Lord, do you not care?

IMG_1850"Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” The occasion for this question was a dinner party. Martha (not Martha Stewart, though they possess similar interest in being a good hostess) had invited Jesus and his disciples to stay at her home, fully expecting her sister to help her with the work. But Mary (her sister) was more interested in sitting with the men, listening to Jesus teach. The English Standard Version said of Martha, she was "distracted with much serving."

I relate to Martha way too well. I have the desire to be Mary, but if I were role playing, I would fit better into Martha's sandals. (These pics are two of my culinary attempts, though Martha might have been more likely to serve fish or stew.)

IMG_1866If Jesus and His disciples were passing through my village, and I had the privilege of hosting dinner for Him, you can bet I'd be busy cooking, cleaning, making sure the candles were lit, setting the table so it was just right, ridding the house of any unpleasant clutter or odor. And I wouldn't have started the day He arrived. I'd have been working hard at least a full week ahead. I would enlist my husband, and if this had occurred when my kids were small, them too. If you ask anyone in my family they can testify that I stress over normal company. I would stress big time if my guest was God.

But the other part of me, the Mary side, would have spent that time preparing my heart to meet Him. I would have pondered His past teachings as I went about my daily tasks. And when He arrived, I would sit near Him and soak up every word. I would ask questions, if the time allowed. I would have savored and treasured such a moment. I would have known He cared.

Martha, on the other hand was distracted and focused on putting on the best dinner party ever. All she could see was the work in front of her, and that no one was offering a hand to help her complete it.

"Lord, do you not care...?"

Martha's anxiety and distractedness took her focus off Jesus and put it on her service to Him. Why couldn't Mary and Martha have both listened as Jesus taught, and then served a simple meal together afterward? Martha could have treated the day like a Sabbath if she had known ahead of time He was coming. The stew and unleavened bread could have been kept warm and waiting.

Instead, Martha wanted to make the dinner party one of her finest, and she missed the whole point of Jesus' visit.

"Lord, do you not care?" And then in the next breath, she gave Jesus advice on how He could change the way she felt. "Tell her then to help me!"

I wonder how it must have felt to have Jesus meet her gaze and defend her sister. Mary's choice was good. Martha was over-anxious when she didn't need to be.

Martha's anxiety led to stress, which led to doubt. "Lord, do you not care...?"

How often in our day-to-day anxieties do we feel the same?