21 September 2013
Martha: One Thing Is Needful
I want to make it right for you,
to give you, Lord, what you deserve.
I want to burn and die, instead
of rusting, Lord, and sitting still;
to make you happy, Christ, with me;
let mine a life of service be.
And yet I fear I'm not enough,
and worry, Lord, of failing you.
I spend myself, all just for you,
but in my heart still there's no joy.
Accusingly it's haunting me:
"let mine a life of service be".
Martha, Martha, you are careful
and troubled about many things:
But one thing is needful.
Mary has chosen that good part.
Oh Lord - What do you want of me?
Is serving you not what you wished?
Should I not your commandments keep
instead of lazing at your feet?
Is not your first desire of me
that mine a life of service be?
But no - just one thing do I need:
the faith that sits down at your feet,
to be with you, so quietly,
accept the grace you give to me;
for not my works bring joy to you
but that you've found me - the lost sheep;
and I'm not saved by what I do,
but all because you first loved me.
So let my service for you be
like flowers blossoming in spring:
not toil or worry, but the fruit
that fellowship with you does bring.
I get the impression that we often get into the story already seeing Martha negatively. While actually I think she's a good and eager woman who straight away wants to invite Jesus to her house, and serve Him in the way she can do it best! Isn't that what many of us want to do? I mean, "let mine a life of service be" is something one hears and reads all over, something I'd expect to find in an old hymn. Burning and rusting - that bit I took from a quote by G.L. Mackay (missionary to Taiwan): "It is better to burn out than rust out." Many good Christians have been like Martha: wanting to serve the Lord. Nothing wrong with that, is there?
On the last day before my father left me in Switzerland, he told me something really valuabe. And that is, that before Jesus sent out His disciples, He called them to be with Him. Mary is doing just that: being close to the Lord. If we jump straight-out into serving and sweating and burning (like Martha), that is just going to turn into works-righteousness or stress. While if we just sit at Jesus' feet like Mary did, that will grow into service too - service not out of fear or out of trying to be good enough for God, but out of love for Him and accepting His grace. YES, we should serve the Lord eagerly. But not out of fear - for He has given us a spirit of love.
I just love that picture, don't you??