I dug this post out of the archives of my old Tumblr! It is amazing how we change over time – and how we don’t. I still find myself avoiding Jesus with the things I do. Life gets busy. It’s usually not conscious. I just make my calendar really full. And my to-do list too. And then I fill in the spaces with entertainment or social media, and the more I fill up my brain with other stuff, the harder it is to connect with God. It’s not a hopeless cause…and it isn’t even that God doesn’t want me to do things. But if you’re wired like me, you probably need to read this post.
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Martha is So Busy Serving Jesus that She is Avoiding Jesus
Martha is actively serving Jesus, but she is missing Jesus. She is busy in the “doing” of life. Her life is filled with ‘shoulds’ and ‘have tos.’ Her life is fragmented, pressured, and filled with distractions. Martha’s problem goes beyond her busyness. Her life is uncentered and divided. Her inner person is touchy, irritable, and anxious. One of the surest signs of her life being out of order is that she even tells God what to do! (49) Describe a time when you used your work responsibilities or social obligations to avoid Jesus.
(From our small group outline and Emotionally Healthy Spirituality)
Ouch. I’ve always been a Martha. Something I struggle with, and recognize, and ask people to pray for. Other people see it in me. Its easy, when church is your “job,” to get so caught up in doing the church that you don’t make time for God. You think “I’m doing it for him, doesn’t that count?” That’s what Martha thought too. She wasn’t intentionally avoiding Jesus. She was just trying to get stuff done. For him. Because she loved him.
Acts of Service is one of my love languages. When I want to show you I care, especially if words don’t seem appropriate or enough, I cook. I clean. I give a ride, I watch your kids, I take something off of your to-do list. I’m sure Martha felt the same way. She was showing Jesus love in the way she knew best.
I want to show you my love, but I also want you to notice me, to like me, to recognize me. I want you to praise me and tell me what a good job I did. I want to know that I did something right. Because see, one of my other primary love languages, the one I rarely admit to, is words of affirmation. I’m so desperate to hear your approval, your praise. Daddy, look what I did! But I can’t, won’t, tell you how much I need to be loved this way.
And I can’t show you my love that way. Because words are dangerous. Words can be taken the wrong way. Or maybe I don’t want to be that vulnerable with you, or don’t want you to know that about me, words can make things awkward. Words show weakness. Waiting makes us vulnerable.
So instead, we start avoiding Jesus with the things we do.
So I do things, more and more because service is safe. I can pour myself into serving you, serving God, because people don’t take it the wrong way, because then I can love you without telling you, without risking my heart and my pride. And maybe you’ll see what I did, you’ll give me those words I pretend I don’t need to hear. “We have an amazing babysitter.” “Thanks so much for cooking, Joy! This is great!” “thanks for taking care of that, I really appreciate it!” And maybe I can pretend your words are enough, or that you mean them in the way I need you to mean them. I so desperately need to hear God say “good job! Well done! I’m proud of you! I love you!”
But when you really love someone, you should show them love the way they want and need to be loved, not just the way you do. Anything else is selfish. I’m sure God speaks every love language (he created them, after all), but if the Mary and Martha story is any indication, quality time ranks pretty high on the list.
I remember an old relationship: I really struggled because quality time was really important to me, but meant very little to him. Every time we talked on the phone, I would lose his attention, and realize that he was watching TV, or playing video games, or reading or messing around on the computer. I would be really hurt to realize this because I felt like the TV or whatever was more important than me, like I wasn’t worth setting aside even 5 minutes of his undivided attention to talk to me without distractions. Like I wasn’t enough.
Is that how God feels when I talk to him?
Like I keep zoning out in the middle of the conversation, like I can’t keep focused on him for just a few minutes? Like he’s not important enough for me to just be with him, without thinking about or doing other things?
“No way!” I think. How could that be, when most of the distractions are things that I’m doing for him? Besides, he created me in a way that shows love through service! But in the story of Mary and Martha, he says that this quality time with him is better than all the things I do. I love that you serve me, but don’t use it to avoid me! I love that you serve me, but I want you to be with me! Why is it important for people to spend quality time with you, but you won’t spend quality time with me, even when quality time means so much to you?
[click_to_tweet tweet=”But in the story of Mary and Martha, he says that this quality time with him is better than all the things I do. – @RealWorldBible” quote=”But in the story of Mary and Martha, he says that this quality time with him is better than all the things I do.”]
Why am I avoiding Jesus?
Why do I avoid you, God? Is what I “need” to do that important? The way to get your approval is to sit at your feet. Then you will fill me up so much that I can’t help but get up and go do your work, I can’t help but serve you because I am so full of you, overflowing with love for you and a desire to serve you, to love you the way you made me to love. But all I need to do to hear you say “well done, you did the right thing, good job, I’m proud of you” is to sit close enough and quiet enough to hear it.
Are you avoiding Jesus too sometimes?
Let me know in the comments below. Better yet, try to make some time to sit at his feet, and let us know the outcome!
If you want more of sitting at Jesus’ feet, check out my free Sabbath e-book, For All Who Are Weary!