A friend and I are currently reading the book Falling in Love with Jesus (by Dee Brestin and Kathy Troccoli). In one chapter, the authors look at Mary of Bethany's love for Jesus. They also contrast Mary's communion with Jesus against Martha's actions for Jesus. Here's an excerpt:
"Usually artists depict this scene with all of the disciples in the room along with Mary, seated around Jesus,a and poor Martha alone at the door of the kitchen... Fixing lunch for 13 men is not a one-woman job. But notice the pronouns in Luke 10:38 carefully: 'As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.' Is it possible that Jesus was alone?... Charles Swindoll puts it like this: 'Martha, Martha - chips and dip would be fine!' In The Sacred Romance, the authors claim that too often, 'communion with God is replaced by activity for God.' That is exactly what we see with Martha."
How often have I replaced communion with God with activity for God. Is activity for God bad? Nope! Definitely not. These authors go on to write that "It isn't that Jesus doesn't value good deed.s He knows that good deeds will naturally flow out of communion with Him." (After all, in James 2:20, we read that "faith without works is dead.) However, "communion will not necessarily flow out of good deeds. There are a host of Christians who are busy with church activity, or just plain busy. They claim to love Jesus, but their time with Him, their aloneness with Him... has all but disappeared." (Brestin)
This convicting passage left me asking myself, has my aloneness with him disappeared? I have CERTAINLY been guilty of this. In fact, at one point, my busyness in college (largely due to over involvement in a campus ministry) was so stressful, I got shingles. Shingles! As the doctor put it, only old people and stressed out people get shingles. At that point, I was probably sleeping 4-5 hours a night and drinking 4-5 cups of coffee minimum per day. Let's just say, I had to eliminate some activity. That was the beginning of a long lesson on busyness. Too busy. I was too busy. I used to think I had some sort of obligation to fulfill to all these people and activities and ministries and... the list could go on. The truth is, busyness helped me feel important. Think about it. Have you been there, or am I alone in this one? Why do people seem to always complain about their busyness? Why is it such a big deal that everyone is so busy? If I'm busy with stuff, I must be important. God taught me to slow down and find my worth in Him. He taught me how to watch for opportunities to serve him that HE brought about. He taught me how to reach out to people, yet preserve time to be alone. A huge part of this was simply not being on the phone in every moment of time in between activities, classes, meals, etc...
Fast forward. God recently led my husband and I to a new church. In the transition, I have not yet begun serving in a ministry. God calls us to serve and be connected in fellowship with other believers. I am eager to develop relationships with other believers at our new church. However, God has brought this issue to my attention again - almost as a warning. Renee, serve me. But do not replace our time together with busyness over at that church. It'll be easy to be involved in everything over there. Don't do it. I'll open the right doors. I want time with you still. Our time together is precious.
Has the Lord ever spoken to you about this? Most importantly, how do you respond to his command. He told Martha, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed."
Brestin and Troccoli end their chapter with this:
"Communing with the Lord needs to be as necessary and consistent as breathing. We must practice His presence in everything. What do you put in your heart? What do you think about? What music? What books? What about your friends? Have you sought out people who will really sharpen you? What you allow to seep deep into your soul will affect your love relationship with Jesus..."
p.s. this reminds me - a book on my list this year is Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. If this topic speaks to you, check it out! I've heard great things :)