of a world of technology and robots like “Rosey” who would do all of my work for me. However, now that I have a personal computer, cell phone, fax machine, and a fast moving vehicle, my life is busier than ever. In fact busyness threatens to take over my life. I know that if I am to be more like Mary, I must spend time with the Lord each day in prayer, scripture study and obey His command, "Be still, and know that I am God". (Psalm 46:10) 

Somewhere between Mary and Martha I am striving to find me, a productive person, serving others, but most of all, obeying the Lord's will. I have a testimony that if we take the time to sit at the Savior's feet each day, we will find peace and direction. The word of God and the power of His spirit will teach us how to balance our chaotic lives and be truly happy. Most importantly, we will choose the Good Part, which shall never be taken away. 


Marilee said...

So beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Lisa Marie said...

Love this post!