Friday, May 3, 2013

Having Mary's Heart

There is a song I learned in my childhood that often runs through my mind.  Although I was growing up in Missouri, our church used a Sunday School curriculum from Australia, so we learned a lot of Bible songs that were a little different from many that other churches were using.  The one that probably sticks out the most is about Martha - the oh so busy sister of Mary and Lazarus.

It goes like this:
Don't be like Martha
Busy, busy Martha
She was too busy
to listen to Jesus
Busy, busy Martha

(To get the full effect, you have to imagine it in the cool Australian accent that still plays in my head as I remember it.)

Remember?  She was the sister in Luke 10 that was distracted by all the things that needed to be done when Jesus and his disciples visited her house.  While Martha was dashing around getting things done, she was watching with growing resentment as her sister Mary sat at Jesus' feet and listened.  Finally, she couldn't contain her frustration anymore and asked Jesus, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!" (vs. 40). 

Oh, Martha.  Sometimes I feel like we're kind of hard on her.  I think that's probably because my heart tends to be like hers.  I'm so like her, actually... keeping a running tally in my head of all that is on my to-do list, wishing I could sit and be still, but feeling like I need to get all of those things done before I can.  After all, as moms and missionary women, aren't there always:

- dishes to wash
- diapers to change
- floors to mop
- toilets to scrub
- meals to prepare
- laundry to sort, wash, hang to dry, fold, and put away
- vocabulary to study
- grammar concepts to learn
- documents to translate
- encouraging emails to write to faraway friends
- pictures to post for grandparents missing their grandkids
- crafts to plan for the next neighborhood play date
- ministry events to plan and prepare for
- neighbors and church members to invite over
- errands to run
- blog posts to write
- desserts to make for that week's Bible study
- etc.
- etc.
- etc.

And, sometimes - too often - that growing list becomes the loudest voice in my head.  It starts rattling around so loudly in there that I miss hearing the best, gentlest, most loving voice, the very voice I want to hear more than anything. 

""Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."" (vs. 41-42)

When I become like Martha and let that to-do list crowd out that gentle voice of my Savior, I'm missing what is most valuable.  I might miss Him saying to me, "Sarah, Sarah, why are you so busy?  Be still and know Me; know that I am God and learn from me.  Put me first, daughter; what greater thing do you have to invest in than your relationship with Me?"  If I become still and listen, I realize the better choice that Mary made and I want a heart like hers.  Yes, all of the things on the to-do list still need to be done, but wouldn't I rather do them with God's strength gained from focus on Him than with my own strength?  I don't want the list of things to get done to lead me away from Him, my first love.

So, I pray for myself, asking that God would give me a heart like Mary's, who longs for Him more than anything and who can focus on Him even in the midst of many things to do.  I don't want to be like Martha who was too busy to listen to Jesus.  I pray the same for you, my sisters around the world who are reading this.  May we rest in Him, sit at His feet and learn from Him, gain His strength, and carry out our tasks with the joy and strength that we receive from Him!  In that way, we will do what we long to do - grow in our relationship with Him and glorify Him in our lives.  What choice will we make today - focusing first on our must-be-done lists or on being quiet before our Savior?

Do you tend to be more a Mary or a Martha?  Does your to-do list ever distract you from being still before Jesus and listening to Him?  What helps you bring your focus back to Him?


  1. Oh, I tend to be more a Martha. I enjoy and love my morning times with God, but it's hard during the day sometimes to slow down for a minute. One thing that helps me is to take an occasional walk in the afternoon (when I have time!!!)

    The book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver is great encouragement on this topic.

    1. i've also read and loved that book! in fact, most of my books i pass on to others, but that is one i've kept. did you read the follow up about having a mary spirit? and i've recently seen one about lazarus as well.

    2. Those are both books on my to-read list. I actually thought about trying to read one of them before writing this post. Good to hear that they are well recommended!

  2. liz - this is one of those question that i've often pondered because i am, more naturally, one of those ones who is a mary. it isn't the time sitting at the feet of Jesus that is hard for me... or the ministries that require me to do so to do them well. rather it is all the meals for this family of 10 and their frequent visitor friends. it is laundry, dishes, etc. and the fact that they have to be done. so my struggle is that i'm a mary by default, but sometimes it is right to be that martha busy with serving, doing, caring... if that makes sense. it is hard for me to remember that God is also pleased when i spend time with Him... as i'm busy about serving my family... with a loving heart and attitude - not a compelled, backed-into-the-corner, have no other choice martyrship... if that makes sense.

    1. This is me, too, Richelle. This has become much more of a struggle for me since becoming a mom and a missionary than it was before, for the same reasons. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Great reminder today. Thank you.

    1. It's something I need to be reminded of it regularly! Thanks, Delana!