Drop Everything, Dear One

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While I’m tempted to do a bit about Christmas (i.e. the deeper meaning, the Christ child, the relative insignificance of gifts…) — I feel the Lord stirring my heart in a different direction. The direction I’ve never really been comfortable with. The direction of contemplation.

 “As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of             Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. ‘Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.’

 The Master said, ‘Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.'”(from Luke 10)

Now those of you who know the story of Mary and Martha and Jesus’ visit may see a hint of where I’m going. Poor Martha left to do all the work, Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet, oblivious to all around her… and, indeed, that’s part of where I’m going. But really, we’ve been so hard on poor Martha. Some may even see this as an account of Jesus essentially throwing poor Martha under the proverbial bus for just trying to have dinner on the table on time.

But what was Jesus really saying (with incredible love and nary a smidge of condemnation)? Essentially: Martha, what you’re doing is important and I’m so grateful you want to give me a delicious dinner. I also understand you want it on the table in a timely manner so YOU can have a seat at my feet. But, dear one, sometimes the most important thing is to simply drop everything for me. And for your own heart’s sake.

Confession time: I’m NOT by nature a good at-Jesus-feet-sitter. I’m NOT good at dropping everything. I get an almost drug-like high from GETTING THINGS DONE. Ah, the glee of crossing off the checklist, occasionally writing additional things down for the pleasure of crossing them off! Ah, the delight of that tired feeling at the end of the day, looking back on a pile of things DONE and falling asleep exhausted! Ah, the coffee-fueled buzz of whizzing about the house with a clean path emerging behind me!

But what of my heart?

Ah, that. Well, who has time for that? Really, my heart is FINE, just keep moving forward, clicking off the To-Do list! If I have time at the beginning of the day (before the coffee spurs me on), I’ll check in with God. And at the end of the day I’ll pull away from my phone to heft my Amplified Bible. Let it fall open to — wherever — and start reading before my mood-stabilizer meds kick in and I fall asleep (usually a good 10 minutes). Isn’t that enough?

No. How I wish it was at times! I could get a lot more DONE if Holy Spirit didn’t keep nagging me about sitting down and just being with my Lord for a while.  Honestly, especially when the caffeine has me humming, the LAST thing I want to do is sit down. And when I do sit down, all I can think of is, When can I get up again and DO something else?

Now hold on a minute. I’m not talking about a religious I HAVE to do this An Hour a Day Keeps the Devil Away scripted Quiet Time. I’m talking about daily connection, taking time to be inwardly still, at least, before my God, loving Him. I’m talking about walking in the Spirit, as He leads, into daily delight. I’m talking about taking His hand and letting Him lead. About, as 12 year-old Jesus said so succinctly “being about my Father’s business.” This, for me, starts with stopping.

Deep down, way down deep where my heart is crying out I hear the call: Be still and know that I am God. He is calling me to connect. And that’s ultimately all my very being wants, to connect with my sweet Daddy and receive all the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control — He pours lavishly into me. Ingesting into my very being sweet Spirit fruit. But I rarely get this when I don’t stop. Acknowledge Him. Gaze into His sweet face and thank Him. I rarely get the gift of fullness in Him when I’m so busy on my own agenda I forget who — and Whose — I am.

My inner and outer whirlwind hears the Master’s voice:  Peace, be still. And Martha drops her dishrag on the counter, smooths her hands on her apron and simply stops. She gazes into those eyes and can’t resist the pull to sink at His feet, startled when He lifts her up, gives her a hug… and we sit together.

Soon we’re laughing and I find my mind awakening to deeper understanding. My soul is cleansed from the inside-out as fresh perspective washes away futility. My heart warms and I snuggle into His embrace. And I’m startled to discover, laughing at the improbability of this miracle in me! — I really don’t care anymore about what gets done today.

Because the most important thing has already been done.

Now, dear friends, can you relate? What strategies have you found helpful in connecting with the Lord? Let’s help each other by weighing in in the comments, below. Love you all!

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Take Back the Day

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It’s raining again. Steady, penetrating, cold, continuous. A beautiful day! Wait, what?

Back when my girls were little, before the Boy entered our lives… no matter what the weather was like I’d do the same thing. Every morning, I’d walk into their room, push open their pink and pastel hearts curtains and say a variation of It’s a beautiful day!

It’s a beautiful sunny day!
It’s a beautiful cloudy morning!
Look — snow!!!
It’s a beautiful — rainyful — day!

I’d especially get excited about the most miserable mornings, a kind of reverse psychology I hoped would work on all of us. Because I used to be so jerked about by weather conditions…

Atmospheric pressure = sinus headache = irritability.
Cloudy = where’s the sun? = annoyance.
Sunny = glaring light = pull the shades.
Cold and rainy = the worst = pull the covers over my head, let me sleep some more. Except I couldn’t because two little girls and a baby don’t allow for such extravagances.

One morning, while it was still dark (when I could have time with the Lord, uninterrupted by the cacophony of tiny female voices, their insatiable activity) I reflected a bit on my brief stint as a temp in the work world. Every week was the same:  Monday we’d slog in. Misery reigned as the general consensus seemed to be “just get me to Friday.” Tuesday was filled with “tomorrow’s Hump Day.” Wednesday was — well — Hump Day itself, but small talk often featured “two days to go.” Thursday was  “tomorrow’s Friday.” Friday featured a countdown of hours till Happy Hour. And other planned and unplanned weekend extravagances.

Sipping tea and thinking of this, I remembered what those weekends were like for me, a 20-something English major working full-time during the summers, part-time the rest of the year, putting myself through college. Weekends were wonderful, for the most part — except for catching up on all the laundry and other cleaning shunted to the side during the week. And yes, Sunday evening had me frowning over the coming week’s landscape… Another week of drudgery slated for temps: making endless copies, helping someone or other reconfigure her workspace (actually that was kind of fun, but I digress), and — eventually — my daily heap of credit disputes to enter into the system.

And I saw that I had, at least in part, succumbed to the temptation to only live for what, two days out of seven? Realizing this with the proverbial slap in the face one day at work was a wake-up call. On my crawling commute home through Wilmington rush-hour traffic that afternoon I asked the Lord to change me. Thus began a complete mindset shift. I would (with the Lord’s help) find delight in each day. I would (God helping me) enjoy every day as much as humanly possible.

I initially found myself a bit of an enthusiastic, upbeat oddity in the office. But over the next month or so (before I went back to college), I discovered some comrades, a few who found plenty to laugh at and ways to inject delight into the usual tedium of working in a credit company cubicle farm. I marveled as I rode the elevator alone on my last day — I was actually sad to leave.

Sipping the dregs of my tea as that mom of three little sweeties, I decided that dark morning to impart a love of every day — regardless of its proximity to the weekend or lack of sunny skies — to my three little treasures. And, eventually, to my sweet son. It’s been an ongoing project for almost 16 years now. And I’m still amazed at the delight I feel, a steady gratitude for every day. And their (mostly) unflagging optimism going into their own days. A hard-won, God-given gift.

Every day a delight. Even this cold, rainy one. Especially this one. Thanks, Daddy God. From the bottom of my astounded, joyful heart.

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