Sometimes, friends who come through our door are just hungry. Sometimes, they come tired and heavy laden, hungry with needs that we cannot possibly fill. So, the least we can do is to fill their stomachs. As an added bonus, I love cooking and watching people eat my food. Don't worry, when you come over, I promise not to stare at you (too much).
I have been thinking about the story of Mary and Martha, and I am perplexed. Once upon a time in a land before children, I assumed that I understood the story. I (wrongly) thought that I was more like Mary (ha!). Martha was running around, busy cooking and cleaning after everyone, while Mary worshiped. She sat and listened at Jesus' feet. Silly Martha, Mary clearly chose the better option.
Now that I am a wife and mother of three rambunctious boys, cooking and cleaning — these are my acts of worship. Keeping people from starving and stinking is my act of obedience. Worship and work are not opposites; they are not mutually exclusive. And on better days, I would even say that working and serving others brings me peace beyond my own understanding.
So, what then is the purpose of this story?
Here are two ways where I went wrong: First, Jesus was speaking to Martha. In order to understand, I need to step down from my self-righteous throne, and hear Jesus' words as a Martha. Second, I was focused on what the two women were doing (sitting vs. working), but Jesus was looking at their hearts.
Jesus is always looking at our hearts.
I am in a predicament. The Teacher is at my house. There is so much to do! What would be a fitting meal? What could I possibly offer the one who fed 5,000 men (not including women and children) with a child's lunch, calmed a storm, and raised people from the dead? I want him to be pleased with me, to enjoy his stay, to know that I believe.
What should I serve? Bread, definitely. Would he prefer fish or meat? Meat, probably. In that case, I need to run to the market. And we need more wine, just in case. But I need to heat up the oven. And...
Suddenly, his voice speaks into the chaos of my heart, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
I see, Lord.
I see now who Mary sees.
I was troubled and anxious,
I wanted to win you — to me, to love me.
But I already have you.
You are here, in my house.
I do not need to work to get your attention, your pleasure.
I can work because I have you.
You are the one necessary person.
You are the one person I need.
And you are here.
You will not be taken away from me.
I thought I could feed you,
but you came to feed me.