“But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”” (Luke 10:40 NIV)
I am Martha. I am busy. I am frustrated. I am overwhelmed. I have so much “on my plate” that something falls off. Something gets pushed to the “back burner”, then it boils over.
I love the story of Mary and Martha, because I can see it vividly. It looks a lot like my kitchen on a weeknight after working all day. Martha is frantically cleaning while she cooks. Her sink is full of dishes and she hasn’t washed the lettuce yet. While she’s emptying the sink, just enough so the colander will fit under the faucet, the pot on the stove boils over. Where is her sister? Why hasn’t she offered to help? And what is that sticky spot on the floor?
I love this story, because I find a kindred spirit in Martha. Martha is busy doing her best to serve the Lord. The scripture says, “the preparations that has to be made.” She is busy doing what she is “supposed” to do. She is busy doing what needs to be done.
When I heard this story as a child in Sunday School, I didn’t understand why no one was helping Martha. Yes, I know, Mary was listening to Jesus and he is the Great Teacher. But, everyone was going to be hungry in a few hours and there would be no food if Martha didn’t cook it! Couldn’t someone help her now and they could listen together later? If Martha sat down and listened, too, what would they eat?
But, none of the translations I have say that Martha was “busy”. Most often, it is translated that Martha was “distracted” by the preparations. The King James Version says that Martha was “cumbered”. I didn’t know what that meant, so I looked it up. Cumbered means hampered, hindered, or obstructed. Something was in her way. Something was blocking her. Something was taking her eyes off the true goal.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (Colossians 3:23 NIV)
The cooking and cleaning did need to be done. But, Martha let them become a distraction. Martha let the cooking and cleaning turn her heart away from her purpose. She let them make her bitter. She was serving, but not with a servant’s heart.
I am stomping around the kitchen, tripping on toys. I hear the sounds of videogames coming from the next room. I am reminded of Martha. “Lord, don’t you care? Tell them to help me!”
And He replies, “You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.” (Luke 10:41-42 NIV)
He is the one thing I need.
Stop by Misty’s blog, Simply Helping Him, to read this post.