just about anyone familiar with ihop in general and dana candler’s teachings specifically is familiar with the story of mary of bethany. mary was the sister of lazarus who chose to sit at the feet of Jesus while her sister, martha, stressed out in the kitchen. mary poured out her life and her inheritance to wash Jesus’ feet at dinner one night.
so often, we hold mary up as the paragon–the one we want to be like. we compare the sisters and find that Jesus (gently) rebuked martha and told her mary’s choice to sit with Him was best in luke 10. mary was the more spiritual one.
the problem is, most of the time i’ve felt that i’ve had more in common with martha. don’t get me wrong–i love spending hours in the Word and in prayer, listening to the song of the Lord over my life. however, when i sit down to spend time with Him, the enemy immediately floods my mind with the dishes i need to wash, the sheets i should probably change, the laundry that’s piling up, that function at the church for which i need to bake cookies, and the fact that i need to take my car to get the oil changed. shouldn’t spending time in the secret place be something i always want to do? is it really supposed to take that much effort?
the truth is, our flesh is always going to fight to maintain the discipline of a “quiet time” walk. it may be easier in some seasons than in others, but a walk with God–like any other relationship–takes effort, dedication, and work.
last night i was reading about mary and martha in john 11, and felt a tugging at my heart. Jesus and His disciples traveled to bethany because lazarus had died. although the sisters had called for Jesus to come earlier before lazarus died, Jesus purposefully waited so that His disciples would see His miracle and believe in Him. when they approached the home, both sisters ran out to greet Jesus at different times with the same reproach: “Lord, if You’d only been here, lazarus would still be alive.”
what truly blessed me, though, is that while mary’s plea tugged at Jesus’ emotions and moved His heart, martha received the revelation.
Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” ~John 11:20-27
mary knew the Lord and had spent time with Him, and yet martha was the one who got to make the statement of faith. when peter made this same declaration in matthew 16, Jesus pronounced a blessing over him and called him a rock. Jesus loved martha. He wasn’t comparing her to mary’s standard of intimacy with Him. He didn’t love mary better, even though mary prioritized time at His feet. no–He had revelation for martha too, even as encumbered as she was with running a home. and the revelation that He gave martha was something that came straight from the heart of the Father.
i don’t always get it right. sometimes i think i have the heart of a mary, but the schedule of a martha. i feel pulled in fifteen different directions–spread so thinly that the cracks show through the veneer. and that’s okay; He rates me on His standard for my life, not on someone else’s.