Busyness. We are officially in “that” time of year ~ the holiday season. If we thought our lives were busy before, well, welcome to the warp speed world of weariness! So I decided that, to really get things started, I would give a talk to two different groups of young mothers the week before Thanksgiving…a month after getting back from our daughter’s out of state wedding…a month spent getting caught up with work that pays bills. Well, it sounded like a good idea at the time. Busyness.
The topic of my talk is taming the inner control freak, a special edition for the holidays. Sometimes I think busyness and the need for control go hand in hand ~ certainly being a control freak adds to the busyness of life. I believe it is a struggle common to many women. So I have been meditating on what I should share in my talk and one story from God’s word came to mind.
Maybe you have heard about this tale of two women. It is certainly a favorite, an oft-told account of two sisters, one caught in the world of busyness. We are told that there was going to be a dinner party and a very important guest was expected ~ Jesus. Jesus was a friend of our two sisters, Martha and Mary and their brother Lazarus. I am pretty sure that our present-day Martha Stewart was named after Martha, friend of Jesus. So, imagine that you are expecting Jesus to come to your house for dinner. Think you might be a little busy?
We see Martha in the kitchen getting everything ready. Her guests are in the living room laying around the table (they laid around the table in those days) and just enjoying each other’s company.
“Do you guys want any more lamb? Jesus? Lazarus? Anyone? No, okay.” And off she would go to the kitchen.
“How about some tea? Can I get you guys a cup? Would you like milk and sugar in yours, Lazarus? Okay, be right back.”
“Here, let me clean those crumbs away from the table. I don’t want you getting your robe dirty. No, no problem. Don’t mind me.” And back to the kitchen. Busy, busy, busy.
And where is her sister while she is running back and forth making sure that everything is just perfect? Where is that little Mary anyway? Martha peeks through the pass through door from the kitchen to the living room and sees Mary just lying there at the feet of Jesus. Just lying there while she is making herself crazy trying to make sure that everything is perfect for their guests.
“Pssst,” Martha motions from the kitchen. Nothing. No response.
“PSSST,” a little louder.
Okay, that’s it, she thinks.
“Jesus, you know I love you and everything. But I am slaving away here in the kitchen trying to make everything nice for our little get together and Mary isn’t doing a thing to help me. Would you please tell her to get up off her little fanny and give me a hand?”
“Martha, Martha, Martha…” (I know, you thought that phrase came from that old 70’s show, The Brady Bunch, but I think they took it from God.)
“Martha, look at you. You are frazzled trying to make everything perfect. You are so busy with all these earthly details that you are missing out on the joy I have for you. It’s not that I don’t appreciate what you are doing. And you KNOW how much I love you. I made sure to make a mention of that in my scriptures. But Martha, Mary is right where I want her. It’s right where I want you, too. Come here. Sit down. Take a break. You will never find joy in me if you don’t spend some time with me.”
Alright, I admit this is not a direct translation. I took a few liberties, but this is how I imagine it went down at the time. Read the Gospel of Luke, chapter 10 verses 38 through 42 and see what you think. I don’t know about you, but I can relate to Martha. There is a lot to do. There are expectations to be met. People to please. Hey, let’s be honest, people to impress.
Of course we can’t just recline at the table all day. Things do need to be done in order to have memorable holidays. But how much really needs to be done and at what expense?
Thanksgiving is around the corner with Christmas not far behind. Chances are you will be having guests to your home, maybe for dinner, maybe for coffee and dessert, maybe for a gift exchange. Expectations will be set, your calendar will fill up, and life will get busy. Perhaps for you, like me, the busyness has already begun. We may hear Joy to the World over the radio in the car as we race from one errand to the next. There’s a chance we may roll our eyes, sigh, and think, “JOY? Yeah right! If only!” Friends, I hope that in spite of the busyness, the noise, the rush, that we will hear God’s spirit speak to us.
I pray that we will hear Jesus say to us, “Lynne, Lynne, Lynne (insert your own name here) …you are so frazzled trying to make everything perfect. It’s not that I don’t appreciate all that you are trying to do and you KNOW how much I love you, just look at the scars on my wrists. But you are so busy with all these earthly details that you are missing out on the joy I have for you. Come here. Sit down. Take a break. You will never find joy in me if you don’t spend some time with me.”
“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.” Psalm 27:4