Mary Vs. Martha

We know the story. The words of Jesus, “but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”Luke 10:42. Too often I am finding though that this story is being used by women to label themselves and each other in a way that isn’t helpful. I do not think God intended us to use this passage to pat ourselves on the back for being a “Mary” while trying not to make the “Martha’s” feel bad so we thank them for their “servants heart” and “hospitality”.

Both women loved the Lord, both women had great faith in Christ. Jesus loved their family and was comfortable in their home. Just as all of us, Martha wasn’t fully glorified yet, her sanctification was in process. Martha was rebuked for her complaining. She called Mary out in front of Jesus for not helping. In that moment she was serving herself, not others. She was putting her pride above Mary. Her service wasn’t what was being rebuked, her hospitality and the way she opened her home wasn’t the issue, it was her attitude in it. The lesson is that service to Christ must always be subordinate to worship of Christ. What if Mary though complained to Christ about Martha for making too much noise in the kitchen and doing too much while she sat with Jesus. We can label ourselves as Mary’s while self-righteously defeating the purpose of why Mary was chosen as a worshipful follower and example to us.

I don’t think because you can make Brie and jam tarts and organize gatherings that you should be labeled a Martha. Someone who is a student of the Word and loves to write and speak about God’s Word shouldn’t be labeled a Mary. I am a follower of Christ. That is the only label that highlights what He did for me on the cross, the redemption of my wretchedness into His gift righteousness. Out of that pours a desire to worship Him and know him intimately through the living Word of God and there is also the desire to love like He did and serve and give and use my gifts to encourage the body of Christ. Our gifts are different.. How I serve out of my home, how I serve at church, may look different than yours, as it should be. As followers of Christ that service and hospitality can’t come in a humble and God honoring way that ONLY points to Him unless we are first seated at His feet and filled with the joy that comes through the Holy Spirit’s illumination of scripture and truths that show us who God is. Believe me, I have experienced what it is like to serve for the wrong reasons. I have also experienced dry seasons where my worship of God wasn’t being put before all else. But God tells us there can be both. There should be both. “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”‬ James‬ ‭2:14-17‬. We shouldn’t compare, esteem, or condemn how a woman’s hospitality looks (chalkboard menus vs. paper napkins) or what her time with the Lord looks like (2 hour prayer sessions vs. 1 minute devotional). We SHOULD be encouraging each other to put God first in ALL we do. God knows our hearts. “Martha allowed her anxiety about what she must do for Christ overwhelm her gratitude over what He would do for her.” (John MacArthur) There are self labeled “Mary’s” that can have this same anxiety as well. ‬

We all have moments of the good Martha serving out of love and humility and bad Martha serving with pride. We can be Mary truly soaking in and spending time with God in His Word or could be a prideful Mary who is esteeming herself. Labeling someone a Mary or a Martha gives connotations that just are not true and miss the point of this passage in the Bible. It’s not about being a great event planner vs. being great at studying the Bible. The point is to show us ALL, no matter what our bend or tendency is in our personality, that we should put knowing Him first, put being intimate with him and growing our faith and relationship with Him and His Word first. I would love to see those labels go away as we see ourselves as the Lord sees us. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians‬ 3:18

The Answer is No

We got the call this morning, we are not the family chosen for the boys. Rejection is hard. Rejection concerning being a parent is the hardest so far I’ve endured. Rejection has caused me to look at myself long and hard but ultimately to look to God. That really is the only place I can look. When He says He is for me so who can be against me I have to believe that and believe that this rejection is an act of love to us. When He says He works all things together for good I have to believe that our rejection is in the best interest of the boys. When I start looking at all I can praise God for, it is endless. I simply cannot be bitter, there is hope! This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us Hebrews 6:19-20a. An hour later and I have a smile on my face and am praising God for His mighty Sovereign hand who sees it all and knows it all and is in control. Such good has come from this week.

I have been so sensitive to and have had my heart burst wide open receiving the message of adoption. That God would love these boys to the point of plucking them out of their birth home, of despair and a cursed cycle of debauchery, and put them into a home, a loving home where they now will receive the blessing of knowing God’s love. It is not my home they are coming into but God is bringing them into His by rescuing them and putting them in to a home of those who are promised blessings for generations to come. How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, Who greatly delights in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on the earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed. Psalm 112:1-2. Wow! How can I be anything other than thankful for that. It also so sweetly reminds me that I am one of his “plucked” children. He took me from the path I was on which could only lead to death and brought me into His Kingdom, His family, the Body of Christ and the generations under me receive blessing from that.

This has brought my husband and I closer, we have become a stronger unit, and we have experienced that in a way that wouldn’t have happened if this had all went perfectly our way. Praise God! We are stronger and I am closer to the Lord and that can only be a good thing in preparing us for the child that we will be chosen for. Maybe there needed to be some more work done in us that only God knows and He was protecting us from the mistakes we would have made. I just don’t know and I just can’t guess because when I try to lean on my own understanding it produces nothing good. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do no lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5. God is the only one who can be Sovereign, my little brain would just burst if I had to figure it all out. Praise God that He is working, praise God that He loves me enough to not give me what I want because He can see beyond it and what is ahead, (yes, a great parenting lesson)!

I was also aware of the many of you who prayed for us during this. It brings me to tears thinking of those that prayed for us Monday and prayed for us the night before our interview and prayed for us during our interview. THAT was the body of Christ coming together loving us, spurring us on, taking us to the throne of grace. Oh what a gift that was! Friends your prayers were answered. Don’t take this as a “no” from God. Take it as a “yes” to His will. He answered and His will be done. The effective prayer of a righteous man CAN accomplish much James 5:16. My prayers, as hard as it was to pray, was that the boys would be placed in the right home, that the people making the decision would place it before God, that my hearts desire was for the boys, but that God would be glorified. All those things have come to pass, your prayers have been heard and God will continue to work this situation out for good. What comfort to know He sees what is ahead for us.

I will never regret meeting and knowing and loving these boys. They showed us we can love in ways we weren’t aware of. They showed us that even though we fought for them and didn’t ultimately get them, that the fight was worth it. I pray they will know how much they were wanted, I pray they remember the love they received in our home. There will always be pictures of them in our photo album and we will look back at them fondly remembering those little “cutie-patooties” as SG calls them. To be a part of this world of adoption, of redemption, is hard but it is the closest thing to what God has done for me that I can get. Why would I not continue to pour my heart out for this even if it gets broken sometimes. God already has a plan for another child that needs to be “plucked” out of their world and into His and I pray that He will use my family to accomplish that and that ALL will see the glory of God.

I’m sure waves of sadness will come. I have faith that God will sustain me and my family. He has already delivered in such a mighty way to allow me to be able to sit and write this and stop the questions and “what ifs”. I just can’t see anything but God’s hand in this so there is nothing to complain about. Praise God with me. Pray for my husband’s heart to continue to be softened after being so deeply wounded. But as for me I will hope continually and praise You and will praise you yet more and more. Psalm 71:14.

Joy Comes in the Morning

But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You. Psalm 5:11

I can sing with joy this morning. This week as been an emotional roller coaster but God has kept me close and as I reflect and process it this morning I am filled with praise.

We were initially told Monday that we were not chosen to be one of the families interviewed for the boys who we had previously given foster care to for two weeks because of our spiritual differences. The committee couldn’t understand how that big of a difference could work and not be a hindrance in our home for the boys. The adoption committee is made up of people from DSS Family Services and it rotates. It’s not always the same people that decide each case. Our case worker was not happy with their decision and was surprised as well. We have always been upfront about this, it is in our profile that was signed by the director and the state board that gave us our license to foster and adopt so our initial reaction was confusion. We were asked to foster the boys only if we would consider adopting them and we agreed to that and now we weren’t being considered as a family for them. Again confusion, which produced many other emotions ranging from sadness to anger.

So many questions now. Do we continue working with DSS? If this particular committee saw that as a weakness why were we given a license? It is not something we can work on or change, it is just who we are so if that is seen as a problem then why are we here? Why were we allowed to foster them? My husband sent an email to our case worker and asked for a meeting with her and her boss stating our case and how the process seemed inequitable since our bond and time with the boys in our home wasn’t even considered in allowing us an opportunity to tell our story and show them how “it works” in our home. This caused a conversation in the department and with the committee and they agreed it was the wrong decision and we now have an interview Friday at 10:00. I’m proud of my husband for fighting for the boys, amidst a whirlwind of emotions. I am reminded that God is not a God of confusion but of peace. I want our interview Friday to be surrounded by God’s peace, not confusion. I want the committee to see that we are the exception. Yes in general spiritual unequal marriages aren’t the best, they can be filled with bitterness and resentment and nagging and hurt. I have many women introduced to me in a SUM and I know my husband and I are the exception. We talk about the hard stuff, the “elephant” in the room. We don’t keep things from each other, I don’t try to change him but plead in prayer for his salvation. He doesn’t try to keep me from church activities but instead encourages and supports me in them. We are the exception. I praise God that I get to show this committee and tell them our story so they can see what the mighty hand of God can do. So they can see when he pours his grace and mercy on us and tells us to stay, and to not leave the marriage that it can work, that it does work. I want to show them that my husband is a kind, loving, man who loves these boys fiercely already and seeing that makes me love him so much more. I praise God that this has caused me to reflect on the many ways my husband sacrificed and compromised and loved and supported me because he knows my faith is my number one priority. When I was tempted to stay home from Lifegroup when the boys were here because I didn’t want to leave him alone with the three kids for another night he told me to go. He knows it is what I need, God is what I need, and he supports that. It doesn’t make sense. It seems strange, that if he is an atheist why would he be okay with encouraging my relationship with God and the body of Christ. It is because he fiercely loves me as well. And I have a powerful sovereign God who loves me even more. I also praise God for how he has changed the view of the word “atheist” by many who know him. A friend recently admitted she too thought very poorly of anyone who identified as an atheist before she met him. Most people think it means a satan worshiper or a really mad angry evil person. My husband is a kind man. A patient loving giving selfless man. He is a hardworking man with an immense work ethic and great integrity. He does not believe in God. His intellect is telling him God doesn’t exists. This does not make him evil. It does not make him a worse person or less. It makes him blind to God’s truth. His heart is not open to God’s truth. Just as mine wasn’t until I was saved. So I praise God for opening the eyes of others on how they should view an atheist; as a child of God, needing a Savior. Not a monster needing to be shunned.

Because of this decision and reversal of the decision my husband and I have had many great conversations. About our differences, about our family, about our strengths and weaknesses, about my faith, about his feelings towards Christianity, about atheism, about parenting, just so many great conversations, again not making the “elephant” in the room of our SUM an uncomfortable thing but something we are comfortable taking about. We have held each other, cried together, had a great family night after Monday’s news. We are most definitely stronger because of this. He told me last night he has “prayer warriors” at his job who will be praying for us during our interview. These are friends of his who know his beliefs, and tell him they are praying for him. Even in his friendships, God is providing a way for others to love on the atheist and for him to allow it and not resist it. Thank you to all of you who are praying for our family. I love our story. I love every day that God has written. I love that I get to be a part of this. Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’ Isaiah 46:10.

I am so thankful God turned this around and is letting us go in to that room to sit with a committee and tell our story. We are like no other family. You can’t get to know us on a piece of paper. I’m glad my husband fought for that chance we now have. I am so at peace as well. If the decision is still made that the boys won’t be ours I I will praise God for the endless ways we have been blessed by this situation. The end goal is that God be glorified, not Holly gets what she wants. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:13.