Monday, April 28, 2014

A Tale of 2 Marthas (or How to Meet People Where They are)

Martha is a famous Bible person of interest. She is sister to the raised-from-the-dead Lazarus and Mary, who anointed Jesus with oil (nard.)  She has quite the reputation, usually known for upbraiding THE SON OF GOD, for crying out loud.

Women down through the centuries can relate to her 1st recorded experience with Jesus, in Luke 10:38-41.  I mean, who hasn't had a sibling/family member/relation/friend or person-in-general sitting on the couch when they should be helping you as you slave over...say a big holiday meal?  Who hasn't thrown or wanted to throw a hissy fit when they didn't?

My family will confirm I have thrown said fits.  It feels good in the moment.  But the moment passes and then everyone is uncomfortable and looking at you out of the corner of their eyes like they should put the knives away.

Oh yes, I've been this Martha.  

We know what happened - Jesus spoke the truth in love.  He didn't condemn her, but He did correct her.  He pointed out she was doing all this work for her own pride and that someone should recognize the awesome job she was doing.  And if they didn't, she would MAKE THEM NOTICE.  Ok, Jesus didn't SAY that exactly.  That's just what I hear when I read their interaction.  

No, Jesus the ever-gentle, ever-wise Savior points Martha back to the right path.  He leaves it to her to get on board His grace train.  He meets her where she is but He challenges her to go deeper with Him.  He has no intention of leaving Martha the way He found her.

The 2nd time we meet sweet Martha, in John 11:1-44, she is in a much more tender place.  Not just because her brother had just passed away but I think because clearly that first reproof by Christ changed her to the core.  She had Jesus in her house and that's definitely got to rub off.  Now, she is the one meeting with Christ, declaring who she knows Him to be.  I've also been this Martha (to the praise and glory of God!)

But yet again, no matter how far she'd come in faith, Jesus met her where she was.  

And His intention was still the same: He was not going to leave her the way He found her. 

Every experience we have with Christ, no matter the form, is meant to conform us into His image.  It could be a word from the Word, gift of the Spirit, vision, dream, sermon, healing, prayer or conversation with your best friend.  When Jesus is in the middle of it, when we are talking about Him or to Him, we will not be the same afterwards.

I think that is important to remember for those of us who might be a little farther down the path of faith.  Perhaps you've been ministering for days/weeks/months/years and no change seems to be happening in the life of the person you are loving on.  You could be in a church that is just stale or lifeless.  Maybe you are so frustrated with their choices, you'd like to take them by the shoulders, giving them a good shake.

Or you could have already walked away.  Whatever the case, I think it is important to remember we are only the vehicle to show them God's grace.  We are not the grace.

It is the Holy Spirit who does the redeeming work and everyone is at their own pace with Him.  Everyone is at a different point, no matter how long you've been walking together.  I'm fortunate to be walking with someone who operates in a much higher flow than I do and yet, she still meets me where I am.  She still loves me for who I am and she challenges me to experience more and more of God every minute. 

We are all pilgrims on God's Highway; some of at the station and some of us speeding ahead.

Our challenge as children of the Most High is to love people where and when they are, not expecting them to rise to your level.  God stooped down to Earth, so we must bend to meet them.  Still, we must trust that when we do that, emboldened by the Spirit of the Lord, He will use us to change them.  Jesus met Martha in her house and on the road but never time did He leave her there.  He wrapped His arms around her and said, 

Come with Me.  I will teach you.  My Father is your father and My Spirit is your guide.  We will teach you the most excellent way of living on Earth so Heaven will be made known through you.  You are safe, loved and there is so much more I can show you when you surrender to my leading.  Join Me.  Come with Me!

Stay with that relationship and keep surrendering to the assignments God puts in your path.  He will work it out, He will make grace abound.  Don't give up because you never know when the harvest will explode in front of you. God's timing is always right...and right on time.

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