Becoming Mary in a Martha World

Today I visited a friend.IMG_0642

I dropped my daughter off to ride horses and ambled through country roads under marshmallow studded cerulean skies. Pastures rolled across the landscape embellished with the white arches of raspberry tenting. One ribbon of road cut through apple orchards stretched out towards a quaint farm house. Crisp spring air blew through my open sun roof whipping my hair.

Ah, the delightful beauty of the day.

In that moment, I savored the presence of the Lord in the wonder of his creation. Yes, I was on my way to a particular place for a planned reason. I drove my car.  But for that short span of ten minutes, I was being not doing. No emails overflowing my inbox, no Facebook poking me with notifications, no cell phone beeping, buzzing or sending me alarms for my next activity. The superhighway fast lane sped to various destinations five miles away from my peaceful world.

In cherishing this space, I longed for a simpler life.

Outside pressures of job, kid’s sports, church activities and social media clamor for our attention. The world’s technology has caused our tight knit communities to welcome the world. On one hand, that’s great. I’ve many blogging, Twitter and Facebook friends and connections that I am thrilled to have because of that technology. On the other hand, I don’t have the capacity to hold the world in my heart or hands. I don’t think anyone does. And I’m not so sure God asks us to. So what do we do with the needs, demands, and interests of the world?

Internal pressures abound as well.

We use busyness as an escape. Insecurity drives us to be responsible and in control of every situation. Legalism reminds us of all the shoulds and should nots. Expectations, perceived or actual, command us to do more, do better, achieve at any cost to claim success and abundant life. Performance driven, we jump through hoops to prove we are worthy of God’s love and others’ favor.

But Jesus calls us to sit at his feet.

And go into the world making disciples. Can those two realities co-exist? This week I read the story of the good Samaritan. I believe I saw the simplicity of being in the presence of Jesus as the Samaritan man reached out to be the “church” to his neighbor. This dear man traveled along attending to whatever business was at hand for him. Maybe he was headed to work, or a friend’s house.  Or on his way to worship. Perhaps he was enjoying his journey simply for its own sake.

But he was open to interruption. Jesus calling.

Willing to give a bit of his time and some of his resources, he cared for a wounded fellow traveler and went on his way. He also made a point to check back to follow up on the man’s well-being. It didn’t seem an inconvenience to him nor a new project to seek out every hurting person in the country. He simply helped someone in need who happened to cross his path – or rather whose path he crossed during his everyday life.

Am I going to or “doing” church, or am I being the church?

Am I running around like Martha so concerned about getting everything done, checked off, accomplished, worked out, served, made, corrected, or controlled? Or can I sit at Jesus’ feet soaking up his love, grace, mercy and wisdom – the peace of his presence? Not only in my life circumstances, but in the posture of my heart.

These are questions I’ve been asking myself.

While I don’t read this version often, I kind of like how The Message puts it in Micah 6:8:

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
    what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
    be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
    take God seriously.

Mary had it right.

She didn’t escape or neglect her life, but she knew the best place to be was at Jesus’ feet. And Jesus commended her not for all her activities or service or community projects, but for being with him. Isn’t that why we were created?

How about you? Are you able to sit with Jesus? What kind of external or internal demands drive you?

Yearning for Physical Touch

I’m delighted to offer another excerpt of Brendan’s this week. For those of you enjoying his perspective on our story…

It seems that the online dating experience reverses the process of any other type of situation in which two people get together.

Ordinarily a couple might see each other across a room (visual stimulation) and say hello while shaking hands. They might exchange a very light embrace, and perhaps dance, if the meeting is at such a venue. Then phone calls follow (voice attraction and deepening relationship), and finally some sort of writing such as email, texts and possibly, although rare these days, letters (a deeper communication after deciding how to accurately express thoughts).

But we had done it the opposite way.

Deep affection for each other was the result, and caused us to yearn for physical touch. It was time for Laura to come to Australia for a couple of weeks.

I felt a bit awkward about how to handle the visit. What if she got here and one of us didn’t like the other up close? It could be the longest, most uncomfortable three weeks of our lives. The thought occurred to me that despite our interaction over the last few months, Laura might be anxious about meeting me. After all I could be a serial killer or an assassin. I had already told her I was an international spy wanted by the CIA, Interpol, The Kremlin, MI5 and Neighborhood Watch, notorious and wanted for parking in disabled car spaces all over the world.

She merely laughed.

My solution, given me by God, was to also invite Laura’s youngest daughter, Ashley. Laura accepted and was delighted with the prospect of having her beloved daughter travel with her to meet me and my kids, be moral support and, dare I say it, chaperone us. That would make it less awkward at least for Laura, but God was looking out for Ashley as well. As the youngest of Laura’s four children, she found our situation rather trying for her to embrace given that her mother was interested in someone that could cause Mom to leave home. The well received solution created a good situation for Laura and Ashley.

Plans for travel to Australia began.

Excerpts Continued…

     Brendan “winked” (like a Facebook Poke) at me a few days later. Ok, six to be precise. And yes, I did count. I was sitting in my favorite chair in my bedroom/office, and Carol was working at our desk. I saw the “wink,” a computer generated standard email that indicates someone’s interest without them writing anything personal, come up and I caught my breath. Up until that time, I had ignored most winks feeling that if someone was actually interested in me they could go beyond that easily pressed button and send a more personal, if even brief note. But when I saw that the wink was from the Australian man, my heart flipped and tears came to my eyes. Oh my gosh, Lord, could this be the one? I thought. Really?! And it may seem corny and overly sentimentally romantic, but I knew somewhere deep in my being, albeit not concretely, that he was. Chills spread over my body. My amazement, excitement and tears prevented me from responding immediately.

“Oh my gosh, Carol. I don’t know what to write. What do I write? I can’t believe this. Really? Oh my gosh. What do I say? I can’t believe I’m crying,” I pestered Carol, feeling dazed and speechless.

“Just be yourself, Laura,” the ever practical Carol replied with a calm, knowing smile.

“Right.” Easy for you to say when I have just received a WINK from this amazing Australian man. A WINK for goodness sake! A wink suddenly taking on an entirely different meaning for me.

I deliberated for quite a while; actually until I became nervous that unless I responded soon, he would think me disinterested. (This was of course before I had counted the difference in time zone hours and realized he was probably asleep.)  Finally, my ‘brief’ (no less than a page) email was ready after numerous edits and rewrites. I hit the send button with a quick prayer something like, “Here goes Lord. Please do what you want with this,” and away it flew into cyberspace, my whole future clinging to its back, resting within its words and God’s hands.