You know that panic-stricken moment when a friend calls & tells you she’s on her way to “drop by” for a visit and your house is a complete mess. Sure! You’d love for her to stop by, but in a perfect world, you need her to be stuck in traffic for at least 4 hours to get your house Pinterest perfect. You disregard any reasons why she might be coming over. Your main concern is cleaning the countertops, masking smells, setting out cutesy, rich-people snacks, & possibly cleaning those baseboards you’ve been putting off for months. Your mind is swirling all in a tizzy and your friend hasn’t even hung up the phone yet. But heaven forbid your friend know how you live when she’s not around.
Can you relate?
When I was younger, I remember I used to hate Sunday afternoons. For any other American family, Sunday afternoons would usually mean lounging around watching football, taking the beloved Sunday afternoon nap, or just allowing your food to digest after a satisfying Sunday lunch. But not for me. Sunday afternoons meant cleaning every inch of the house before small group at 6:00pm. I hated it! The vacuuming, the washing dishes, the cleaning the bathrooms. I remember telling myself that whenever I got older with my own place I would keep my house in whatever state it was in despite who was coming over. They were just going to have to deal with it, and if they wanted to judge: “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!” Ironically, today I find myself frantically cleaning, tidying, & organizing before anyone comes over for a visit. And so the cycle continues!
But this cleaning frenzy started way before our time. Just check out Luke 10:38-42:
“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (NLT)
Hello, my name is Martha
Oh Martha! I feel you, homie. I know your struggles. Martha & I are both just practical & efficient human beings. Someone says they’re coming over for a visit and our perfectionism flairs up. Our minds start the planning process without even trying. We start making lists in our heads. Cleaning list. Shopping list. Cooking list. Conversation topics list. There’s nothing wrong with being practical & efficient, but I’ll be honest, at times it can really cloud your thinking. Imagine Jesus, Himself, shot you a quick text and said, “Hey girl! I’m thinking about stopping by to say hey. 6pm good with you?” Well, of course, first I would figure you’d freak out because it’s Jesus. But if you’re a Martha, it would be “go time” and the house prepping would begin, stat.
Not even considering why Jesus wants to make a visit in the first place, we’re cooking and cleaning; second guessing if we should put out the daisies or the calla lilies. Wondering if he will notice if we don’t dust the mantle thoroughly. Hoping that he will notice the new table runner you bought on sale at Target.
Have you notice, though, that we tend to worry about things that other people don’t even think twice about? When you go to visit a friend, do you put on your white gloves and inspect for dust? Do you taste the food to see if she made it from scratch or picked it up from Walmart? No! If you do, you have problems you need to work on. But why do we automatically assume that when our friends come over for a visit?!
We are spending all this time preparing our homes for a visit instead of preparing ourselves for the time we are going to be spending with our friends.
Then there’s Mary
Oh Mary, with your hipster ways, not caring too much about what the house looks like, just eager to hang out with your friend. Here is Mary at the feet of Jesus Christ, soaking in every single moment with Him. Nothing else matters at the moment. Everything else can wait. Oh how we wish we could be more like Mary. But at the same time, we’re kind of ticked off that Mary is doing “nothing” and is perfectly fine with that. There’s so much that needs to be done! We’re trying to keep everything under control & Mary decided to give up that control to spend time with her Lord. With our chest puffed up & tears of frustration welling in our eyes, we ask: “Really Lord?! You’re hungry, right? Obviously, Mary needs to be a better servant & help me in the kitchen to get your meal ready.” But then the Lord gently responds:
“My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42, NLT)
What we need to learn
There are 5 things that I’ve learned from Jesus’ response to Martha’s exasperated plea. But the main truth that has been weighing on my heart is simply: Stop worrying about making everything perfect!
Jesus doesn’t want us to come to Him perfect
When Jesus comes knocking on our door, He’s purposeful about coming when we’re unprepared. If we had everything under control, all hunky-dory, then we wouldn’t need Him. Jesus is all the perfection that we need. He came to this earth in human form, lived here without sin, & died a sinner’s death so that we wouldn’t have to be perfect. Praise be to God! He is perfect for us.
We can come to Him in a hot mess of a state
Jesus doesn’t expect us to have anything together. He came & He died for all hot messes. I don’t care who you are, we are all a hot mess in some way, shape, or form. He wants us to come to him just as we are. He is so full of grace & mercy that He is willing to cover us with His holiness to make us whole again.
He wants us right where we are
Have you ever been called by God to do something & instantly you think, “Well, I need to get my stuff together first. In no way am I prepared for this right now”? I know I have. We have a habit of thinking that if He calls us to something, we need to get our act together. But if you pay close attention to all stories in the Bible, you’ll realize absolutely no one that God used to do great works had any of their crap together!! He wants us right where we are. Then and only then can God’s glory truly shine through us.
Stop getting so wrapped up in all the details
Us Marthas, we’re details people! But we get so wrapped up in the details that we miss the moments right in front of us. The one thing we really need to be concerned about. In Luke’s story, Martha completely misses the opportunity for life to be spoken into her by Jesus Himself. She was too concerned about how the house looked & what they were going to eat that she missed a vital opportunity to know about true cleanliness & partake of the Bread of Life.
Gather around the table
Being a details person, we tend to miss the opportunity to spend quality time with others. We get so concerned, burned out, & overwhelmed by the preparation, that we miss the precious moments we could have really had with our loved ones once they arrived. So, I want to make this challenge with you today…If you’re a Martha, set aside your urge to clean the house thoroughly & prepare a 4 course meal, and simply have a few friends over to spend some quality time with them. Gather around a table and soak in those precious moments. In those moments, that’s where Jesus is. Do not take that from yourself.