Find Real Joy
by Brenda Kuseski
In Mark Buchanan’s Book, The Rest of God, he reminds us of the lessons Jesus taught Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42:
In Luke’s story of Mary and Martha, Martha is all in a flap over what she sees as Mary’s laziness. Mary sits attentive at Jesus’ feet, while Martha wrestles the crockery, thickens the sauce, bastes the lamb chops, set the table. Mary is oblivious, dreamy and serene, even though Martha is sending up smoke signals thick and menacing. She places the tableware with an emphatic clunk. She raps the ladle on the pot’s edge as hard as a blacksmith nailing horseshoes. She sighs with a hiss like fire brazing water.
Still Mary doesn’t notice.
The lid finally boils over. Martha vents her frustration on both Jesus and Mary: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40)
Jesus gently chides Martha, gently commends Mary. But it’s his praise of Mary that should give us pause: “Mary has chosen what is better” (v. 42).
Mary’s choice is only better.
What would be best?
My guess: Martha’s industry joined to Mary’s attentiveness. Martha’s briskness and energy and diligence stemming from Mary’s quietness and restfulness and vigilance. The best is to have Martha’s hands and Mary’s heart.
Here’s today’s lesson: sit with Jesus until you hear from him what he would have you do—sit some more, visit the aging, teach Sunday school, or clean your desk. Or, maybe, cook the lunch. And then put your hand to the task, Martha-like and do it with all your heart, Mary-like.
In that, you’ll find your joy.
[Buchanan continues] In quietness and rest is your salvation, God says [Isa. 30:15]. But we want to flee and amass horses, chariots, accolades, pats on the back—just about anything to bolster our sense of security and worthiness. But none of those things can. All they do is send us scurrying in the opposite direction. They just widen the hole we want them to fill. Like gluttony, insecurity’s appetite increases with every bite.
What we learn from Mary and Martha is that God’s cure for us is to choose our own joy—in Him.