When You Want Martha’s Hands and Mary’s Heart

Pause_with_JesusA guest post by Chris Maxwell, who appeared on my blog last year and who has just released Pause with Jesus: Encountering His Story in Everyday Life. I’m so excited to receive my copy that I just had to share an excerpt! Congratulations, Chris, on this fourth book in your “Pause” series, and thank you for these words in response to Jesus at the home of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). 

Remember this. It was Martha who opened the door for Jesus. We often treat Martha like she told Jesus to stay outside while she spent a few days fixing the house to impress Him. She welcomed Jesus.

That is good.

That is what I need to do.

But she was “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” That, though understandable and common, wasn’t good. That is what I often do. Don’t you?

Let’s try this. Pause a moment and contemplate on the story. Each scene: distracted. . . by all the preparations. . . that had to be made.

Distracted? By her perfectionistic side? By her humble heart? By the need to impress? By sincere courtesy? How many preparations? Did they all really need to be made?

Add that sentence to your story.

What are your distractions? What are you preparing for? Do they really have to be made?

As I contemplate on her story, their story, and my story, I think of my doing. I know the importance of many actions I take. I investigate the motives in my impure self.  I am aware of my distractions. I reach conclusions like this: I need the heart of a Mary while using the hands of a Martha. And this: be still. And this: sit a while. And this: rest. And this: invite Jesus to the kitchen.

Instead of asking Jesus to tell someone to come help me, what if I need to go to Him in this moment?

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered,”you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed–or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Needed? Few things. Really, only one.

I pray I choose the better, like Mary. I pray it will not be taken from me.

Even when the kitchen is calling.

Even when the flight number is announced and I am to board the plane. Even when my name is called and I am to stand on a stage. Even when my name isn’t called and my value feels questionable. Even when doubts and fears suggest I avoid their existence by working so hard I hardly know what’s really inside me and beside me. Even when my fingers type these words on this keyboard to appear on this screen and later on this book’s pages, I am to be with Jesus.

Seeing. Hearing. Being. While busy, while sleeping, while hurting, while laughing. In the crowd or just us. When I feel like He is there and when I feel nothing at all.

When my Martha self is in a hurry, I pray to stay and be.

With Jesus.


from Pause with Jesus, pages 135-37, excerpted with permission)

I’m challenged by Chris’ questions based on this text: “What are your distractions? What are you preparing for? Do they really have to be made?” In my signed copy, Chris wrote, “Rest in the moment,” and this reflection expresses his response to Jesus’ words. How do you respond?


For more on writing and other acts of faith,

sign up here for free email updates and receive

a copy of How to Pray When Prayer Seems Impossible

8 thoughts on “When You Want Martha’s Hands and Mary’s Heart

  1. I love this excerpt from Chris Maxwell’s new book. It speaks into my Martha soul and Mary desires that are often in conflict. It reminds me softly of God’s ‘word’ to me for 2015 to ‘rest’ in Him more. Thank you for sharing, April. It’s now bookmarked for my ever expanding reading wish list! 🙂

    1. Hi Joy – we have those two things in common, the sense of being both Mary and Martha, and also having an ever expanding list of books-to-read! Your ‘rest’ is a wonderful word for 2015, and I also have an ‘r’ word this year in ‘release.’ With this text, I imagine myself releasing those unnecessary distractions in favour of pausing with Jesus. Blessings to you as you seek to rest in Him more.

  2. Thank you, April, for all the preparations you make for our Bible studies. Challenging and inspiring. I also appreciate your relaxed attitude, no matter how some of us linger with coffee or water and conversations! Or sharing. I am learning some valuable lessons!

    My books are piling up, mostly unread. So I am happy for your guest post of Chris Maxwell’€™s book….Blessings, Mary

    1. Dear Mary, I’m glad that you’ve been able to be part of the group this year. You and everyone contribute in such wonderful ways as we learn from one another. I met Chris on Twitter when I learned about one of his earlier “Pause” books, he heard about my “Sacred Pauses,” and I’m glad to feature his latest book.

  3. What a great reminder in this season of Advent, when the call to put aside and just sit with Jesus is very strong, but so is the “but-I-must-shop-cook-party-wrap-write-decorate”. I like the thought, too, that Martha opened the door for Jesus. Peace to you, sister, as a pastor’s life in Advent must be even more hectic than parishioners. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Melodie – I love the way Chris interacts with this story since I’ve often thought that Martha doesn’t receive enough credit for welcoming Jesus and the rest of his disciples, and taking care of the necessary arrangements. Jesus doesn’t fault her for any of that, but for being “worried and distracted.” Like Martha, I like to get things done, but I also have a strong streak of Mary that allows me to let a counter full of dishes wait! Peace to you also this Advent and Christmas season.

  4. Thanks for including the story from Pause With Jesus. I appreciate your writing and your friendship. Your words are making a difference for many of us. Let’s continue to “pause” during our busy schedules and notice the wonder.

    1. This is just one of the many wonderful stories that you include in Pause with Jesus. I’m happy to share your writing here, and for the way that we can support and encourage one another. Thanks and blessings to you in this season of activity, pause, and wonder.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.