Last week a godly older woman asked me to pray for her. She was in tears because she felt so guilty about being “a Martha” – working from morning til night to serve her household, including children and grandchildren. We had been considering the need for sitting at Jesus’ feet, like Mary did, listening to His words, choosing the better part… That is so hard for some of us to do!
I am always on Martha’s side here! ‘Jesus loved Martha’ (John 11v5) and His rebuke to her when she demanded that Mary help her was in no way a condemnation, but rather some very good advice about not trying to make other people do what we think they should do! We are to give what is in our hearts to give, ‘not reluctantly or under compulsion’ (2 Corinthians 9v7). Martha in her busyness in serving had a choice to make, as we all do when we decide to take something on – but not the right to make someone else’s choices for her. Remember Jesus saying to Peter when he asked what would happen to John, “What is that to you? You must follow me!” (John 21v22)?
The woman I was praying with has some choices to make too, about where her boundaries are and where her responsibilities lie in her household: that little word ‘No’ might prove useful! Clearly the ‘woman running the household’ type has as many expectations and demands on her today as in Jesus’ time! If you think Proverbs 31 is a prototype for the best possible wife, think again: there is no way we wives can match up to that entire list of expectations… No wonder her husband gets to sit at the city gate chatting with the other men: there is nothing left for him to do! (Proverbs 31v23). It was liberating when a couple of years ago I heard a man say all this, adding: “No, its a list of all the things you CAN do, you have freedom to do – so be free and not tied in by false ‘shoulds’!”
There is no way one personality type is superior to another. Martha and Mary are the female equivalents of the disciples Peter and John: it was Martha who made the same declaration Peter did, ‘You are the Christ!’ (John 11v27), while Mary sat mourning at home. Both Peter/Martha and John/Mary personalities have strengths and weaknesses: we need the activists as well as the quiet, meditative ones!
However we are called to live out of rest: I have written about this before in the post I’m waiting here. And it has been a long journey for me to begin to put it into practice… Way back in the early 90’s I asked a well-known prophet HOW I could get into the destiny he had prophesied over me, WHAT I should do, invest in, work on? His wise response was “Strive to enter rest”. It is the only thing we are supposed to strive for!
“There remains then a Sabbath rest for the people of God: for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest... ” Hebrews 3v9-11. As we live out of that rest we carry His easy yoke and the things we do come out of peace and His anointing, not our own efforts. I work, God rests: I rest, God works!
Martin found a lovely scripture this weekend, the blessing spoken over Asher in Deuteronomy 33v24-25:
“Most blessed of sons is Asher; let him be favoured by his brothers, and let him bathe his feet in oil. The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze and your strength will equal your days”.
What a beautiful picture of ease and refreshment. Oil was used for anointing heads, not washing feet! So this speaks of an abundance of grace and of walking in the anointing of the Spirit, leaving ‘oily, fragrant footprints’. As a result of that he knows security, protection and strength throughout his life. Jesus’ fulfilled this when his feet were anointed with perfume by Mary of Bethany – so there is the connection with the place of intimacy and worship in the house of the two sisters (John 12v3) 🙂
Entering rest is about waiting in His presence. It is about choosing the passive role instead of always being active: I also wrote about this in Active or Passive. Its about surrender, humility and trust and not trying to make things happen. My friend Steve has also blogged extensively about ‘The Waiting Room’ and being silent over the last few weeks, a journey of disempowerment, but also of finding new peace and perspective.
When we are arRESTed it can feel like being put in a prison cell! But it is so important that we sit under the hand of God, waiting for His timing, submitting to His control. In waiting on the Lord we are renewing our strength to mount up again (Isaiah 40v31).
Hebrews 3 talks about the disobedience of Israel and links that with the consequence of not being allowed to enter rest. In contrast we are called to soften our hearts to His word, to listen and make space for it, give time to it, yield to it – obey it. Sabbath is about dependance on Him, rather than our own efforts. It is a gift from our Father that re-sets our priorities and takes the stress out of life – not just a rule that means you can’t do what you want to do one day a week! (Quite the opposite, as I will discuss tomorrow!)
Have you been arRESTed? Its a different way to live.