December 26, 2016

The Now...

This year has not been the easiest for our state, country or family. There has been so much division in our country, tragedy in our state and disappointment on a personal level. Many we love have suffered devastating loss and tragedy. It’s honestly been unprecedented in my own lifetime. But at one of the many funerals I attended this past year my sister-in-law said to our family, "Let this be a lesson to us. We never know when will be the last time we are together. We need to really BE together more." It struck home with me at the time but as I was reflecting today, it finally sunk in. If I’ve learned anything this past year, it’s been that life is fragile and all too often we don’t know what we have until it’s gone. Why do we spend our days looking back wishing for a simpler time or looking ahead hoping for some future breakthrough and never valuing the beauty and opportunities of today? I am the guiltiest of all at this. I spent a good portion of this holiday season sad- sad that my kids weren’t all with us, sad that my grandbabies were 500 miles away, sad that our parents are declining, sad that our kids aren’t little, sad for those who are no longer here, sad that so much has changed- that I missed many ‘now’ moments that I’ll never get back. 

So I want to vow this upcoming year to do as that song says, "Live like you are dying". We only are guaranteed today. If this all sounds depressing, thats not my intention.  But I'm fed up with not having the perspective of Now! I want to view life differently this year. I don't want to waste precious time grieving moments passed or longing for moments ahead. But instead I want to value the opportunities in the NOW that may not be here tomorrow, that cannot be held onto or saved for later, but are meant to be lived and enjoyed today. 

Can we strive to prioritize relationships this year and to value every moment with one another, not wasting another second with regret, selfishness, division, grudges, unforgiveness, resentments or unspoken love? What better time is there than the holidays to say the things we have always meant to say but have put off. Who knows if we'll have another chance. What better time than now to patch up those misunderstandings, to let go of those grudges, to ask for forgiveness and to give it. What better time than now to speak to each other the things we would say if we thought it was the last time? 

Think about it. And do it. With God’s help, I am determined to. 
May God bless each of you and enable us all this upcoming year to recognize and to live in the now and to be grateful for all God has done in our lives.  It’s a lot more than we realize. Amen

October 11, 2016

What I Know (concerning this election)

The political climate of this current presidential election has been the most controversial, confusing, sensationalized and polarizing I’ve seen in my years of living on this earth. I can’t speak for the generations before me, but of mine, I think this takes the cake. I can’t stomach a whole lot of it, but thanks to Facebook I am as informed as my friends are and their friends’ friends’ friends are and so on into infinity. It's confusing and peace-stealing. By not tuning into the endless political pontificating in the news, and by choosing to watch football instead of the debates, we try to not let it affect us. But despite these precautions, we still are sometimes in places where we cannot help but be exposed to the news, to hear other’s unasked for opinions or to be pulled into political discussions and so on. Unless you live on a lonely mountain somewhere or deep in the swamp without wifi, internet, satellite or cable its pretty much impossible to get away from it and it’s hard to be blissfully uninformed these days. (To be clear, I'm not advocating being uninformed, I'm just sharing how I cope). :P

But I’ve never seen such polarization even among Christians. For every article on why you can’t be a Christian and vote for Hillary, I see just as many questioning the salvation of those who are voting for Trump. Its ridiculous and upsetting and confusing. It's easy in this season to question what matters most when so much is wrong. Different church and political leaders who I have respected in the past, have added to the confusion with such differing views from one another. There’s no clear good vs. evil like in the old days. There's so much legitimately wrong with both candidates that it’s looking like a case of 'pick your poison' and nobody wins. The other day I got dragged into a political discussion and by the end of it my stomach was in knots and I was despairing of life and the future of my grandkids. I seriously wanted to throw up and just had to get away. It took me nearly three days before I could feel peace return. So much concern for my country and for the body of Christ which appears divided. So many questions. So much I don't know:

Which side is right? Are they both? Are neither? Are we doomed? Should we vote or not even bother? And who the heck should we vote for? Should we just give up? Should we fight harder?

I don’t know.

And I still don't entirely know the answer to every single question. However, after wrestling with my thoughts and praying a lot, I have emerged with some things I DO know and that the Lord has placed on my heart and reminded me of... Here they are:

1. Trump and Hillary and each person who loves them, hates them and those who don't care- were each created in the image of God.

2. Jesus gave up His life, He died on the cross for Trump and Hillary and for those who love them, those who hate them, those who don’t care.

3. Since this is true and God loves and values them, He expects me to also love and value Trump and Hillary and those who love them, those who hate them and those who don’t care.

4. God’s not a Republican or a Democrat. He’s not even American! He loves each one and each nation equally. Now that doesn’t mean we should disrespect our nation, those who fought for it or those who govern it. But He does love universally and He never violates that love by being unloving to another He created. 

5. God isn’t worried. He’s not up in heaven wringing His hands in anxiety. He’s not wondering what to do. He’s not taken by surprise. He’s not angry at whoever is wrong (I guarantee we each are wrong in something). But He’s got a plan… even if we screw it up- which leads to the next thing I know…

6. God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God and who are called according to His purpose. There have been dark times down through history, times darker than this, people in authority who were worse than these- and through those times people drew nearer to God, things in their hearts were exposed and they dealt with them. Their character grew, their wisdom grew, their love grew, their roots went deeper and the Kingdom of God was advanced. Which leads to this last one…

7. We don’t need to be so distraught, so angry, so worried, so distracted by and caught up in the horror of this current political mess to miss this opportunity to shine God’s light and love on a dark world that desperately needs Him.  We need to get this into perspective: There are worse things than our chosen candidate not winning. Worse things like people dying without hope and without knowing how dearly loved and valuable they are. And troubled times are a great revealer. They expose where we really are and what’s the most important. If your house was on fire (or being flooded as my friends in south Louisiana know all too well) what would you grab first? And what would you not bother with? Troubled times cause us to cut to the chase and get real about what is important. “Everything that can be shaken will be shaken.”… we are being shaken and its showing our true colors and our greatest needs. And the world needs Jesus. And we are His only representatives on this earth. While the darkness is increasing and the heat has been turned up, let us not be so distracted by and focused on the political whirlwind around us that we miss this golden opportunity to focus on what really matters to Him: people. And to share and represent the hope we have in Jesus and to tangibly show His love.   

Yes, I will vote on November 8, for the one who I think will best elect the Supreme Court judges who will make laws which I feel are the most important. I encourage each of you to go to God and get His direction. And remember, there’s nothing wrong with sharing your opinions- if it's done in a way that respects and honors those of differing views- and to stand up for the truth in a loving way unique to you.  But let us get this whole thing in perspective- people before politics, relationships before opinions. Find common ground with those you differ with and love them where they’re at. And be humble. Remember you may be wrong! And if who you think should be elected isn’t, don’t despair. Our hope isn’t in a political party or a president, or in our rights as citizens- our hope is in the Lord. It’s always been that way and it always will be. We just know it now. And for that I am glad. Amen.

July 20, 2016

If the answer was Yes.

One thing I’ve realized that I do with this blog is I wait until I feel I’ve kind of worked through something and have what I consider insight into it before I share it with the world. Hence why my posts are few and far between. But I have many thoughts in the meantime- some thought provoking, some not so much- that I feel I’ve not processed it enough to merit a blog post. But this morning as I was praying, I felt that (not going to say “God spoke to me!” because it wasn’t that obvious, but…), I felt that I may need to share anyway. That maybe some of my in-the-process thoughts might be worth reading as I am working them out in my head and heart. It may cause someone to start working out some similar thoughts themselves in a way and with a conclusion that is unique to them. Also I’ve decided that I don’t have to write a novel for it to be worthy of a post. :) So with that in mind I hope to post more regularly. I hope. That remains to be seen…

So here’s one thing twirling through my head of late. I heard a message someone posted on Facebook where a minister asked this question- ‘If we knew the answer was going to be ‘yes’, how would we then pray?’ Then he followed it up with this scripture: For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20.

So this got me thinking how God is my heavenly Father. I am His kid so to speak. So as   Mom with my own children- or maybe to put it where I am in life now- with my grandsons, if one of them said, “Mimi? Would you help me with this?” Goodness, I’d be so eager, that I’d be knocking over furniture to get to them quicker. So is this how God is with me when I ask Him something that is obviously His will? Or if I ask something that is already declared as a promise in His word? I think the answer to this would obviously be Yes. (I realize He doesn't always say 'yes' when we pray for various reasons beyond our limited understanding but for the purposes of this post understand that I'm referring to those things which we KNOW are His will.) The things He has promised and that are His will are things that He obviously wants to do. It’s not like I have to twist His arm. To be honest, a lot of times I think my prayers have been more like vent sessions than intercession. Or I’ve viewed my prayers kind of like writing the President a letter that he probably won’t read but maybe I’ll get lucky. Now there have been many anointed moments where I knew I was breaking through and making a connection in prayer but it seems that should happen more often than it does. Now that I’ve been turning this recent thought over in my head I feel it has given a boost to my faith. There’s this scripture along the same vein that encourages my faith when I pray:

1 John 5: 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.” 

So if I’m asking for wisdom, direction, peace, to not be afraid, to be able to love or to forgive, then I think I can be pretty confident that God’s answer will be YES. The pressure isn’t on me to ask a certain way or to pray harder or more often. Really my only responsibility is just to ask and believe. And like my children and grandchildren would hopefully do, I can feel confident that of course my Father’s answer to these requests will be- yes.

For example, yesterday I had a doctor’s appointment and for some reason I was feeling anxious about it and some other things. Instead of just accepting that feeling and going on as I was, I prayed about it on my way there. And I thought about God’s promises concerning what I was feeling. One was- God has not given us a spirit of fear. But He’s given us a Spirit of power, love and a sound mind. So it’s not God’s will that I be anxious. So I asked Him to help me not be anxious with the thought in mind that I was praying according to His will and of course the answer would be yes, And guess what- He answered and I wasn’t. Yay! :D

So anyhow, I haven’t got as good a handle on this as I’d like but since I started thinking this way I have been praying with a lot more confidence and faith than I was. Now God is so good and He’s answered so many of my prayers in the past despite my puny faith. But I feel like I have a new way of thinking of prayer and of thinking of my heavenly Dad. It really makes me love Him more and want to talk to Him about stuff.

Nothing profound and it’s not totally processed but I’m working on it.  I hope that despite it not being fully formed that it’s something that blesses you, helps you in your prayer life and your relationship with your heavenly Father. So anyhow… that’s all I got. Bless y’all! :D

June 18, 2016

The story I've not yet told...

I have a story to tell. Some people have heard bits and pieces of it from me but I wanted to finally put it all down here while it's still fresh and amazing. So here goes...

Mine is your average American family. I have parents and siblings and aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents. Nothing spectacular or unusual. We are great folks and all and I wouldn’t trade us for anything but there has never been anything particularly interesting that has made us stand out from the crowd of other great families.  Until now.

Well… I have been a member of for several years. I love history and I love genealogy stuff so it’s been something I’ve dabbled with on and off for years and have filled in a lot of our family tree for many generations. But I had no idea how life-changing putting my family tree online would be for us.

Anyhow I get junk email on occasion- people wanting to sell me prescription drugs, trying to set me up with singles in my area or billionaires in Africa wanting to share their fortunes with me. (Apparently African billionaires are very generous and I’m quite popular there. Who knew?). So when I got a random email from from a genealogist named Michael (yea right!) wanting to ask me some QUESTIONS (yea, probably like my social security number. I wasn’t born yesterday Mr. Genealogist) I didn’t even read the entire email. I just hit delete and moved on. I forgot about it probably ten minutes later. Then one day about a month later, my dad sends me a strange email. He said- I got this email from a genealogist saying he got my name from your family tree on and he is asking me questions about our family. Do you think it’s legit? My immediate thought was to dismiss it until I read a little further, then my attention was caught. As I read on, it became apparent that this was no hoax or scam. I had not been on in quite some time so I quickly logged in to see and sure enough, the same genealogist had messaged me there months ago. I hadn’t seen the message so I hadn’t answered him and after hitting that dead-end he somehow found my email and tried to reach me that way. When that didn’t work, Michael the genealogist’s colleague finally reached my dad and here is what we received:

This might come as a surprise to you, but our client, Paul ____, is related to you through either your father or one of his brothers. Paul was born in 1930 in Manhattan, to Elizabeth Frances___ and an unknown father. His entire life, he has known nothing about his father because he was taken into     foster care at a young age after his mother was hospitalized. DNA testing is what led us to your grandfather, but we cannot determine through DNA which of his three sons was Paul's father. I hope very much that you will be willing to talk about this with us further, whether you have any information about this or not... I realize that this may be surprising information so we would of course be happy to answer any and all questions you have for us about what led us to you. Thanks so much in advance.

After getting hit with this bombshell we got in touch with Michael to get more information…

Because Paul wasn’t familiar with his mother, he knew absolutely nothing about his father, and so he and his daughter asked us to help piece the puzzle together for him. Using DNA testing, we found that he was a (surname) by birth, connecting him with a whole line of (surname) men using his Y-chromosome.  In fact, we worked with someone who was previously in contact with Kayla some years ago about the (surname) DNA project.  We were subsequently able to narrow it down, generation by generation, to William Austin ___ and his sons by Martha ___.  His DNA results were tested through Ancestry as well as outside organizations to make sure that everything matched with what we had found… Our dilemma is that there is no way to tell from the DNA (as it sits now) which of the three brothers is Paul’s father.  He could potentially be your half-brother or a first cousin.

Whoa! So their research and the DNA evidence led them to my dad’s grandfather and his three sons. Well because of the dates, I knew this impregnation would have transpired before my Papaw married my Mamaw and before he knew the Lord (whew, that’s a relief). But one of these three brothers was this man Paul’s father. But how could this be? My grandfather and his brothers were from the piney woods of north Louisiana. I mean rural, southern America. Most people from their area had never left the state. And New York City? How would one of these three country boys have fathered a child in the Big Apple!? There HAD to be a mistake. But DNA doesn’t lie. Then it dawned on us—our papaw had been in the Navy! As the reality of this began to hit us, we realized that it was very very possible, my dad and Aunt Linda had a brother they never knew they had, and that Cathy and I had a new uncle and a whole new set of cousins. Could it be?

Uncle Paul. 
Dad was still a little unsure so he turned it over to me to talk to the genealogist and to contact Barb, Paul’s daughter who had spearheaded this whole thing. After talking back and forth with Michael the genealogist, I got up the courage to email Barb and to let her know we were open to talking to them. They were on vacation up in the mountains and didn’t have wifi so it took a while for me to hear back from her. I was a nervous wreck waiting for her reply! Later when we finally connected, I found out that Barb had begun this process years before, and after years of dead-ends had been about to throw in the towel and to give it up when she received an email from Michael telling her that he had finally found a relative of the three brothers in question who was open to talking to them. Once Barb and I finally got in contact and began emailing back and forth I found her to be a very gracious and down to earth woman (not an African billionare lol) and I began to piece together the fascinating and sad story of her father. After being put in foster care in New York City, his mother was in and out of his life, but never would allow him to be adopted. He would become close to potential families who wanted to keep him only to be snatched out of their homes by his mother. He never was adopted. He never had one person who he belonged to, or who he could call family, except for his mother who he hardly knew. He ended up joining the Navy and then going to college, earning his degree in electrical engineering and ultimately working for Grumman Aerospace on Long Island, NY. He designed the docking radar for the lunar module for NASA’s Apollo 13 mission (the now-famous "Houston, we have a problem" mission. The lunar module ultimately saved the astronauts lives!). He married and had three children Barb, John and Paul Jr, all successful, impressive and interesting people. Could this fascinating man really be my uncle? It didn’t seem possible. But the more we all talked and compared notes it seemed highly likely that my beloved grandfather (Papaw Doc to us) was indeed Paul’s father. But the only way to find out for sure was to do a DNA test. So dad and I submitted to one (I’d always wanted to anyway) and after a couple of weeks what we already knew in our hearts was confirmed by science. Yes, Paul was my Papaw’s son, my dad’s biological brother and mine and my sister’s uncle. Wow! (And I thought our family was boring!) 

As we all got acquainted through Facebook, (stalking each others pages lol ) and emailing each other, it became clear that we needed to meet. So September of last year, we met in Pensacola, halfway between their home in Orlando and ours in north Louisiana. Barb, Jackie, Uncle Paul and John met me, my sister Cathy, Dad and Kay and Aunt Linda there. I think none of us were quite sure what to expect. I’m not sure if they expected to find themselves related to the Swamp people or not ;). And they hailed from New York City, which is about as foreign from rural Louisiana as you can get! How would we relate? What would we talk about? But I guess there is something to sharing the same DNA with people. Although we’d been raised differently, on other ends of the country from each other, we all just ‘fit’. There were no awkward silences, no uncomfortable moments. We immediately felt as if we’d known each other all our lives. It was uncanny. It felt right. Observing Uncle Paul brought back memories of my grandfather. My Papaw was known for his sense of humor, his friendliness, his warmth and his way with people. Uncle Paul had all of that. My Papaw had been my hero. My heart was broken when he died in 1976. But meeting Uncle Paul brought him back.  I think in some ways he looks more like my grandfather than my dad does and his late brother did.

It was so surreal. Hard to wrap my head around honestly. Trying to process the changes in what I thought I knew about my family. Like: my father isn’t the oldest son like we thought. Like: Cathy and I have another uncle. Like: We have three new cousins. And like: my God-fearing grandfather had a past. Although he was always larger than life to me, he was still obviously very much human. That could have been unsettling to me, but instead, it made Papaw more relatable, more real. So many thoughts in my head- was it a drunken one night stand or did he date the young woman? Did he even know her name? Did she ever try to get in touch with him? Knowing my Papaw and his character, I have to think that had he known about Uncle Paul, he would have contacted him, he would have brought him home. He would have been a part of his life. I do not believe he knew. But I bet he knows now. 

Growing up with a decent sized extended family with grandparents, first and second cousins, aunts and uncles and such I can’t imagine what it was like for my cousins to miss out on that. Or how it was for Uncle Paul, who until he married and had children, had no group of people to call family at all. Until last year they had half of their family tree completely empty and now suddenly a whole lot of new people are in their lives and those blanks in the tree are finally getting filled in. And this week for the first time in his 86 years, my Uncle Paul is in Louisiana. He and Barb and Jackie are here in our hometown and on Monday they will journey to see and to stay in the tiny community where Paul would have grown up, had Papaw known. I think of the difference in Paul and his siblings’ childhoods. Dad raised in a loving home, in a small southern town, with the creeks and woods of north Louisiana as his playground. And I think of Uncle Paul growing up alone, with nobody to call his own and none to call him their own, in the gritty streets of New York City. 

Tonight, over slices of pizza, Uncle Paul and Barb and Jackie got acquainted with my husband, my twins Hannah and Joseph, Hannah’s fiancĂ© Shane, Cathy's two girls Callie and Cate for the first time. Dad and Kay were there and we all filled up the biggest table in the joint. It was loud and crowded and chaotic and absolutely wonderful!  As we were trying to explain who belonged to who, and they tried to remember everyone’s names, Barb said something that gripped my heart. She looked around at this big table of people who a year ago had been strangers and with a big smile on her face said- “I’m related to all of these people. I’ve finally got cousins! This is my family!”

Family! We really are! And at 85 years old Paul finally found his family. And that family includes me. I feel so honored and privileged to be part of what he always longed for.  We are now all included in each others’ ‘us’ and ‘we’. Although we were raised in different worlds, it doesn’t matter. We now belong to each other. What a feeling! When we fill out Hannah’s wedding invitations, they will be listed in the ‘family’ column. And it feels natural for them to be included there. God is so good and I am so thankful.

A year ago, nobody could have convinced me this could happen to our family! But it did! And ours just got a whole lot bigger and a lot more interesting!

Uncle Paul finally meeting his Daddy.
 Family at last! Sept. 2015. Uncle Paul meeting his brother and sister for the first time. Front row L-R: Linda, Paul, Dad (Glynn), Kay. Back row L-R: John, Cathy (my sis), Barb, me and Jackie.

Uncle Paul and the cousins meeting some more of the family June 2016

May 30, 2016

Martha, Martha...

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said.
But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things,
but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42

There are some Bible stories that I've heard since childhood and I find myself not really reading them because I know them so well. Been there. Seen that. Nothing new. (Yawn) Well, I've been praying to look at the word of God as if I have never seen it before. To let go of my preconceived notions and assumptions and to see it with fresh eyes.

Well we had a good discussion about this passage of scripture about Mary and Martha yesterday and it got me looking at it again. Most of us have read this numerous times but I took another look at this old story and saw some stuff I'd never seen before. So here goes...

I always assumed in this story that Jesus was ticked at Martha. It sure would have been understandable. After all, she was pretty dang brazen to chastise the Son of God in front of everyone like that. I pictured Jesus schooling her in front of everyone. I could see the approving crowd, nodding and agreeing, “Mmmhmm, you sure told her Jesus!”.

But at the same time, although she obviously needed an attitude adjustment, to me it still didn’t seem completely fair to Martha. Anyone who’s had to fix a meal for a large group of people will understand me here. I mean, they had to eat. This is Bible times and they didn’t have microwaves or take-out. Martha’s household obviously wasn’t wealthy and they didn’t have cooks and servants, so the responsibility naturally fell to her and Mary. I always felt that it was reasonable for Martha to need some help. Despite her rude interruption, the practical side of me gets Martha’s frustration. But at the same time, the worshipper side of me also gets Mary.  My word! To have Jesus in the flesh, in my house, speaking the very words of God, I’d be like “Hold up Martha! Wait a dang minute! I can’t miss a second of this!”

Keith pointed something out that I’d never thought about with this story. Its not like Jesus went out of His way to point out that her choices were inferior to her sisters. Actually there's no indication that Jesus would have mentioned that fact at all had she not had her little outburst. But her embarrassing public tirade of, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Awkward!) simply begged for a response.  She asked for it, and she got it! “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  Perhaps He didn't mind at all that she was in the kitchen. I personally don't think He did. Maybe He planned for her and Mary to switch places later. Who knows. But what IS clear is that she started it. And He finished it. 

Actually, despite her disrespectful outburst, (I mean, she REALLY had a lot of nerve!) He didn't seem upset with her at all. His “Martha, Martha” (said twice) was indicative of endearment. Another version had Him saying, “My dear Martha”. That doesn’t sound like someone who is annoyed.  I mean, there were definitely times recorded in the Bible where Jesus WAS annoyed, where He  didn't mince words with His disciples, and rebuked them. But this isn’t one of those times. His response to her interruption of His message (just imagine interrupting Jesus!), to her frustrated complaint (how humiliating for Mary!), to her doubt about His care (that was particularly rude) and to her exasperated demand (to the Son of God no less) was gentle and understanding. Yes, He corrected her. But instead of being motivated by offense (How dare you interrupt ME, question ME, command ME), it was motivated by a love for her. She definitely needed an adjustment- but unlike how we often deliver it, Jesus didn’t adjust her to make a stand, to defend Himself, to shame her or to make His point at her expense. He adjusted her for her good. Because He loved her. 

Here's some observations I never saw before with how Jesus handled Martha.

-First He acknowledged her, speaking her name lovingly (Martha, Martha / dear Martha).
This communicated to her: I know you. I see you. I love you and you are very valuable to Me.

-Then He identified her issue (You are worried and upset/ distracted with many things).
     She was worried. Her worry pointed to a struggle with fear, a difficulty with trusting. It’s really hard to worry and to trust at the same time. (Believe me, I know!).
    She was also upset. Her accusatory “Don’t you care?”, indicated hurt and bitterness and a misunderstanding of Jesus’ actions (or inaction) on her behalf. Perhaps some pain from her past caused her to default to offense, assuming the worst about Him. We don't know. But Jesus looked past the rudeness, saw the wounded heart and dealt gently with her.
    She was distracted. So she wasn’t focused. She was overwhelmed with many things. They weren’t evil, sinful things. They were actually necessary things. But all the things consumed her focus and caused her to lose sight of Him.

-Then in one phrase, He narrowed down for her (and us) what mattered most to Him.  (But only one thing is needed). This is huge people. If we’re honest we’ll admit that there’s a whole lot in the Bible that makes us scratch our heads; things that aren’t that clear, that are interpreted a million different ways by a million different people. There are so many facets to God and so many different aspects to His word that it’s often hard to know where to start, what to focus on first or what to emphasize most. It frankly can be overwhelming. But despite this, there ARE those times when He is clear, when He doesn’t speak in parables or mysteries, where He’s obvious and to the point and it cannot be left up to interpretation. And right here, with Martha, is one of those times. He revealed to her, the most important thing to Him. Just ONE THING is needed. And what was that? It wasn’t another chore to do, another law to keep, another sin to repent of.  So what matters most to Him? Simply put, He wants to have a relationship with us. That’s all He wanted from Martha. He was fine with her cooking and preparing. That wasn’t the point. She had opened her home to Him and was trying to honor Him in her own way and I know He appreciated that. But the point of her hard work had been lost somewhere in the preparations. She’d lost sight of the purpose of her labor- to be with Him. It wasn’t even about what she and Mary were doing, it was about their heart’s focus.

-Despite His love and appreciation for Martha’s hard work, He wasn’t going to do to Mary as her sister requested. (And Mary chose what is better. And it will not be taken away from her). Mary was locked in on Him, connecting to Him and He wasn’t going to allow her to be pulled her away from Him. He wouldn't agree to prioritizing work over worship. Although He wasn’t offended at Martha’s rudeness to Him, He still didn’t totally let her off the hook concerning her treatment of her sister. His acknowledgment and elevation of Mary and her superior choice restored her honor after she’d been rudely humiliated by her sister in front of all the guests. Yes, He loved Martha and was gentle with her in His correction. But He also loved Mary. Mistreating God’s other children does not go unnoticed or undealt with. He is just, after all.

There’s a lot more that can be learned from this story and I may revisit this at some point with more thoughts on the matter. But for now I’ll leave you with this simple summary of what I learned.

  • ·      God values every person. Even the rude, embittered Marthas in the world. He usually doesn’t respond to people like we probably would (thank heavens!) because He sees the whole story. And despite a persons behavior, sometimes kindness is really what they need.
  • ·      When He deals with us He cuts through what we think the issue is and gets to the heart of the matter.  Martha thought her sister was the problem. Jesus knew better.
  • ·      Jesus doesn’t get offended when we voice our frustration to Him. He knows it anyway so we might as well be honest.
  • ·      However, He isn’t pleased with us letting off steam at another’s expense. He will not let us get away with that. No more than I would have let one of my kids when they were little mistreat their brother or sister. I loved them all the same, but when that happened, it wasn’t tolerated.
  • ·      The end game of all ministry, is simply- Jesus. To know Him and to make Him known. But sometimes, that focus can be lost in all of the activity of what needs to get done. When I led worship, there were many necessary preparations- from rehearsal to sound checks- before the worship service. And I admit there were times that I got so busy and overwhelmed with the preparations that I forgot to worship. Jesus still anointed and used me. He wasn’t mad at me during those times. But I am the one who missed out. It'd be like when my out-of-town kids come to visit. If I was too busy cooking and cleaning for them (to bless them no less), to spend any quality time with them, I’d have a lot of regrets once they were gone and I'd be pretty sad. When they are home for a visit, we’ll order pizza if necessary. Because all of our attention is on them. And that’s all Jesus wants too. 
      So there. That’s what I got out of the tired old story of Mary and Martha Martha ;). What’s true for them is true for us. One thing only is needed: Relationship. Period. Amen