Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Being Loved, Just Because

Every sermon I’ve heard about Martha refers to her inability to stop working. She’s considered a busy woman too preoccupied with distractions to sit and be with Jesus. Personally, I see more truths buried in this story, maybe because I see myself.

I see in Martha's behavior a picture of my own attempts to please God. Life was about working hard to make everything just right. I wanted so desperately to prove my devotion. I was uncomfortable just being with Him. There was too much shame that covered my soul.

In the midst of growing up in the church I was taught that what I did made a difference. If I had my quiet times, prayed my prayer lists, volunteered for ministries, gave my tithe, I would be giving my life back to God. It’s what was required if I wanted to prove I loved Him.

I thrived on my efforts for God. Somehow it made me have value to Him and His kingdom. I missed the point of the relationship, the cross, the resurrection and my life. God didn’t bring me here to work for Him or fulfill requirements. He brought me here to love me, just because.

I diminish the work of the cross when I put myself in a position of “have to’s”. The cross restored the broken relationship with God and the resurrection brought me new life. I have nothing left to prove. I don’t owe anything. I have nothing to pay back. If I try to pay back the gift of relationship and love, I diminish the purpose of the cross and the resurrection. The cross finished the work, removing the “have to’s, bridging the gap so that I might experience deep, intimate love without requirements.

I believe Martha loved God with all of her being, could it be that she just didn't know how to rest in who she was apart from what she did? I don’t think that Martha preferred being busy with preparations. I wonder if she thought it’s what was needed from her. Because of my own life experience, I believe Martha was loving Him in the only way she knew.

Underneath the busy woman is a woman who isn’t comfortable being loved as she is. She’s not even comfortable being alone with herself. She’s the woman who volunteers for everything at the church, is the most disciplined woman in her Bible study and quiet times and is busy dabbling in all sorts of places. When she misses her quiet time she feels guilty. She strives for perfection in her relationship with God, because she sees her imperfection and is uncomfortable with who she is before Him. She doesn’t feel like she’s enough. Therefore, she’s still trying to earn.

I know, I was that woman. Underneath the work was a woman longing to be enough to be worthy of love, and somehow be found pleasing. All along I was pleasing to Him. All along He saw me just as I was and loved me still. He loved me, because love is His nature. It’s not about what I do, it’s about who He is.

I don’t see Jesus’ words to Martha as a rebuke. That doesn’t fit His heart. I see His words as affirmation and invitation. I hear Him say, “Martha, I see all that you are doing to please me, but all I want is you.” “I want you to know how deeply and intimately I love you, just because.”

He says to you, to me and to Martha, “stop your efforts, be still, come let me love you, just as you are” “I am delighted with you.” “Nothing you do will make me love you more.” “You can cease from your work and rest in mine.” “You already please me, just because.”

Also posted at Internet Cafe' Devotions
©copyrighed 2008 by Julie L. Todd


Busy Mom said... Reply to comment

Excellent! Thanks for this devotion! It really spoke to my heart and was a great source of encouragment to me! God Bless you!

JoAnn said... Reply to comment

I read this through the Internet Cafe email devotions. Thank you so much for writing this. It was so very encouraging. I'm dealing with this exact issue in my life. Being a perfectionist, which has turned into some compulsions for me. And just the other day the Lord showed me He accepted me just for me, not because I do everything 'perfect'. I'm still having a hard time accepting that. This devotion has helped me see it a bit more clearly. Thank you for writing and sharing this. :)

nikowa said... Reply to comment

Great post! It made me realize, I'm a Martha....

I need to work on that.

Victoria (Vii) said... Reply to comment

Thanks for being real and sharing your heart! Each day I am learning what it truly means to walk with and rest in my Savior! Your encouragement has been very uplifting and inspiring!

Gretchen said... Reply to comment

Are you comfortable in your own skin before Jesus?

Alas, only sometimes.

Does working for Him somehow make you feel of greater value? I guess it does, more often than I'd like to admit. So much of life is a "to do" list, and I have to admit, I write "Bible" or some such on my list to make sure I don't forget to seek His Word. I realize that making my Bible reading a "have to" is not right. But, there are times when I don't want to, and I feel like (it's sort of like exercise) when I start, I'll be the better for it at the end.

Do you hide away in busyness afraid to face that person within? Perhaps.

What is your motive in what you do? To be loved by God. Bingo. I already am.

Do you see how intimately and deeply He loves you, just because? Apparently not to the extent that I thought I did.

What an engaging, affirming, and in some ways difficult post this morning, Julie. Thank you for the wisdom of your words and experiences. xxxooogretchen

mikki roo said... Reply to comment

Wow. That is me, and so many women I know. Thank you for that, I will share it with my friends - God bless you!

Miss G said... Reply to comment

Thank you! I recognize myself here and somehow even in times of realizing this I don't know how to find the balance between just sitting around the house "being loved" whatever that means and doing. I am such a do-er. Hmm . . . I pray that God in all His goodness will continue to teach me and grow me and refine me. Thank you for contributing to the process. Kelly

Laura said... Reply to comment

Oh, my friend! How you understand the heart of a woman! We have all been Martha's at some point, I fear. I loved this: "
I believe Martha wanted to please Jesus. I don’t think that Martha preferred being busy with preparations. I think she thought it’s what was needed from her. I believe that she was loving Him in the only way she knew. I think she felt more comfortable doing for Him then being with Him."
Oh, how I have failed so many times by loving Him the only way I know how! But He is so faithful. He never leaves me there. He continues to woo me into greater intimacy with each passing season.
You are so beautiful, Julie!

Tiffany Stuart said... Reply to comment

Hi Sweet Julie,

I'm thankful you are willing to share out of the wealth that God has given you. I echo your prayer. I've been a Martha and a Mary, depending on the day or the hour.
I love the truth that God loves them both, just because.

Just because. Because He is.

What is He?

He is LOVE! Perfect love.

Julie, what a joy it is to read your devotion. I'm so thankful of how God connected us via the blogs. You are now a precious friend, one that reminds me of what matters most.

Thanks. Well said and beautiful.


Heidi Zawisza said... Reply to comment

Thanks for posting this. I needed it today.

elaine @ peace for the journey said... Reply to comment

I have lived the life of both. Sometimes my Martha is my necessary. Life requires it. I think, as you so eloquently put it, God loves our Martha; he simply wants us to walk it with a Mary tenderness toward him.

Thanks for your comment on my blog. I know what you mean by thinking we're leaving a season, only to wake up still living it and wishing out feet on another path.

It's a curious thing, and most days (as of late) I do feel that I'm walking it thru in obedience, but with little joy.

Thankfully, God is faithful to walk every season alongside, and while I may not have the answers, I have a God who does. And even if he doesn't offer his voice in the matter, I can live with some answerables.

I think, perhaps, its one of the major degrees of separation between temporal me and Eternal Thee.

Love your thoughts.


Shanda said... Reply to comment

This is a great post for me. Of course, this is right where I'm at, somewhere between religion and relationship. Funny thing is that I always thought of myself as more of a Mary because I'm definitely not the hospitality type, but you've given me a totally different look at these ladies. Thanks so much for all of your insight and guidance!

Vicki said... Reply to comment

Ah, my friend, no words were truer. I love the way you've unveiled so carefully all the many truths found in this well-known story. Surely Mary & Martha demonstrate to us the the vast difference between religion and relationship. I think we've all been like Martha, wrapped up in servanthood, trying to feel better about ourselves (and show others our devotion) when all along we're ALREADY accepted in the Beloved.

This beautiful post is something every woman will be blessed to read. It comes to me as a timely reminder, one that will remain vivid in my mind and heart now because of all you've shared.

love you, girl,

Connie@Little Red Hearts From God said... Reply to comment

Like Tiffany, I can be both,,, depending on the hour of the day...

but mostly... I am a performer.. living the performance based life...not just for Jesus but for everyone.... and life.. and others forever raising the bar... so I continue to try harder which means... you got it... I stay exhausted..

because I will never meet anyones expectations...

I can live perfection if I realize that I am already there...

Because Jesus has already DONE IT!!!

you said it beautifully Mrs Julie... and you always do...

love ya girlfriend

Laura said... Reply to comment

Hello, Dear friend, and greetings from the beach! We are on vacation this week, and may I say, there is no better food for the soul than taking an extended Sabbath? I prayed your name, and those of your daughters over the ocean today...

Amy said... Reply to comment


This is one of your best devotions! You have an amazing gift for revealing God's heart through words. I am SO excited to watch the way the Lord is using you to minister to the hearts of women.

You are a HUGE blessing!

Love you,

K M F said... Reply to comment

i am kmf from kerala i am first time in your blog i love it and i very glad to meet all your family
have a nice day

Brumbemom said... Reply to comment

That is a very difficult lesson to learn when most things that we are taught lean toward the opposite, "Working to be worthy of God's love". It is hard to imagine that He loves us just because. Thanks for the heartfelt words of encouraging.

Kimberly said... Reply to comment

"We become Martha’s because we are more comfortable with doing something for Him than just being loved by Him. Somehow we feel it is our duty. We believe we are supposed to repay Him with our lives.

Our doing makes us feel pleasing, somehow. Underneath the busy woman is a woman who isn’t comfortable being loved as she is."

Ummmm...so are you listening in on my heart or what? :) You have such a tender way of expressing His most tender love! A love I most certainly do struggle with just resting in.

I love that you said that it wasn't His heart to rebuke Martha, but an invitation to rest in His love. I have always rebuked myself for being a Martha. Thank you for helping me see this with fresh eyes!

You were on my heart today! I am so glad I came by!

Hannah Mowery said... Reply to comment

julie, your writing is so true. what I love about that entire interaction between Christ, Mary and Martha, is the fact that we can "find" ourselves and liken ourselves to both of the women during different seasons in our lives. Christ's one and only point is that, yes working and preparing is important, but the MOST important thing is to just know that you know that you know that you KNOW, God loves you and you scramble to hang onto every word that He has to say :)