Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Pandemic Life: Becoming More Like Mary

No doubt you’re familiar with the story of Martha and Mary found in Luke 10:38-42.

Martha and Mary opened their home to Jesus as he traveled through town with His disciples. The story contrasts the responses of the sisters. While Martha labored diligently to prepare and serve a meal, Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, soaking in His every word.

Martha grew angry because Mary wasn’t helping. Frustrated, she turned to Jesus and asked if He cared that she had to fix the meal alone. She urged Jesus to tell Mary to help her. But rather than follow Martha’s suggestion, Jesus gently rebuked her:

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42 NIV)

Although I longed to be a Mary, I was a Martha. I used to justify my response by telling myself It’s a Martha World. But now, because of lessons learned through the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m becoming a Mary.

Let’s return to the story. It’s important that the Marthas of the world recognize something in this passage. Jesus didn’t reproach Martha for her service but rather for being “worried and upset about many things.”

Serving is a principle of Christianity. The problem occurs when serving distracts us from its purpose. If serving becomes a never-ending to-do list, our eyes are not on Jesus. Our eyes are on what WE are doing. And sometimes on what those around us are not doing.

And Martha, being “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made” wasn’t in the moment. She wasn’t cherishing her time with Jesus.

The story of Martha and Mary teaches us it’s better to give our full attention to Jesus. When we enter the presence of God through Bible study or prayer, ideally our awareness is concentrated on Him. We don’t think about checklists. We don’t let our calendar distract us or our email derail us. We sit at His feet, listening to His words.

That’s good news for the Marthas of the world. It doesn’t mean we stop serving, but that we simplify. We stop being a martyr to our busyness. We evaluate what must be done and let the rest go. We find joy in our service to Him as we focus on His presence.

The words Jesus spoke to His disciples are still true today:

“... The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63 NKJV)

These days of semi-isolation are teaching us to gather strength from the only One who can provide it. We can linger in His presence, just like Mary, soaking in His every word more aware of the Spirit within than ever before.

It’s a lesson I vow never to forget.

Copyright © July 2020 Candyce Carden, used with permission.

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