Margins.

Tuesday

Recently we've been talking about "margins" at church. Margins... that extra time everyone has...oh wait. My blog addresses it a little also. Taking time out of your busy schedule to spend by yourself, or with famliy, or with God. Our society tells us that if you have free time, fill it with something "productive". But isn't quiet time productive? Isn't famliy valueble? If you get too busy, you miss out on what God's trying to show you in everyday moments. Sometimes (maybe a lot of times) that stuff gets squished to the back and IF there's time, we'll get to it. But in doing that, we miss out on so much.

Here's a section from my FAVORITE book (Windows of the Soul by Ken Gire) that goes along with that idea. It's pretty long, but very powerful.

"Today…has its own whirl of responsibilities, and if we get caught up in the spin, the windows of the soul will blur by us. To keep that from happening, Anne Morrow Lindbergh suggests we strive “to be the still axis within the revolving wheel of relationships, obligations, and activities.”


The still axis.

It is able to maintain its center no matter how fast the wheel is turning. It is, in fact, what keeps the wheel turning. Without the axis being still, the wheel would wobble off or else bind up and bring everything lurching to a stop. Stillness is what gives stability. And it is what keeps the wheels from falling off our lives.

The problem is not indigenous to our times, however fast-paced and frenetic those times may seem. The problem is as old as humanity and as ingrained as human nature. Paging back two thousand years and peering through the window of another culture, we see the same problem in the home of two sisters. One is a still axis; the other is caught in a revolving wheel.

…(Luke 10:38-42: the story of Mary and Martha)

What do we see at the window?

The disciples are with Jesus initially, but they don’t appear to be with Him now. Why? Is the house too small? Do they all need a break from each other after being on the road for so long?

Is Jesus tired, is that why He comes to this house?

Is He hungry? If so, for what? For food? Or is He hungry for something else, something that maybe the crowds and disciples can’t give Him?

Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem, on the way to His death. A few miles before He gets there, He stops here, at the home of these two women. He stops here, I think, because He is hungry for someone who will listen, someone who will understand, someone who will feel something of the heaviness He carries with Him on that uphill road to Jerusalem. Yes, He is hungry. But not for food.

Which of these hungers does Martha see when she greets Him at the door? Does she see a window into what is going on inside Him, a window into what He is thinking, feeling, needing? Or does she see just the leanness in His face and the angle of the sun, telling her it’s nearly time for dinner?

Martha goes to the kitchen to prepare that dinner, leaving Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet. What words is He aching to say, not just to Mary but to both of them? What words is He aching to hear, not just from Mary but from both of them?

Only one of them, though, pauses at that window. Only one of them sees the hunger in His soul. And it’s not Martha.

Martha’s in the kitchen. She works faster to make up for Mary’s absence, but the faster she works the more steamed-up she gets. Finally she wipes the sweat from her face and storms out of the kitchen with a frying-pan-of-a-question waving in her hand. But why does she shake it at Jesus and not at Mary? And why does she refer to her as “my sister” instead of by name? The answers to those questions reveal something not only of her frustration but her anger.

Can you hear in her questions not just the irritation but the indictment? “Lord, don’t you care?” Instead of waiting for an answer, Martha issues an order. What does that tell you about the nature of her questions and about the tone of voice she used in asking it?

But her wrath is met with a gentle answer. There is great tenderness in Jesus’ reply. Can you hear it?

In the past, I have more or less identified with Mary. But over the years I have had the opportunity to look deeper into my life, the more I see of Martha. The truth, I think, is that there is something of both sisters in all of us. And that is why so many of us so much of the time find ourselves in the middle of an inner tug-of-war, pulled one way by our duties and another by our devotion.

The words spoken to Martha are words spoken also to the Martha in me. But what were those words correcting? It was her worry, not her work. It was her being upset, not her being under pressure. The issue wasn’t her preparations; it was her distractions. It wasn’t the many things; it was that the many things didn’t revolve around the one thing that was needed.

There was not quite center that Martha was working from, no solitude of heart, no still axis around which her activities revolved. That’s why the wheel fell off her attitude. And that’s why, with some regularity, they fall off of mine.

When my attitude starts to wobble, I know it’s because I’m distracted. I don’t realize how much I’m distracted, though, until the axis starts grinding and heating up. Like Martha, I get frustrated, irritated, and sometimes stomping-mad-tell-somebody-off angry.

I know a wheel is starting to fall off when the meal I’m preparing becomes more important than the people I’m preparing it for. When my work becomes more important than the family I’m working for. When a point I’m making becomes more important than the person I’m making it to. That’s how I can tell I’ve lost the still axis. When I lose sight of what’s more important. When I lose a sense of the sacredness of another human being, especially the human beings closest to me, the ones in my family.

I don’t want to live in the kitchen of religious activity, distracted with all my preparations. I don’t want to live slumped over some steamed-up stove, worried and upset about so many things. I want to live at the Savior’s feet, gazing into His eyes, listening to His words, and seeing as many windows as He’ll show me.

At His feet is where we learn to pause at those windows. It starts by loving Him and longing to hear His voice. When we’re slaving away in some kitchen where the pots and pans are cleaning, it’s hard to hear that voice. But when we’re at His feet and our heart is still, we can hear Him even when He whispers."

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