The Good Part
I come from a long line of unconventional women. It's easy for me, sometimes, to get caught up in the familiarity of the Bible. Lately, I've been thinking about things differently. We are all "sons of Adam and daughters of Eve," to be sure, but if I am grafted into the tree of faith, I am also an honorary daughter of Abraham, and the mothers of my people are my mothers, too.
I know these stories well. I was blessed to grow up with Bible stories ringing in my ear. It's amazing how stories do not seem as strange to a child. I am reading them again, pondering them with new eyes.
Like Ruth, for instance. She is hardly the most likely candidate for the lineage of Jesus. She is foreign, growing up learning about some other god. Yet, she leaves her home, her people, her gods, and follows her mother-in-law (against her urging) to a place where she is mistrusted and must work grueling days to bring home food.
Have you ever wondered what would have happened to Naomi had Ruth not clung to her?
Naomi sat, bitter, grieving, angry with God, while Ruth gleaned. And yet, it was Naomi who is said to have a son at the end of the book. It is Naomi whose fortunes are restored. Naomi herself is redeemed by the Lord.
I cannot say how many things I've read, sermons I've heard, conversations I've been a part of, talking about Mary and Martha. In spite of all of this, I have never heard anyone mention something that I can't stop seeing.
I know that Mary is unconventional. She is sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to His every word.
But Martha, she comes up to Jesus and says: "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me."
I have read this story a million times and never caught this. She doesn't pull her brother aside, asking him to talk some sense into Mary. She doesn't pull Mary aside, asking her to stop avoiding her hostess duties.
She walks right up to Jesus. She speaks loudly enough for the whole room to hear. She asks Jesus if He cares.
And in front of everyone, our Lord responds. He doesn't say "I wish you were more like Mary" He doesn't say "When you read these words in the future, be sure that you are not like Martha."
He says: "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."
Can you just hear it? He says her name twice, I can almost hear the tenderness through the years and pages.
This is not a rebuke as I've always thought. This is my Lord reaching out to Martha, seeing her, knowing the worries of her heart, guiding her to the truth. Only one thing is necessary.
This is the same woman, after her brother's death, who went to meet Jesus when she heard that He was coming:
"Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” [John 11:20-27]
It seems to me that Martha has chosen the good part, as well.
There are countless women (and men) I'm finding in Scripture, whose stories are jumping out at me as if for the first time. The people of God do not do things the same way as the rest of the world. Not once He reveals Himself to them.
I want to follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before me, my mothers and fathers in the family of God, with whom I will spend eternity. I want to be loyal and obedient as Ruth was, I want to see God move without my help, the way Naomi did, I want to listen to Jesus like Mary, and I want to be unafraid to speak my mind and heart, and to confess my belief in Jesus as Christ, just as Martha did.
I want the good part.