Fiona in January

Fiona in January

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Having a "Mary" Heart in a "Martha" World

I have just begun a new personal Bible study. I finished up my study going through this book and was really looking for just the right "next" book to read as part of my daily quiet time with God. I wasn't really inspired by much I was finding until I came across this book packed in a box. I have no idea where I got it - maybe from my sister Kate - but it practically leaped out of the box and smacked me in the face.

God knows me pretty well - I need obvious direction, subtle is not my style!

I started going through this book last week and it seems to be exactly what I need to be reading these days. I've been struggling with prioritizing daily time with God, which is something I've been trying to work on since our church did the "Free Growth" series...but I've gotten distracted and discouraged these past few months with us moving, juggling jobs and transportation, etc. I've allowed life to take over instead of proactively setting aside time each day to spend in God's Word and in prayer. I know that I'm suffering because of it, I feel less focused and much more easily overwhelmed than I do when I know I'm fully anchored through daily communication with Him.

Hence the book almost smacking me in the face!

The book is called "Having A Mary Heart in A Martha World". Those of you unfamiliar with this Mary and Martha story can find it in the Bible - Luke 10:48-42.

It is my goal to regularly blog about what I am learning through this study and I hope that some of what I learn can encourage you too. The very first chapter in this book is really an introduction into the short story of Mary and Martha (two sisters) when Jesus and his disciples unexpectedly come to visit their home.

Luke 10:42 "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her."

Just a little background - the basic story is that when Jesus and his disciples came to visit, Martha was busy about the house making preparations for them. Cooking, cleaning, etc. Mary chose to sat at Jesus' feet and listen to Him teach. Martha became frustrated with her sister and the fact that she wasn't helping with the preparations and Jesus used it as an opportunity to teach us how we can prioritize spending time with our God in a busy world.

This first chapter of the book focused on the fact that whether you tend to be a bit driven, like Martha, or more contemplative, like Mary, God is calling you to intimacy with Him through Jesus Christ. The only requirement for a deeper friendship with God is showing up with a heart open and ready to receive.

The world we live in clamors, "Do more! Be all you can be!" But our heavenly Father whispers, "Be still and know that I am God." He isn't as much looking for busy workers as He is for children - to be a son or daughter of God means to know Him first, prioritize a relationship with Him first, then everything else will fall into place. Putting work before worship truly putting the "cart before the horse". When we first spend time in His presence, God gives us the power and strength we need to serve Him and go about the challenges each day brings us whether at work or at home.

When it comes down to it, part of me is Mary - I want to worship and spend time with Jesus. However, part of me is Martha - there is so much to be done! Life is hectic at every level, so where do we find the time and energy to worship our Lord and serve Him among the demands of being an employee, a wife, a mother, etc.?

It comes down to obedience. There is time to work, but there is also time to worship. It all comes back to adjusting those pesky priorities.

I'm making a commitment to really work on that issue in my own life, and so far I've been keeping that commitment well. It's beginning to make a difference in my own thoughts and prayers and I find myself looking forward to spending time in God's Word and this new book. It doesn't feel like "work" to try to carve out "extra" time to spend with feels more like a privilege and something I must do in order to make it through the eating breakfast or remembering to take a shower (also extremely important!).

Do any of you have any ideas that work for you as you try to prioritize worship in your daily life? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


  1. I think you are on the right path Em. Learning to be still is much more complex than taking time to actually be physically still, at least it is for me. It is an attitude of the heart through all our waking hours and being obedient to that still small voice within us. It is deep calling to deep.

    1 Chronicles 28:9 has a great principle about all of this:

    “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.

  2. Thanks "Anonymous" :). For someone like me, being still is always such a challenge, glad to know I'm not alone. Great Bible passage too, thanks!