There is a particularly poignant scripture passage in the Bible that I often find myself contemplating. This specific passage involves sisters Mary and Martha who have received the Savior Jesus Christ into their home for dinner. Martha busily goes about preparing dinner for everyone, but notices that her sister Mary is not helping her to shoulder the work as she feels her sister should and so Martha speaks to Jesus about it.
But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me.
And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. [Luke 10:40–42]
There are many explanations for the meaning behind what the Savior meant and from many who are much more leaned than I, but I admit to feeling a certain affinity towards Martha in this instance. She was trying so hard to serve and provide for others and quite often I too find myself feeling like Martha did, “cumbered about much serving”.
Some might consider the Savior’s words to Martha to be harsh and that Mary should have helped her sister, but to only look at it that way misses the point I think. Through other scriptural accounts we have seen the great faith Martha had and the Savior lovingly tells Martha that he knows she is “careful and troubled about many things”. Then he teaches her a very important lesson.
He reminds Martha that in this instance Mary was doing exactly what she needed to do for herself in order to choose “that good part”. She needed to hear his words and for her this was immensely more important than anything else she could have been doing at the time.
It wasn’t that the Savior didn’t understand Martha was working hard or even that he was not grateful for her service, it was just that she had unkindly judged Mary who was doing what she needed in order to help herself grow as an individual and was of much more import than serving dinner.
At times I know that I too have been guilty of Martha-like behavior and sadly, I know there have been instances in which I have not chosen “that good part” and might have even harshly judged others for where I found them lacking. All because perhaps instead of simplifying and choosing that which is most important I had not properly weighed priorities for myself.
In truth although the dinner that night might have been fantastic, once the food had been eaten the meal would have been forgotten. Whereas the words the Savior shared that night were of eternal import.
Lately I have been feeling weighed down and much “cumbered about”. This has caused me to reflect on and to consider if my priorities are really aligned with those things that are of the most importance to me and in some cases this reflection has helped me to see that some of my “serving” is really not useful at all. In some ways there are times I am just spinning my wheels and not helping to build myself or others up.
I love this quote by Evelyn Marshall, ” What in our own lives have we chosen that is good, lasting, and eternal? Have we separated the trivial from the important? Do we really understand the differences between “nice to know,” “want to know,” and “need to know”? In an age when information virtually explodes around us, are we developing the skills to sort out what we will choose to take into our hearts and minds, and what we will discard? Have we developed an eternal perspective so that “the good part” is clearly visible now?”
My father always used to remind me to pick my mark and to not lose sight of it and sometimes in my flurried activity my perspective is definitely not what it should be.
I cringe when I think about some of my lost moments; moments once past that cannot be reclaimed.
Like sitting and playing with a child, because they grow so fast and then they are gone before we even expect it. Lost opportunities like this are hard to undo.
Or unexpected opportunities to sit and chat with someone whose words just might be an answer to a prayer for them or for me.
All are lost moments I hope to avoid going forward and although Mormons do not celebrate Lent in it’s traditional sense, this Easter season I feel a renewed desire to commit myself to choosing that good part, straightening my priorities and finding myself more free of the cumbersome burdens for which I have saddled myself with in the past.
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