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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

When the Tireds Threaten



Most often they attacked on Friday, but sometimes Ginny noticed the tireds caught her earlier in the week. Whether the fatigue was physical, mental, or emotional, the effect was the same. As if a dense fog surrounded her, dulling her senses. Have you been there?

The assault was especially troublesome whenever negative circumstances overwhelmed her, like last year’s retreat fiasco. But this invasion was coming after the women’s group declared the annual event a blessed success. It didn’t seem possible that so much delight could bring the same result as a wretched disappointment.

Back then Ken, her pastor husband, told her to carry her sorrow and grief to the Lord, and he’d been right. God heard her cries and filled her with His peace and strength. She’d still be in that dark place if it weren’t for His tender care. But this round made no sense . . . until the study she was working on came to mind. Her feet dragged her to the dining room where her materials sat on the antique table.

The rush seat creaked as she dropped into the straight back chair. Her Bible was still turned to Luke 10, and as her eyes scanned verses 38-42, her imagination went to a New Testament village. A near-party atmosphere flowed from the account, and she sensed these women would have been thrilled to open their home to Jesus of Nazareth.

Ginny identified with Martha and pictured her as the busy hostess scurrying around to make everything as perfect as possible for such an important guest. It reminded her of all she’d poured into the retreat. And she remembered with chagrin that she had complained to Ken some of the committee members weren’t carrying their weight.

Her index finger followed the key words.

She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His Word. But Martha was distracted by all her preparations.*

Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part.**

Could it be that her contribution to and excitement over the successful weekend had drained her reserves? She pondered the possibility and had to admit all the effort and organization had distracted her from her daily habit of praise and worship. It was indeed possible that, like Martha, she’d lost sight of the only one thing necessary, to rest in her Savior’s presence.

A grin spread across her face for she knew exactly what to do. She flipped the pages to Isaiah 40 and read the verses God had embedded in her heart when He met her the previous year.*** Nothing is hidden from His eyes and He never succumbs to the tireds. When asked, He shares His strength with His children until they soar like eagles. Now she knew that meant in any situation, whether she was frowning or smiling.

How about you?

What route do you take when the tireds come after you?
*Luke 10:39-40, NASB unless otherwise noted
**Luke 10:42
***Isaiah 40:27-31


Brief Bio
Sandra Allen Lovelace is a continuing missionary, a pastor’s wife emeritus, and a homeschool pioneer. She’s an award-winning speaker and author, and a sought-after mentor. Sandra’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and her current manuscript is Wallflower Women: Ways We Get Stuck & How to Walk in Freedom. She enjoys hiking with a camera in her hand, best done on an international adventure. Sandra and her husband Curt are transitioning to South Carolina.

Get to know Sandra at her website, http://sandraallenlovelace.com/

You can also connect with Sandra on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Photo by Stacey Rozells on Unsplash

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

If Only Martha Could Have Ordered Delivery Pizza



I have always thought Mary’s sister, Martha, gets a bad rap in Christian circles. This is probably because I am much more like Martha than Mary. I’m a practical girl. You say, “Let’s take a trip!” I say, “Do we have enough gas to get there?” For many years, I wrestled with this aspect of my personality because everyone at church thought it was better to be a Mary than a Martha. Then I finally dug into the story of Jesus at Martha’s house (Luke 10:38-42), and I realized she was not wrong to fix those guys something to eat!

In Luke 10, we may be looking at the first time Jesus ever set foot in Martha’s home. She welcomed Him and his companions into her home (v. 38). They had been travelling and were most certainly hungry. Since they couldn’t order delivery pizza, it was necessary to prepare a meal.

The distinction may be subtle, but follow for a minute. Jesus, the disciples, and everyone else expected Martha to prepare something. Thing is, Martha got distracted by the preparations (v. 40).
Martha clearly had some pride issues because the preparations took every ounce of her energy and focus. She wanted to make German Chocolate Cake when boxed brownies would have been sufficient. But Martha’s motives may have been good. When I have someone special in my home, I want to give them the very best I have to offer—not for myself but as a way to honor that person.
All of us have walked that fine line between honoring our guests and wanting to be honored for our exceptional hospitality (or any other gift from Him). My kids ask why we clean the house before company comes over. There are days when it’s hard to answer honestly.

Jesus is so gracious to Martha when she complains (v.41). His words make me think He reached out to her, ignoring the dirty apron, the burn on one hand and the worn-out potholder on the other, the sweat dripping down her temple, and the frizz of hair escaping her headscarf. I think He stopped whatever deep and important conversation was developing (or whatever joke was being told, because we know Jesus liked to laugh!), waited until her eyes met his, and spoke into her heart: “We don’t need a lot, Martha....” I think there was gratitude in His tone—something which told Martha He appreciated her service and understood her situation.

I spent years trying to comprehend the “one thing” of which Jesus spoke next. He said, “Few things are needed—or indeed only one” (v. 42). Here’s what He meant: Mary chose to focus on Jesus. Martha chose to get distracted. The one thing needed was to prioritize Jesus.

I don’t think Jesus expected Martha to drop the potholder, wipe the sweat from her brow, ignore the burning rice, and sit down there with the others. We don’t know for sure because–frustratingly—the narrative stops there. We don’t even know how Martha responded. It seems more likely, however, she simply needed to adjust her mindset.  While Mary sat and worshiped, Martha would serve and worship. Both would then be operating within the will of God.

So, my fellow Christ-following Martha-types out there, there is nothing wrong with cooking dinner (or counting how many pizzas to order). There is certainly nothing wrong with hospitality, and there is nothing wrong with giving God our absolute best. We can go ahead and bake the German Chocolate Cake if we can do it without losing our focus on Him and His glory.

Are we distracted from knowing Him by serving Him? Are we more interested in what people will think than how God will be glorified? Get these things sorted out, and our service becomes an act of worship, which is what God intended when He created you and me.


Question for reflection: How have the Mary/Martha labels affected your service at church? How can you find freedom in living out exactly who God created you to be? We’d be honored if you would share your thoughts in the comments below.

Bio.

Intrigued by this brief study of Mary and Martha? Catch the longer version of this post on Carole Sparks’ blog. She has also written a four-week Bible Study about these siblings. Contact Carole for early access to Dwell: Mary, Martha & Lazarus before it’s available to the public. You can find her most days on Twitter, Facebook, and/or her blog.

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