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