Friday, March 21, 2014

Hello, My Name is Amy and I Used to be a Martha

Most women in this region know what someone means when she refers to herself as a Martha. They don't assume she's talking about Martha Stewart. They know she speaks of Jesus' good friend, the sister of Lazarus and Mary.

Martha was one who was always working, keeping busy about the business of running an efficient home, especially when Jesus came to call. Her first inclination was to serve and make sure everything was just right, even to the extreme of choosing to work rather than taking the time to listen to Jesus, as her sister Mary had done. And one day, in exasperation and probably fatigue she complained to Jesus telling Him to command Mary to help. But Jesus told Martha that Mary had made the better choice.

Most of us women have a bit of sympathy for Martha, because we know very well how much work there is in running a home efficiently. And for Mary to sit down leisurely to listen to Jesus while her sister worked seems a little on the...well, you know...the lazy side. If you're a woman, you're probably nodding your head. Often times in Christian circles it can be a badge of honor to be noted as a "Martha", because it means that our efforts have not gone unnoticed.

I must confess, I have always identified as a Martha. Those of you who know me, know that in the past I have taken great delight in having a huge garden and a clean home and farm that are run well. In our home we make just about everything we can make from scratch. We didn't start out this way, it just happened as our family grew and our food budget didn't. At the same time, we learned to do most things ourselves, because our budget couldn't support hiring extra help. Through all these years, God has watched our labor and blessed our efforts, providing the support and finances as we've needed. And through it all, I've been a Martha. And I've been raising good little Martha's right along behind me.

But many of you know, something in my life has changed. Difficulty with my back has brought a total change of pace.  And I will admit it has brought with it some depression and sorrow. Where at one time I found my worth in my accomplishments and strength to get things done and done for the least amount of money, now, I have been forced to do things differently.

Who am I? What am I here for? What am I good for? These questions plague my mind daily...almost moment by moment. Having all my life been used to being strong, fast, flexible and hard working, I am now none of those things. Paul calls me his princess. My hands have no callouses, save for those that come from playing the guitar. My arms have lost a lot of strength and I am often times unable to even bend over and pick up a dirty sock off the floor, or put clean socks on my own feet. These things are often to much for me. And I find myself wondering why God doesn't just heal me so I can be useful again, and do the things I love. But He has shown me that my Martha ways, though I loved them, are not what He wants from me. He wants me to be a Mary. And He has allowed for pain and affliction to drive me to the end of my Martha self.

I've had to work out some of these things in my own mind. And I've also had to own for myself God's words to the apostle Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."

These things have been hard for me. But I've learned what Mary knew all along. That sitting in quietness and rest and being still before The Lord, is truly a privilege. I was too busy, trying to work hard and live an exemplary life to take the time to be with Jesus for long whiles before. It was just expected that He would come with me as I accomplished my goals. And while He knows I've lived my life and done my work heartily as for The Lord rather than for men, as scripture commands, He also knew that I was missing the point. Life isn't about my's about Him. And nothing I can do in all of life is better than being with him, listening intently, forgetting about all the to do's and instead rejoicing in His grace which is sufficient for me.

He said His power is made perfect in weakness. I don't yet see my weakness being used for anything except my breaking...but I will wait, and hope. And I will give up my Martha badge to become a Mary if it means I will bring Him more praise.

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