post it notes-slow down, calm, rest, sanctuarySeven Lessons from Two Sisters

Deep within my soul, there is an urgent call to slow down; to do less and embrace the calm which calls deeply to my life. There is a profound longing to move away from all that exhausts, to seek sanctuary and hide- far from the frantic, the too much. I long to be a Mary…and yet, at heart I am a Martha, distracted by the tyranny of the perceived urgent; the self- imposed deadlines; the self-sabotage of endless work, rather than worship and self- care.

1. Open or Closed?
When Jesus came to their village, Martha opened her home, yet Mary opened her heart. Jesus is always with us, but never enters our lives uninvited. I am left wondering if, in hankering after hospitality and the work that inevitably goes with that, I am missing Jesus’ invitation to open my heart as well as my home…

2. Distracted or Focussed?
We are told that Martha is distracted by all the preparations that had to be made, and I imagine her dashing this way and that, trying to make things perfect for Jesus’ stay. Conversely, Mary is trying to listen, focussed at the feet of the Lord. I often need the reminder that Jesus calls us simply to believe in Him, and that “human effort accomplishes nothing” without the Holy Spirit working in and through us. (John 6:63 NLT) 

Magnifying glass- focus

3. Listening or Demanding?
When Martha does come to Jesus, it is not to listen as Mary does, but to demand that Mary helps her. “Don’t you care, Jesus?” How often do I put forward the same sentiment? Yet Jesus gently listens, and I am reminded of the times when I come to Jesus, full of demands rather than listening to all the Lord has to tell me. I consider his patience with me and all that I am missing…

4. Worried & Upset or at Peace?
Mary, at the feet of Jesus, is content and at peace yet Martha is “worried and upset about many things.” I recognise these feelings in myself and consider why I am worried and upset about so many things. Could I simply let go of everything that I consider “important or urgent”, leaving all at the feet of Jesus to sit and listen and learn from him? Could I experience the same contentment that Mary feels?

5. One Thing
Jesus tells Martha that only one thing is needed. I think he is gently chastising her, encouraging her to worship first before working: working from rest, not resting from work. This reminds me again to consider what one thing Jesus is asking of me right now…

6. Our Choice
The story of Martha and Mary is about choice. Both women are offered the same opportunity. Yet each approaches their time with Jesus differently. One scurries around, with the desire to make Jesus welcome in her home. The other stops, kneels and welcomes Jesus into her heart. I so want to be like Mary, but so often reflect Martha.

7. Transformation
We know that worship and work both need to be present in our lives. Jesus never says that working is wrong. He simply points to the need to sit at his feet first so that our work time flows from our worship. In this way, we will know what is required to be done, and what is to be left alone. He calls us, as ever, to transformation in our whole lives- work and worship- so that there is a rhythm and balance to the whole. I think that Jesus asks us to encompass both the Martha and the Mary in our lives and to allow him to transform us as we follow him, wherever he leads. 

Martha and Mary textile art


Textile Reflections

This piece reflects the Martha and Mary sides of us all that make up our whole. Martha is represented by the busy swirls on the left whereas Mary is depicted by the calmer, more peaceful waters on the right. The two sides are riven through by the River of Life, depicting the Holy Spirit within us who enables our work to flow from our worship, ensuring balance and rhythm within. 

We need both sides to function, but unless we set aside time to sit at the feet of Jesus to focus on and learn from His words, then we will always be “distracted” by earthly tasks. Like Mary, may we be encouraged to focus on the “one thing” that Jesus calls us to, believing in Him and drinking from the water that He gives, so that “it becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within, giving eternal life.”

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