Have you ever tried visualizing yourself as one of the characters in a Bible story?
Luke 10 tells us about two sisters, Mary and Martha, and I can easily walk in Martha’s shoes—so enough introduction. Here’s the story with yours truly standing in for Martha.
Jesus and his 12 disciples are coming, so I’ve been cleaning and cooking for days. When they show up, I’ll be ready—with a checklist of things to do while they are here so that they feel welcome and comfortable in my home.
Once they arrived, I’m in the run 24-7, and Mary does nothing. I mentioned that if she would just help a little, maybe I could spend a little time more listening to what Jesus has to say, but she just smiled and says, “No, you wouldn’t.”
Later, when Jesus visited me in the kitchen and stuck his finger in the bowl, I handed him the spoon to lick and laughed at the sweet batter stuck to his mustache. He told me “I’m saving that for later.”
So, I felt comfortable complaining about Mary’s lack of help. “See what she’s doing or, rather, what she’s not doing?” I told him. “All the work falls on me, so I can’t find the time to even enjoy my guests.”
Jesus spoke quietly, “Dear Martha, I love it here at your house. I am always well fed and my every need is met—you are a wonderful hostess.”
Blushing with pleasure, I turn to stir the pot over the fire, but Jesus had more to say. “Martha, stop a minute and give me your full attention.”
I glanced at him and begin chopping up some greens to add to the stew. “I’m listening.”
He said my name again. “Martha.” When I looked at him, he took the knife from my hands and held them still. “Martha. What you are doing is good, but Mary has made the better choice.” He kisses me on each cheek and gives me a hug before going back to his disciples and Mary.
The greens are chopped into tiny bits before I realize I’m not only mad at Mary I’m jealous, too. He thinks she’s better. Isn’t that what he said?
“They’ll need more wine,” I thought walked into the courtyard with a full pitcher. But Jesus is talking, I didn’t want to interrupt, and I remembered what he had said to me: “Mary has chosen the better thing.” She’s not the better thing. She chose the better thing. What has she chosen? She’s listening to his voice.
I get it. I set the pitcher down, find a spot to sit, and get lost in Jesus’ words. Supper was late that day. No one cared.
~ ~ ~
I’m still Martha, and I still have my to-do list, but the change I’m striving to make is to choose the better thing—to listen to Jesus voice. It’s somewhere in my top ten priorities for each day.
Jesus still visits often. And I still spend days cooking and cleaning in preparation. I still have my to-do list—he designed me to be Martha, after all, not Mary. But I can be Martha who chooses the better thing.
So I won’t make him come to the kitchen anymore to get my attention. I’ll go sit at his feet and listen to what he has to say today and every day.