09 April 2024

who you were made to be

 I've been thinking about a story from the Bible about a couple of women named Mary and Martha.

Mary and Martha were sisters, friends of Jesus. In the story I'm thinking of (you can read it in Luke 10:38-42), Martha had invited Jesus and his disciples - at least 12 of them - into her home.  She probably had the gift of hospitality.  I'm betting she thrived on hosting company, preparing a nice meal, having a houseful of people, hearing happy voices filling her home.

So Jesus and his friends come in and hang out in the living room while Martha is busy in the kitchen.  Her sister Mary doesn't seem to have the same gift of hospitality that Martha does.  While Martha is working, Mary is sitting in the living room with Jesus, listening to him talk.  She's just soaking in his words, glad to have him there and to be able to spend time with him.

Martha gets peeved.  She's doing all the work, running around trying to get the meal ready and make everything perfect, while Mary is just sitting around.  Mary has missed - or ignored - all of Martha's subtle hints to come help.  Martha comes and stands in the doorway and she's like, "Hey, Jesus!  Would you please tell Mary to help me?  I'm slaving away here, and I could use her help!"

Jesus, instead of agreeing with Martha and telling Mary to get busy, seems almost to reprimand Martha.  He tells her that Mary has chosen the better thing!  I mean seriously.  If it wasn't for Martha, no one would eat, right?  Someone has to do the work, right?  How unfair!

Here's what I've been thinking.  We've all been created differently, with individual gifts and abilities.  God created Martha with her gift of hospitality, just as he created Mary with the gift of presence.  I think Jesus was saying that Martha's mistake was expecting Mary to embrace Martha's gift of hospitality instead of her own gift.  And that Martha needed to embrace her hospitality gift with her whole heart.  Mary's choice of what was better was that she fully chose her gift of presence.  Martha just needed to be herself, to be cognizant of her gift.  She could have completely enjoyed her process of getting the house and the meal readied for Jesus and his disciples - that would have been her "better" thing.

I think sometimes we live the way Martha did; at least I know I do.  I look around at others instead of focusing on being myself. I might make a subtle demand that you be like me, take on my gifts.  Maybe I wish that I was more like someone else. But I want to be fully alive to myself as God made me.  I think that's the key to contentment: wholeheartedly being who I was made to be. I want to choose the better thing.