“But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said,
“Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work?
Tell her to come and help me.”
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!
There is only one thing worth being concerned about.
Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:40-42 NLT)
I am totally a Martha–as in Martha, Lazarus’ sister, not Martha Stewart. It’s one of the things I most want to change about myself. My Martha-tendencies tend to flare up most at the holidays or in the busy summer months where there are lots of things to do and very little time to do them. I get so distracted by the little details of party planning and food preparation that I forget what, or whom, I’m doing the work for. I’m one of those, “Well, somebody has to do it!” kind of people. Then I get resentful when I’m stuck doing the work and don’t get to enjoy the party.
This reminds me of an Adventures in Odyssey episode about Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. This particular episode of the kids radio program covered the events in 1st century Bethany when Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus. Though it’s a fictionalized account, Martha’s frustration with preparing food for guests and disciples while her sister, Mary, sits at Jesus’ feet was very relatable.
There’s a line in the episode that says, “Doing things for Jesus isn’t the same as being with him.” The first time I heard that I was leveled. This is the heart of why I find hospitality hard sometimes—I’m good at checking off lists and setting the table, but I’m not as good at being still and enjoying the presence of my friends and family. And isn’t that the whole point of hospitality? It’s taken me a while to learn that people come to my house for ME, not to critique my bathroom or dinner menu.
If you haven’t read it already, pick up Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table by Shauna Niequist. It is a must-read for those who love to entertain or those who want to learn. Niequist helps remind us that the stress that comes with entertaining is often self-imposed. Perhaps the most resonant of Bread & Wine’s lessons is that, “What people are craving isn’t perfection. People aren’t longing to be impressed; they’re longing to feel like they’re home. If you create a space full of love…they’ll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest, no matter how small, no matter how undone, no matter how odd.”
So, who are you more like? Mary, who knew who Jesus was and put things in proper priority, or Martha, who couldn’t see Jesus amidst the bustle of daily life? Are we ever truly spending time with Jesus, or just working around him? Let’s all try to not only prepare our hearts and homes, but also find time to spend time each day with Jesus.
Insight and inspiration:
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”
Pray as you cook, pray as you set the table, pray as you eat and as you clean up. Be thankful for the opportunity to gather around the table; be thankful for the perfect imperfections.