Friday, May 25, 2012

Putting Jesus in a Box

I was just sitting here reading my Grace for the Good Girl book when I had an epiphany. I have decided that there are things that are worthy of God’s involvement and things that are not. 

The passage that brought this to light is about Mary and Martha and how Martha so busy doing all the things that needed to be done that she missed Jesus. The Savior of all mankind was in her living room and she was all wrapped up in making sure everyone got fed and was comfortable in her home.

This is how it reads in the New International Version of the Bible:

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 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!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-41

Here is how Emily Freeman says it: “Martha put natural limitations on a supernatural God. There were people in her home who were hungry and needed to eat. It wouldn’t be right to let them starve. Perhaps she placed her interpretation of what the people needed above the Lord’s. In her eyes, they needed food. Her knowledge of what happens when people get hungry outweighed her ability to imagine the impossible. She potentially missed out on watching a miracle because she was depending on herself to feed the people.”

Martha put Jesus in a box. She decided that if his visit to her home was going to be successful, she would have to make sure that it went well. She thought that Jesus was too important to concern himself with the mundane things, like seeing to the physical needs of the people, so she jumped in and tried to handle it all herself.

But, we know from The Feeding of the Five Thousand (Luke 9:10-17) and The Feeding of the Four Thousand (Mark 8:1-10) that Jesus was aware of the physical needs of his people and knew how to handle them.

Martha got so overwhelmed with all that needed to be done that she complained to Jesus and asked him to make her sister, Mary, get up and help her. She realized there was more to be done than she could do herself, but even at that point, she didn’t ask Jesus what she should do or ask for his help. She told him what the solution was. She said, “Make my sister help me!”

I wonder how the scene would have changed if she had said, “Jesus, all these people are hungry, what should we do?” Maybe everyone would have gotten up and worked together to make a meal. Maybe Jesus himself would have gone to the kitchen and created dinner for them, crafting a parable in the process. We will never know because Martha didn’t ask that question.

In my last post I admitted to my less-than-stellar housekeeping skills and how that has affected my comfort about inviting people to my home. What God just showed me this evening is that somewhere along the way I decided that it is all up to me to keep my home clean and organized, and God has nothing do do with it. It’s up to me to get it done, therefore my inability to do it to my own satisfaction has become a source of great shame in my life. I’ve gotten frustrated that other people (my family) haven’t helped enough, and I’ve complained about the situation. I’ve developed chores schedules and calendars for when things should be done. I’ve set up a reward system to encourage (bribe) my kids to do more chores. None of these things worked. Not once, though, have I asked God to help me with it. It never even occurred to me.

I’ve gotten better at relying on God in the crisis times. I’m learning to rely on him to meet our financial needs, because I know for sure that I can’t do that on my own. I take my concerns about parenting my children to him. The every day tasks, though, why would I rely on God for those? I can handle it. I’m supposed to be able to handle it!

Obviously I can’t, though. If I could, my living room floor would not be the hazardous obstacle course of toys, backpacks, last night’s pajamas, soccer balls and hula hoops that it is every day.

So, I think I am going to try a new tactic. I’m going to ask God to help me get my home cleaned up and organized. I’m going to take the problem to Jesus, and instead of telling him what the answer should be, I’ll see what kind of solution he can provide me.

What do you think? Do you think that God cares about things like daily chores? Do you have certain things in your life that you have designated as “my job” and others that are “God’s job”? Are there things in your life that you should ask him to help you with that you have considered to be too small or mundane for him to care about or have a solution for?

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