Spilling out and Flowing Over {Mary, Martha, and a Raw, Honest Struggle}

"Are you a Martha? Or are you a Mary?"

Anyone who has grown up in church has heard that question posed more than once. Dozens of times, perhaps. We all know the lesson: Martha was busy doing, while her sister Mary sat listening to the Lord. Martha asked Jesus to tell Mary to get up and help...after all, there was company and work to be done! Jesus, however, rebukes Martha ever-so-gently, telling her that Mary has chosen the better thing.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~Hebrews 4:12

The older I get, the more I love this verse. I seem to see it in action more and more as God causes certain things to jump out at me that I never noticed before...or they take on new meaning or import because of where I happen to be at the time.  Even though it's a bit painful at times, it thrills my heart when He *zings* me with something fresh and new...even if it isn't actually fresh and new!

That happened Sunday morning as Bro. Gary was preaching from John about Mary and Martha.  I've heard that story a million times (well, maybe not quite a million...I'd have to calculate an estimated number of times per year multiplied by my forty-something age to get a bit more accurate figure, but a whole bunch for sure!) over the years, but Sunday morning it *zinged* in a whole new way!

I struggle sometimes with some of the choices we've made regarding the children's "schooling" (and some of the things that haven't really been a "choice", but rather just survival).  We aren't doing organized sports, lessons of various kinds, or group extra-curricular activities.  We haven't even done co-op the past few years, although hopefully that will happen again in another season. 

We have nothing against any of those things.  In fact, there are some we'd love to participate in, if circumstances were different. But...they aren't, and it's been obvious that those things aren't part of God's plan for our family right now.

Most of the time I'm good with that.  My goal for this season is for us to all learn contentment, to stretch our creative muscles in other ways, to make a priority of family and church activities, to have a calmer, more peaceful schedule than we'd have if we had kids in lessons here and on sports teams there.  

Calmer? More peaceful? Did I really say that?  I guess it's all relative. :-D  Bro. Gary actually used our family as an example of a "busy family" Sunday morning. I got a little tickled, because I know that we are {relatively} busy, and we are certainly perceived by many as being busy...and yet, we are probably one of the least busy families I know!  (There are weeks...not often, but sometimes...when I don't go anywhere but church on Sunday and the grocery store...and I LOVE those weeks!)

I mentioned above that my goals for this season include contentment, developing creativity, making a priority of family time and church activities, and just in general living a calmer, more peaceful lifestyle than we would if we were running many more places during the week.  I have visions of our lives being fuller and richer because we have "margin" and "simplicity" and "peace"...all those words we see idealized in the lives of others online. 

And yet, it's easy for the real picture to include a frazzled, never-caught-up mom, squabbling children, and a husband who comes home from work to chaos and mayhem. Having more freedom from outside commitments doesn't automatically translate into a calmer, more peaceful life.  It's easy to fall into the trap of feeling like we have "more time" and then frittering it away instead of using it purposefully for that rich, full life we envision.

As Bro. Gary said Sunday morning, there is very definitely a need for servants, for the "do-ers" in our churches.  I would say there is also very definitely that need in our homes.  As wives and moms, we have a great responsibility to cheerfully and diligently "do" in a variety of ways.

However, in order to serve and do effectively, the "doing" cannot be our priority.  Before we can "do" anything for our families, for our churches, for the world around us, for the Lord, we must first follow the example of Mary, "who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said."  (Luke 10:39)

Bro. Gary pointed out that Martha was distracted by her busyness and serving. Again, serving is not a bad thing...unless it is a distraction from the best of sitting at Jesus's feet. 

Distractions fill our lives.  Some of those distractions are good things, in their place. When they distract us from sitting at His feet, though, they become dangerous. We get caught up in them and begin to think that we can "do it" (whatever "it" is) on our own. Distractions cause us to lose sight of the fact that we are totally dependent on Him in every way. 

As Bro. Gary said Sunday, 

Sometimes even the church/serving gets in our way.
Sometimes doing what seems to be right gets in our way.

Ouch!  So many things "get in our way" of sitting at Jesus's feet. Homeschooling can get in the way. Serving our families can get in the way. The perfect schedule, or our "plan" for the perfect homeschool experience, or our need to  have "perfect children" can get in the way. Church activities, fellowship with friends, and helping others can get in the way. Our own laziness, lack of discipline, and leisure activities can get in the way. (Ouch, ouch, and ouch.)

Through Bro. Gary's sermon Sunday morning and the pondering I've done on it since, three things have stuck out to me:

1. My first priority must be sitting at Jesus's feet.  I need to start my day with Him, end my day with Him, and seek Him first throughout the day.  Anything and everything else I do is worthless (as filthy rags) without that. Sitting at the Lord's feet, listening to what He says is vital to anything and everything else I do.

2. Having limited outside commitments doesn't mean we are free of distractions. We (I!) must be intentional in sitting at Jesus's feet and then using our time and resources wisely to do whatever He has called us to do. We must guard against the deception of thinking that having less commitments automatically means less distractions. 

3. Serving and doing are not bad things. Outside commitments are not bad things. Sports and lessons and extra-curricular activities are not bad things. God has called us to serve. He has called us to do.  But we must make sure our serving and doing flow from our time spent at His feet, rather than crowding it out.

This post began composing itself in my head during church Sunday, but it's taken me three days to actually sit down and finish it. It's a hard post for me, because it isn't something God "has taught" me, but something that right now He is daily working on in me.  It's a right now struggle.  I'm way too easily distracted. 

I'm in the midst of a "Hello Mornings" challenge right now...an accountability/Bible Study group in which we've committed to get up early in the morning and spend the first part of our day sitting at Jesus's feet.  We're 3 days into this session and I've already completely flaked one day. Really?  The second day in and I completely bombed? 

But God's grace and mercy abound and overwhelm. Today was better than yesterday, and I am praying tomorrow will be better than today. Often posting things here, where others are reading, is an accountability all in itself. So I open myself to you, and give it to you honestly and with a bit of rawness. This is hard. Satan offers distraction. The world offers distraction. The flesh that wars within me offers distraction. And I am all too easily distracted.

And yet...I want to sit at His feet. I want to soak in all He has for me.  I want to listen, and then out of my listening I want the doing to spill out.  I want the all the richness and beauty that is possible in this season in which God has our family.  I want my children to see all of that and want it themselves.  I want to be prepared for the busier seasons that will most likely come. 

I want to be Mary. 

Are you with me?  

Are you already there?  Do you have wisdom and encouragement for those of us who aren't yet?  Please share in the comments, or email me through the link in the sidebar.

Are you in the midst of the struggle? Wanting to put the distractions in their place, to let the doing flow out from the time sitting at His feet, rather than letting it crowd that time out?  I'd love to pray with you, or just share together in the journey.  Leave me a comment, or shoot me a message, please? 

Are you reading this and maybe not sure what it's even all about?  Before you can sit at Jesus's feet as His disciple, you must come to Him as your Savior and your Lord.  I'd love for you to message me if you have questions about that.  You can also find out more here.


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