Worried and Perplexed: More Thoughts on Martha

worriedandperplexed I read another exploration of the story of Mary and Martha between writing The Good Part and now. It was, as I've come to expect, about how the Lord was telling Martha to be like Mary, to stop and sit at His feet and listen.

As I read, I kept wanting to stand up for Martha. For some reason, this story will not let go of me, and I'm learning to lean into these things, a little at a time.

I keep thinking about Jesus' words: "only one thing is necessary." The more time I spend sitting here, a fly on the wall in Bethany, the more I don't think that this passage is about busyness.

Were it not for Mary, sitting at Jesus' feet, it might seem easier to relate to Martha. After all, she is putting together a meal for those she loves and preparing to serve it to them. Not only is this a good thing, but it is something considered honorable in scripture.

Even now, in our fast-paced, hectic world, we are returning to the life-giving idea of joining around a meal, inviting people into our homes and showing them love with food, prepared with them in mind.

It is not this which concerns Jesus. Unlike me, Jesus is comfortable being served as well as serving. There are other instances where women serve Him, there are even other instances where Martha serves Him, and He doesn't say a word.

Why now?

"Martha, Martha, you are worried and perplexed about many things." Jesus, who sees hearts and minds, knows exactly what is going on inside Martha. To me, this sounds much deeper than food getting on the table. This is about relationships, about insecurity, about trying to do it all by herself. Listen to these words, Martha's words: "Lord, don't you care?"

It is easy to want the take-away of this story to be about what Mary and Martha are doing. But that isn't the way Jesus is speaking to Martha, and it certainly isn't what is on Martha's mind. Don't you care?

I go to the Lord this way sometimes. Usually, it's not really about what I'm saying it's about, usually, it's about something missing from me.


Only one thing is necessary.

Jesus offers Martha the same invitation He offers every one of us. "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."

It is only when I know that if God remains and all else crumbles, all will still be well, that I am in any place to give. It is only when I have drunk deep of the living water, after which I need never be thirsty again, that I can serve up cups of cool water to my neighbors.

In the upside-down economy of God, it is only when I acknowledge that only one thing is necessary that I will be fully able to enjoy the gifts that God has given me. It is only in being filled with Jesus that true hospitality, His hospitality—literally, a gift of the Holy Spirit—can be poured out, dramatic and transformative as any other way that the Spirit moves.

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