Are You a Mary-Killing Martha?
by Jennifer Slattery (reprinted with permission, June 21, 2012)
Most of us are familiar with the story of Mary and Martha. If asked, I suspect many would readily admit we have much more Martha in us than we’d like.
For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Martha and Mary were sisters in ancient Palestine. They were close friends with Jesus. More than friends–they adored Him. One day, Jesus came for a visit, and Martha went frantic. (Luke 10:38-42 NIV.) As would I.
Can you imagine the Creator of the universe stepping inside your kitchen? Drinking from your water-stained glasses? Or am I the only one with dusty furniture, buggy light fixtures, and cobwebs hanging in corners?
Like Martha, when I get on a cleaning-doing-rampage, I expect everyone to join me. For truly, how could anyone possibly sit while so much needs to be done? But in my dolling out tasks and responsibilities, I need to be careful I don’t rob my loved ones of God’s “better.”
It takes a lot of strength … patience … surrender, to sit at Jesus’ feet. We’ve all got to do lists, ambitions, and obligations that threaten to sap our time. Add in a frenzied Martha condemning our efforts, and how many of us can continue to abide?
It’s so hard to be a Mary in a Martha world! For us and our loved ones, which is why we need to be careful not to kill their Mary through over-scheduling.
Each day, I must ask myself–what am I training in my daughter? Am I cultivating an atmosphere that encourages divine-connections, where it’s okay to be a Mary? Do I actively adjust our schedule in order to leave time for God’s best? And what do I praise most, her commitment to Christ or her earthly achievements?
This is a hard one–especially when raising a teen. We want to teach responsibility, service, hard-work ethics. We want to expose our kids to the world. And there’s always so much that needs to be done! That can be done.
To find the balance, I believe we need to continually pare things back to the basics–training our child/encouraging our loved ones to know Christ and make Him known. If their lives, our families, center around that, everything else will fall into place.
This summer has been fairly easy for us. Our schedule leaves plenty of time for family discussions and Bible reading. My challenge will come this fall when sports, classes, and activities threaten to crowd out those family-bonding, spiritually-nurturing times. I pray, when our schedule balloons, God will provide a dose of Mary to balance my Martha, giving me the wisdom to differentiate the must-dos from the can-dos.
Moms and Grandmas, which woman do you relate to today? Are you a Martha, running around ragged, wishing others would help you? Or maybe you’re surrounded by a thousand want-tos–those blessings like amusement parks, sports teams, and gatherings with friends. Be careful your to-do and want-to-do lists don’t rob your children and grandchildren of their time with God.
Maybe you’re a Mary desperately needing time with Jesus, but the obligations of others weigh you down. Today I encourage you to close your ears to the voice of man and tune them instead to Jesus, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one” (Luke 10:41b-42a NIV).
And invite your kids to do the same. Each day show them what it means to abide.
Some things to try:
1. Read a Bible passage after dinner and, instead of teaching, invite each family member to share how God spoke to them through the passage.
2. Create a family quiet time with no tv, soft praise music playing, attractive journals for family members to write in.
3. Take your family on a prayer walk/hike.
Do you have any ideas to share? How have you encouraged your children to draw near to Christ? How have you modeled a vibrant, abiding faith? What are some ways you’ve tackled the schedule monster, and what were the results? What’s *one thing* you can and will do this week to foster an atmosphere of abiding?
Before you begin your busy day, pause to soak in, to rest in, Jesus words, spoken in John 15:4
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” (NLT)
Life’s tough. You can’t do it alone. Neither can our kids. Let’s teach them how to tap into and remain connected to their power source.
Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about ways to train up Marys in a Martha world.