Martha, Martha, Martha!

There is a book called Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World written by Joanna Waver. I own it but have never read it. I think I have pulled it out a couple of times. I usually decide on something else instead. What made me think about this book was this past Easter Weekend. This year we had a fundraiser to send out kids to youth this summer. We took orders for eggs, filled with candy, to be delivered the night before Easter. We ended up with an order of two thousand eggs and twenty nine houses to go to. Awesome! With only a few hiccups…a shortage of plastic eggs in the city and having to find four hundred eggs on Friday, my son being directional challenged and took him way longer than it should to do the houses on his route, and that one of my youth thought it would be funny to do some prank eggs (teenage boys). It went great and we did not have to wash cars!!

On top of this fundraiser I am also helping to plan a Girls Night In and Guys Night Out event. The ladies are coming to my house to watch Joyce Meyer’s Girls Night In and the guys are going to go axe throwing and dinner together. Sounds fun right! Remember my last post that I usually like to know the answers to questions that people are going to ask me. So I became a little overwhelmed.

Then there is Easter Service. We had a regular church service with communion. I just could not bring myself to plan an after fellowship event. I did not plan anything special for the kids. We had a new song prepared and that was just all I could bring myself to do. You see, this Martha World is exhausting. Not because I want to be Martha, but sometimes it seems that is all people see me as. I do not want to plan everything! I do not want to do the order of service, but I do it because people have come to depend on me to do it. I do it because I have been told, you are the only one who can. Why is that?

I long to have people come up beside me and train them up to do the things that I do. I long to mentor those that are in awe of how much I am able to accomplish. Jesus sent His disciples out two by two (Luke 10:1-23). They went out and reported, He did not micromanage. He sent them out and was able to trust that they were doing what He sent them out to do. I long to be able to lead like that!

Do not get me wrong, I love serving! If I did not have anything to do I would probably go nuts. Sometimes I ask myself, “Amanda, are you doing too much?” “If you did not do it, is it really necessary?”

Before service Sunday I prepared a large meal for my family for when we got home. It was their favorite…schnitzel and spaetzle with peas and deviled eggs. All made from scratch. The only thing I had to do when we got home was make the jager gravy, because you know gravy will get congealed if it gets cold. We ate our Easter dinner together. I washed the dishes, cleaned up the kitchen and then go rest on the couch. Rest means I fell asleep. I slept hard! Finally allowing myself to relax, I slept nearly twelve hours that night (getting myself up and going to my own bed a few hours in).

On top of Easter functions that weekend we also had small group and a family gathering on the same day. I volunteered to buy and bring one of the main parts of the family dinner. That took some planning. Plans for Saturday was orchestrated to fit everything in (pick up crawfish, help in the garden at small group, get to my mother’s, drive back home and finish plans for egg deliveries, execute plan when time came). I had to take a forty five minute power nap Saturday too.

Sunday morning I wake up from a nightmare. I had been ridiculed in front of the church for orchestrating too much, planning too much. I just felt a heaviness in my heart, I did not ask for this. Have you ever felt that way? God, I did not ask for this? I thought I was doing this because you wanted me to. I felt like Martha when she went to Jesus to tell Mary to help her (Luke 10:38-42). I had to think on this. God created Martha will a love language that was different than Mary’s. Martha’s was acts of service and it frustrated her to see her sister not having the same love language as her. I realized the way I show love is also acts of service. I was probably running on empty and not receiving mine because I was pouring out so much (check out Gary Chapman’s books on the Five Love Languages).

Then I am reminded of a special moment that Jesus and Martha had after Lazarus had died. She ran out of the house to meet Him on the road and they had this exchange in John 11:21-26 (AMP), Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.  Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give to You.Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise [from the dead].”  Martha replied, “I know that he will rise [from the dead] in the resurrection on the last day.”  Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, relies on) Me [as Savior] will live even if he dies; and everyone who lives and believes in Me [as Savior] will never die. Do you believe this?”

I have conversations like Martha did right here with Jesus. I am usually in the midst of doing something and talking to Him. This is when I receive deep revelation from the Word that I had been mediating on, or a question that has been on my mind. One of Jesus’ “I AM” statements was revealed to Martha!

I am continuing to pray that I let things go. I am praying for God to send the helpers and if the helpers are there to allow my eyes to be opened to not limit their abilities. I get too caught up in not wanting people to think I am taking advantage of them. I need to give them the ability to be blessed by putting their hands to the work of the ministry. It is okay that I am a Martha, because He still talks to us Martha’s even in the midst of us serving. The qualities we see in Martha we also see in Rebekah, Ruth and the Proverbs 31 woman, so I am in good company.

Who do you relate to more, Martha or Mary? I am comforted to know that God created me with a special way I show Him love. There is nothing wrong with it and not everyone will understand it. My love tank was just running a little on empty. I had to get close to the source again (John 15).

Imperfect is not failure

As I was reading this week I came across in my studies stories of people that Jesus had a personal relationship with. We read of the twelve disciples, of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, and of the countless people He fellowshipped with over meals. What would it be like to have that ability to have that close contact with Jesus? That is what I look for when I read my Word.

What really stood out to me what that none of them were perfect people. They all had some sort of flaw. There are some very notable flaws that we refer to like ‘Doubting Thomas’, ‘Workaholic Martha’, ‘Peter the Denier’, ‘Saul the Persecutor’…kind of sounds like the labels we put on people that have flaws. Why do we label people with their flaws? I talk out of someone who has done the same thing. I have labeled people as ‘Negative Nellie’ or ‘Mouth of the South’. I am not proud of it and had to come this week with a repentive heart.

Doubting Thomas was a man that loved Jesus. He asked questions, that Jesus happily answered. Thomas received deep revelation from the mouth of Jesus. John 14:5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” The response of Jesus is what we have laid much our of Christian foundation on, the importance of Jesus being the only way… (verse 6) Jesus said to him, “I am the the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” We might refer to him as ‘Doubting Thomas’, but Jesus thought He was the perfect person to reveal this revelation to personally.

What about Martha? Martha is the sister of Mary and Lazarus. This was a very dear family to Jesus. He showed great love to them as revealed in the writings of John (John 11:5). We read the story of when Jesus comes to the house, Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus and Martha wants Jesus to tell Mary to help her. Jesus tells her that Mary is do the most important thing (Luke 10:38-42). Could you just feel pride swell up inside of you if you were corrected instead of getting your way? I know I have that flaw myself. Then we get to Lazarus dying. Jesus knew he was sick but did not come right away (John 11:6), but He did come.

John 11:20-27 Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would have died.” A lot of people like to stop here and take this conversation out of context to prove the heart of Martha, that she liked to scold, but read further. “But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is it to come into the world.”

Another amazing foundational statement made to someone so very ordinary, someone we have seen have flaws. She received such a revelation that we stand on to this day. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. She received this because she knew who Jesus was personally. Although she knew Him in a way we could never know. She did not just know Him as a person, she knew Him as Lord, and that is how we know Him.

Why is this so important? Let’s look at Peter. Remember, he was the one who denied Jesus three times. He had flaws, but that did not mean he did not have revelation knowledge. Jesus would often test his disciples knowledge in forms of questions or in actions. There was the time He fed the 5000, when He walked on water, when He slept during the storm, when He healed, etc. Here is a time He wanted to know what they knew about Him personally. Matthew 16:13-15 When Jesus came into the region of Caesara Philippi, He asked the disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I , the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said t them, “But who do you said that I am?” Some great answers right? None of which were true, but they sounded good.

Matthew 16:16-18 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” On this revelation knowledge, Jesus the Son of the living God, is the foundation for the church. There is a difference between head knowledge and revelation knowledge. Until we seek Jesus on a personal level, all we will have is head knowledge. Things we say can sound good, but we really do not take it to heart to transform us.

There is grace in our flaws. Now I want to be clear that grace does not give us permission to stay in our flaws. Grace is not a free pass to do as we please, to not have consequences and not to be disciplined. Grace is there for when I need Him most. I have used these verses before with the words of Paul: Romans 7:18-24 (MSG) But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I ca will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in the delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

Have you ever felt that way? I know I do sometimes. I mess up and say harsh words. I watch a movie that I should not have watched with my kids. I put off an assignment until the last minute (like this blog, I just could not bring myself to write yesterday). Paul is not saying that we should surrender to living in constant defeat of our flaws. The enemy wants us to look at our imperfections as failures. What he is doing is expressing frustration. His words demonstrate that he longs to be free from those imperfections. Let’s look at the next verse (verse 25 in the Message translation), The answer, that God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

The enemy wants us to look at our imperfections as failures.

This is grace. Jesus can and does. Through this revelation knowledge Paul (as we do) has the energy to keep going. He did not just give into his sin, the influence of sin, he stood on the revelation knowledge of who Jesus is. Paul wanted to serve God with all of his heart and mind. He desired it. I believe that Martha, Thomas and Peter desired that as well. We may know them by their flaws, but He does not. People may remember you by your flaws, you may still be labeled by them. Do not give up hope. Jesus knows, but Jesus does. He is the resurrection and the life. He is the way, truth and the life. He is the Son of the living God. Nothing can separate us from that knowledge. Ground yourself in those words. Do not give up. You are not a failure just because of your imperfections. It just means we have a greater opportunity to have deeper revelation knowledge. To have more of a personal relationship with Jesus.