Having A Mary Heart in a Martha Season

by Impact Church

I heard the gleeful laughter as it traveled from its place of origin in the bedroom where my husband neighed, quacked, and barked much to our children’s delight; I was standing in the kitchen washing dishes, alone. As they continued to play I wiped off counters, swept the floor, straightened the slightly off center candle and re-fluffed pillows for the fifteenth time; I would join them once finished. Not wanting to miss another moment I quickly scanned the room one last time to see if anything else needed my immediate attention. It did. Upon completion of this task it was bedtime; I had missed my opportunity to be a part of the laughter.

John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” If the enemy cannot steal, kill, or destroy he’ll distract. Often our drive for perfection is an attempt of the enemy to do just that. When we are distracted we become inattentive to important things that deserve our consideration. Take the account of Martha and Mary in Luke 10 for example; it resonates with me due largely to a photograph of myself that likely appears next to her most known characteristic- distracted. Martha found herself distracted by her drive for perfection and it threatened to rob her of probably the single most significant moment of her life. She loved Jesus so when He came to her house to visit she wanted to be the perfect hostess. Who could fault her? It was Jesus after all! Her sister Mary didn’t equally share her zeal for cleanliness and the perfect home cooked meal. Mary chose instead to sit still at His feet and be with Him while Martha scurried around working for Him. Jesus said that Mary made the better choice.

What about us? What do we choose? Do we allow the enemy to distract us to such a degree that we forget that God is Emmanuel, God with us? Are we experiencing the unbridled joy that being with Him affords?

Psalm 16:11 says, “In your presence is fullness of joy.” Joy is what we receive in God’s presence; that’s something we just can’t afford to miss. Joy is not an emotion because emotions waver depending on circumstance. Insert Martha. Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed-or indeed only one.” (Luke 10:41) Mary wasn’t helping Martha with her busy work and that sent her into an emotional spiral. But the joy we are meant to experience daily as believers is a sweet contentment in the soul produced by the Holy Spirit. It’s a result of knowing God and abiding in Him. When Jesus was born, the angels proclaimed “good tidings of great joy.” (Luke 2:10) Still today, all who find Jesus know what the shepherds knew that miraculous night- Jesus brings us great joy. Since the origin of our joy is supernatural it remains present in all the ebbs and flows of our life. Joy is available to us on mountaintops and valleys alike because Jesus himself never leaves us. As we abide in Him we grow in the awareness of His presence and the fullness of joy he promised. Nehemiah 8:10 says that “the joy of the Lord is our strength.”

The joy of knowing Him is our strength. It’s not in the house being spotless, our to-do list being checked off, all of our affairs being in order, or even in serving. Philippians 3:8 (AMP) says, “But more than that, I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him- a joy unequaled].” Christmas is upon us and our culture tells us that everything must be perfect. Our decorations, gifts, home, food, family gatherings, and attire must be as free as possible from all flaws. Anything less is unacceptable. My prayer is that we would experience freedom from the tyrant of perfectionism this holiday season. Let the centerpiece be out of place. Leave the dishes in the sink. Sweep the floor later. Allow the kids to touch the Christmas ornaments and when they dump their toys on the floor don’t rush to pick them up. Let life be imperfect. This is your permission slip to sit instead of scurry.

As believers we are hosting the very presence of God. He is here with us. Let’s allow nothing to distract us from that beautiful truth. May each of us have a Mary heart in a Martha season. Remember it’s more important that we are present than perfect. Wishing you each the most joyful Christmas season yet-full of His presence and overflowing with His joy.