Monday, March 05, 2007

Here's something I sent out to some friends and family members back on February 1:

"I don't know about y'all, but I LOVE Christmas and New Year's and just about any other excuse to have FUN and throw a PARTY! But I've also found myself lately feeling tired...

VERY tired!

I read this letter from Steve Brown of Key Life Ministry this evening. It ministered to me. I love this guy's total honesty and his heart for the Lord.

I thought that maybe it might minister to some of you and where you're at right now.

Tired but trusting,



My name is Martha!

No, no. I haven't crossed over and this is not a "coming out of the closet" type letter.

Good heavens! What were you thinking?

I'm referring to the well-known passage of Scripture in Luke 10 when Jesus is invited to the home of Mary and Martha. John tells us that Jesus loved Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus. In that visit, you will remember, Lazarus had died and Jesus raised him from the dead.

(By the way, after I die, don't do the resuscitation thing with me. Just leave me be. Poor Lazarus had to die twice. Once is enough, thank you.)

At any rate, the incident described in Luke seems to be the first time Jesus visited the home of the three siblings. The first time Jesus comes is always a surprise. He is never what one thought he would be; he never says what one thinks he will say; he hardly ever fits the description of the religious folks. Every time you think you have Jesus figured, you don't.

Martha reminds me of me. When I first met Jesus I told him that I would serve him the rest of my life and went on about doing stuff that I thought would be pleasing to him. Luke says that Martha was busy "with much serving" (vs. 40a).

Most of my life I've been about "much serving"! It's not just serving either. It's serving Jesus and that is a laudable purpose. In fact, thinking he would be pleased, I became the most religious person you would ever want to meet. Not only that. I was the busiest religious person you would ever want to meet.

Do you know what irritates busy religious people?

Those who aren't religious and who aren't busy. Drives me nuts. So, being called as a leader of God's people, I told them to be more religious and to become busier in the service of Jesus. That's what Martha did too. She was irritated because Mary was not busy serving Jesus. "Lord," she said, "do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me" (vs. 40b).

Martha fully expected to have Jesus join her in her discipleship training of Mary. After all, lazy servers hurt the kingdom, their witness and their need to model "busy and religious" for other people.

And then the surprise: Jesus said, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her" (vs. 41-42).

"What?" Martha said. "You won't say that when you don't have anything to eat. Jesus, are you encouraging laziness? I thought you cared! I thought you loved me! Is this any way to treat someone you love? I'm working my tail off here and she...she's just sitting there. How do you expect me to serve you without any help? You are encouraging her in her lack of commitment and in her slothful ways. She is a sluggard and you know what the Bible says about sluggards."

Okay, maybe that's not in the text. Luke doesn't say Martha said exactly that. In fact, Luke doesn't say what Martha's response was. But I'm Martha and (trust me on this) even if it's not a part of the text, it should have been. That's exactly what Martha said or, at minimum, thought. I've been there, done that and have several T-shirts.

As I write this, I'm recovering from Christmas, the New Year stuff and grandchildren.

A lesser man would be dead.

No, I'm not going over that again. You're tired of it and so am I.

However, there is an incredible quiet right now as I write this. The quiet scares me. It not only scares makes me feel guilty. I can't just sit here and do nothing. I need to do something, preferably something religious to make up for the un-Christian things I said and thought during the Christmas season.

That's when he came.

In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength!

Hey, I know Scripture. I'm a Bible teacher. Okay? Be still and know that I am God.

I know that one too.

And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.

Will you stop it!

Why don't you stop it? In fact, stop everything and be still. Leave the universe to me and you just be still. You haven't accomplished that much anyway.

I've been thinking about that and I've decided to become more like Mary. (And, if you quote this letter out of context, you'll get the hives.) She understood three things that I'm going to try and remember.

First, I'm going to try and remember that there are some things that are way above my pay level. I can't fix global warming, get everybody who is lost into the kingdom, change the political climate in Washington, end oppression around the world, disciple all those people who got the doctrine wrong, fix the church or bring in the kingdom.

I can't even fix my toaster.

You're saying, "Steve, never underestimate the power of one individual." Okay, there is something to be said for that view, but there is something to be said for this one too.

And this is the second thing I'm going to try and remember: Never overestimate the power of one individual.

Pigs can't sing, dogs can't play checkers, horses can't talk and preachers can't live all they preach. When they try, it often makes them angry and frustrated, and they look foolish.

The third thing I've learned from Mary is that, if I'm at the feet of Jesus long enough, when I finally get up and start working in the kitchen, I'm a better cook and a more gracious host. Hungry people really do get fed and are better prepared (and have more energy) to leave the dining room and feed others.

So, if it's okay with you, I'm going to end this religious letter and maybe do nothing for a while. Kind of hang out with Jesus. The other stuff will get done, I suppose. It got done before I came along and will get done after I'm gone.

Christmas is over. The New Year celebrations are over. The grandchildren have gone home.

I'm just going to sit here with Jesus.

He asked me to invite you to join me.

In His Grip,
Steve Brown

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