Monday, July 30, 2018
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
I grew up in a pastor’s home, and entertaining people was a big part of my dad’s ministry. I especially remember the holiday open house my mom would put on every Christmas. Everyone in the church was invited to a huge spread of Christmas goodies. The house would be decorated to the max and all the best silver and china was used. The old antique dining table was spread out to its full length and every inch of it was covered with platters of cookies or salads or hardtack with meat and cheese. Mom had spent hours, for days, getting everything ready. She put her best efforts into using her spiritual gift of hospitality.
A few weeks before my mom became bedridden with cancer, we went to visit her. We made it clear that when we came we would take care of all of the meals and any other household chores. But when we arrived she had already thought through all the meals and prepared several of them in advance. She was still fulfilling her God-given role as caregiver and the servant of others. It was a role that satisfied her. It was how the Holy Spirit had gifted her. She loved her ministry to people.
There is a story in the life of Jesus of a woman who begged for help with hospitality. It is found in Luke 10.
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.”
My mom would never do that. She never begged for help like Martha. In fact, she usually made sure she was so well organized that others could relax and enjoy what they wanted to do. Unlike Martha, she truly thought about what was best for others.
On a later visit, when mom was bedridden, she was still managing to have input into the kitchen from the bedroom. Dad had run out of coffee, and a new can needed to be opened. He was having trouble with the electric can opener because the can was so large. I tried to help him, but I couldn’t get it to work right either, so I ended up using an antique can opener that pried open the lid with a sharp edge. Suddenly my wife appears in the kitchen and says, “Mom said she’s the only one that can open the coffee cans. You have to bring the can opener to the edge of the counter and let the can hang over the edge to release the pressure on the blade and then it will work.” Mom was still taking care of us.
We noticed a transition in her during those last weeks of her life. She was becoming much more like Mary. She stopped asking about the laundry and the meal preparation. She no longer wondered whether the things she put in the freezer for meals were being used. She wasn’t concerned with the dusting and the vacuuming of the house. She didn’t even ask about her flower garden, which she loved to care for. She spent those last weeks simply sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to what He was saying to her. I know that her physical condition forced her into that situation, but you must also understand that my mom always took time to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him. Now she was doing it continuously.
There is a huge lesson in this for those of us who are so busy with the details of our lives. Like Martha we are distracted from spending time with God by the work we want to be doing for God. It becomes so serious for some of us that we beg for others to help us with the work just so we can do more work. The work itself may be necessary, it may be spiritual, and it may be an expression of our spiritual gifts, but if it hinders the personal time spent in intimate fellowship with Jesus, then it is not the best thing we could be doing. Sitting at the feet of Jesus is the best thing!
Stop fretting about the details. Stop worrying about the outcomes. Don’t get anxious about what others are doing or not doing. Lighten up and let it go! Give it all to Jesus with thanksgiving that He can and will manage the outcome. Then sit down for a while and listen to Jesus. You’ll be amazed at how everything takes on a new perspective and how much more productive you will be. And make sure its quality time that produces intimacy. I know the temptation to sit down to have devotions and just quickly skim an article in Our Daily Bread or lightly read this devotional. In both cases you probably skipped right over the Scripture readings. What was really on your mind was the next task you had on your to-do list. Come on, sit down at the feet of Jesus and forget everything except what He is going to teach you. Listen to Him, and let it transform you. Fall in love with your time with Him. Make it your priority every day. It is the better thing to do. It will strengthen you for the work you must do and it will stifle the worry you don’t want to do.