If you know me, you know that I like to work. You know I like to fill up my schedule to maximize time and get the most work done I can. Whether that is going to school and working or working two jobs and planning mission trips in the summers, I’d rather be doing something than nothing. Free time has been nearly nonexistent in my life for years, and I was just fine with that reality.
Then I moved to Guatemala. The work, work, work mentality that I had continued, and I worked, worked, worked. I was normally one of the first (if not the first) to get up and the last to go to sleep. During the team’s free days, I would spend the day cleaning and cooking for the team. I pushed myself to do the most I could. Because in my mind I thought, “People are paying me to be here. I can’t let them down,” and “If people see me resting, they will think I am lazy.” So for about two months, I didn’t have a day off. And as you can guess, I was emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted. My busy schedule often didn’t even leave room for alone time with God, and when it did I felt guilty that I wasn’t working.
When I moved into my own apartment and started working with Pastor Rony, I was in charge of making my own schedule. He and many others stressed the importance of a complete day off weekly to me, and I agreed that I needed that. But my work, work, work mentality was still there, and to this day, I still feel a sense of guilt when I have time off. But why, I asked myself. Where is this guilt coming from?
Part of it comes from the fact that I see people here daily that work 12 hour days, 7 days a week to provide for their families. I see supporters back home who are sacrificing in order for me to be here. I think about the overwhelming amount of needs in this community, both spiritual and physical. I think about all the work that needs to get done. And lastly, I don’t want to let God down.
And then I think about the story of Mary and Martha. And I realize that I am 100% Martha.
“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.'” (Luke 10:38 to 42)
This story always used to bother me as a kid. I used to think, you mean to tell me that Martha is working so hard and Mary is just sitting there and Jesus praises Mary???? What?! Martha is just trying to get everything ready. She is working hard, and Mary, Mary isn’t doing anything! What am I missing?
I am missing what is important. If I work, work, work, but am not being filled up with the love of Christ, what will be my fruit? If I focus on the details, will Christ be seen in me? If I don’t give my body time to relax and time for my soul to be restored, what will people see in me? Will they see joy? Will they see Christ? Or will they see a weak, tired, and unhappy person?
Mary realized the reality of her situation. She realized that Jesus, her savior, was right in front of her. She realized how precious the moment was. I, like Martha, need to realize how much Christ wants us to rest in his presence, to absorb his love and his teaching. I need to remember that if I want to show the love of Christ to others, I first need the time to be filled with his presence. I need time to listen to his voice. I need time to read his word. I need time to worship in his presence. Those things are more important to God than “all these details.”
I pray and hope that I can become more like Mary, to realize the God of the universe is waiting for us to spend time in his presence.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28 to 30)