When We Can’t Be Mary by Lisa Burkhardt Worley

I’m a Martha who has to be intentional about being more like Mary, but I’m not always successful.

Many of us know the story about the two sisters, found in Luke 10:38–42. Jesus came to visit the them and Martha became irritated when Mary didn’t lift a finger to help her get dinner ready. (Have we ever had that happen in our own homes?) Instead, Mary was sedentary at Jesus’s feet, mesmerized by every word He had to say. Martha then vented to Jesus about Mary’s lack of labor, but the Savior rebuked her gently: “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”

As I face a podcast interview today, television tapings this week, a mini-women’s conference in Pakistan on Saturday morning and a Hebrew mid-term on Monday, the Martha in me is difficult to suppress. While worshipping this morning, the week’s schedule interrupted my devotion, and I struggled to not think about how to manage my time. While reading the Word, I prayed simultaneously Show me what to blog about today, LORD. And, of course, one of my studies today was about Mary and Martha. God has a sense of humor.

But for those of us Martha-types reading today’s blog, I think we need to give ourselves a break. It’s our nature, and it takes Martha’s to handle the details of life. Didn’t God say to the prophet Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” That’s a word for us as well. The LORD formed us as well in our mother’s womb, and created every intricate chain of DNA that was characteristic of a Martha personality.

It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t spend time in full-hearted worship and immersion in G-d’s word. There are many times, more than not these days, when Mary tendencies prevail in my life. I love basking in the presence of Jesus, as she did. But if there is work to be done, like this week, I think Jesus understands. Mary chose the better thing. He never said what Martha did was wrong.

So today, Martha’s, it’s okay. I’m not going to suggest we all go to “Martha’s Anonymous” but when we can, let’s ask God to help us to withdraw mentally from the to-do list and give Jesus our full attention. It can be done, but I’m sure Jesus gives us grace when we just can’t escape the planning.

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