How to “De-Martha-ize” Your Life

By on July 1, 2014

By Sharon V. King –

“Martha, Martha! You are worried and troubled over so many things, but just one is needed. Mary has chosen the right thing, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

Poor Martha.  She was just trying to be a gracious hostess. After all, Jesus was no ordinary house guest. If He knocked on my door, my first thought would be, “Oh no. I can’t welcome the Savior of the world in THIS mess. Could you give me just a few seconds, Lord, to tidy up a bit before you come in?”

Of all Bible verses about women, Luke 10:41-42 is one that speaks to us 21st-century, 50+ women loud and clear. We’re of the generation raised with role models like Harriet Nelson (of “Ozzie and Harriet” fame) who kept their homes camera-ready clean and meticulously organized. We can sympathize with Martha. But, like this Biblical heroine, we also can find ourselves “worried and troubled over so many things,” especially as the years flash by. Housekeeping may be the least of our concerns. In fact, many 50+ women “down-size” their living arrangement in part to reduce the housekeeping (and yard work and home repair) burden.

What’s on your list of “many things” that concern you as you get older? Check all that apply:

___ Your health (Where did all these aches and pains come from?)
___ Your loved ones’ health (How do I get [fill in a name] to stop smoking or exercise more?)
___ Your finances (What nest egg?)
___ Your job (Is it Monday again, already?)
___ Your relationships (Who said “Single and Sixty” was exciting?)

Surely, Jesus understood Martha’s worries and concerns. Notice that He didn’t scold Mary and order her to assist Martha, as Martha requested. In a marvelously, compassionate manner, Jesus avoided hurting Martha’s feelings but managed to use the occasion to teach an important spiritual lesson:  We really only need one thing. Curiously, Jesus didn’t say, ” . . . and that’s Me!” Jesus simply pointed out that Mary “got it,” and He honored her spiritual insight by continuing to share time with her.

So what exactly did Mary “get?” Take a look at Matthew 6:33. Jesus refers to “the kingdom of God,” and He makes a promise:  If we seek the kingdom first, all our other “things” will be added. Ok, so how do we seek the kingdom? In Luke 17:21, Jesus responds to a similar question from the Pharisees by explaining to them that “the Kingdom of God is within you.”

Mary sought the Kingdom of God that was already within her. She responded to her own spiritual curiosity to understand more about the remarkable teachings coming from Jesus. Acting on her spiritual curiosity provided Mary an opportunity to experience the grace of the Kingdom of God she already had nurtured in her mind and spirit.

Is it possible for us to “de-Martha-ize” our lives so we too can find the Kingdom of God within us?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Be an active rather than passive hearer of the Word—How often do we “zone out” during a sermon, prayer, or scripture reading at church? Jot down notes in your church bulletin (or even send yourself a text message on your phone) about something you heard that you want to read more about, understand better, or even challenge with some spiritual thoughts of your own.
  • Make time for stillness and silence—Silence Is neither easy to find nor easy to tolerate for many of us. If we don’t hear or see for too long, we begin to sense we’re “missing” something. Our multi-tasking lifestyles make stillness feel like we’re wasting time. We will have difficulty connecting with the Kingdom of God within us if we drown it out with non-stop sensory stimulation.
  • Share a prayer—We can find unlimited subjects to talk about when we communicate with our families and friends, whether in person, over the phone, or through social media. Choose at least one of those points of contact to ask a friend or family member to pray with you. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or detailed (unless that’s what you need). Just tap into the reservoir of the Kingdom of God within you for a few moments to acknowledge its presence in you and your prayer partner.

No, I have not forgotten about Martha’s worries and troubles. Her anxieties were genuine, and so are ours. Seeking the Kingdom of God won’t magically evaporate all the concerns of our 50+ lives. But, Jesus never made a promise He didn’t intend to keep. He will help us in our “Martha moments,” if we seek Him first. We don’t have to look too hard; His Kingdom is already within us.

© 2014 Sharon V. King, PhD

Painting “And Martha Served” by Elspeth Young.

Sharon is a retired gerontology professor who writes self-help devotional books for 50+ women. In addition to her book, The Spiritual Fitness Check-up for the 50-Something Woman, Sharon has written academic journal articles about religion and aging and has published several inspirational ezine articles and Christian Education curricula. Her new book, Aging Gracefully with the 23rd Psalm, will be published later this year by Anaiah Press. Connect with Sharon on her blog at www.yearsfullofgrace.com and on Twitter @svk50plus.

Sharon V. King

About Sharon V. King

Sharon is a retired gerontology professor who writes self-help devotional books for 50+ women. In addition to her academic journal articles about religion and aging, Sharon has published several inspirational ezine articles and Christian Education curricula. Her new book, Aging Gracefully with the 23rd Psalm, will be published later this year by Anaiah Press. Connect with Sharon on her blog at www.yearsfullofgrace.wordpress.com.

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How to “De-Martha-ize” Your Life