It’s been a challenging couple of months.
The reasons are unimportant. They are “light and momentary” in the grand scheme of things, I suppose. And, probably, for many of those reasons, the fault lies with me. Not all. Definitely some.
And, as I am prone to do, I have managed to couple the hard stuff of life with a hard heart.
But, that hard heart has, in part, also been related to a deep fear that I was losing the already tenuous grasp that I have on the things of God. The things that we can hold on to—the very “realness” of Him. And, after that, the very “realness” of His love. And, after that, the very “realness” of His forgiveness. And, after that, the very “realness” that He sees and knows–and acts. He has seemed, so very silent.
This past week, I read the ubiquitous “Mary and Martha” story. A story that, in the past, has quite irritated me. I imagine because of all the poor illustrations and uses of it that I’ve heard since I was a child. The whole “Busy Martha is up-tight and wrong, Mary is the right one.” How often have I wanted to say “Get off your butt and help wipe the table, Mary!” I am, after all, a doer. I love me a good checklist.
But, I have also, over the past 5 years, spent much time “at the feet of Jesus”. Nearly every morning, in fact. Even during the ugly months. Even this morning, since about 4 am. Sometimes I approach that time eagerly. Sometimes I approach it with weariness. Sometimes—o, how wrong is this—I approach it with an incredibly rebellious soul. That certainly has been the case over the past couple of months.
But earlier this week, I saw a phrase in the Mary/Martha story in Luke 10 that I had never seen before. It’s found in Jesus’ response to Martha. You know the one–where he shuts Martha down and praises Mary (or, at least, that’s how I’ve always viewed it. Until this week.) Here’s what He said. I’ll italicize the part I’ve never seen before:
Which will not be taken away from her. What is this referring to?
It is referring to the Good Portion.
And, what is the “good portion”?
The opportunity to learn at the feet of Jesus.
But…and here’s the thing….I don’t think it is just the opportunity to learn at His feet. The opportunity to sit and listen. The opportunity to, every morning, study and pray and write and think and pray and study and learn.
No, I think that not only is the opportunity (or invitation?) to do so is the good portion, but the very things learned in those moments are also what will not be taken away from her. Or, from me. Or from you.
Do you see? Do you see?
I have, to some extent in recent months, feared that much of what I had settled on as being truth in recent years, may not be truth, after all. Challenging circumstances and my own, foolish mind have led me there. But, most of all, fear. Fear and doubt. Tremendous fear and doubt.
Intense fear that the hours and hours of choosing to sit at Jesus’ feet had been taken away. Had come, to nothing.
But, this verse–no, this small phrase in this verse–suggests otherwise.
This small phrase has produced an ember of hope in me that I thought might be permanently gone. That, I was afraid, may have been taken from me.
According to this scripture, it has not. Scripture is truth, right?
I will need to continue to fight to choose the good portion. The good portion of sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to His teaching. Every. Single. Morning. Every single Sunday that I have the opportunity to sit under Biblical preaching.
It is a fight. I wish it wasn’t. I wish I could easily sit there, like Mary. Eager. Anticipatory.
More often than not, though, I either drag myself to His feet, or I plop down with a cynical air, or–much more often–I tremble and refuse to look into His eyes. Or let Him see mine.
I try to write authentically here. This has been a hard post to write. I’m not sure why. Maybe the rawness of the past couple of months, and fear of the continuation of that trend in my own soul. But, after attending church for the first time in a month yesterday, and after seeing that small phrase that “it will not be taken away from her”, I am more hopeful than I have been in weeks. Weeks, which have stretched into months. And, maybe you need to know that for your own soul today. That when you choose the good portion of sitting and listening to Jesus, it won’t be taken from you, either.
I am clinging to that, this morning. With white-knuckles. Please, God.