In this famous story from Luke 10:38-42, we find Martha working to provide the meal for Jesus to eat and Mary sitting at His feet listening to what He has to say. Like us, Martha complains about her workload. Nonetheless, Jesus defends Mary’s act of preference. Every generation of leaders since the first century has written about this passage. Consider Johannes Vermeer’s (1632-1675) painting: I recently reread Thomas Merton’s comments on the Mary/Martha tensions in his address to monks in his book Contemplation in a World of Action (pp.244-250). Allow me to summarize a few of his insights here: The conflict of Mary and Martha is in ourselves. Having sufficient time with Jesus to sustain our doing for Him is, perhaps, the primary tension of every leader. You are not alone. The Holy Spirit invites us to prefer “the apparent uselessness, unproductivity, and inactivity of simply sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening. Read more.
I have just completed a month reflecting on Mark 1 and the rhythms of Jesus. The following is a nice visual of His being with God (contemplation) and His doing (activity). So the question is what might it look like for us to withdraw to a desert in our daily lives, to engage in the rhythms of Jesus of “Being with the Father” and “Doing/Activity.” The following are a few suggestions, many of which come from David Benner’s excellent new book Opening to God. • Pause for Sabbath for 24 hr. each week (Stop, rest, delight, contemplate). • Pause for Daily Office two to three times a day. • Sunday worship/Small group– to worship/sit under the Word. • Read a passage of Scripture and listening for God’s personal word to you. • Light a candle in your home. • Allow music to draw your spirit to God’s Spirit. • Review your day and noticing. Read more.