In order to serve well, we must spend time at the feet of Jesus.
I love the M&M Christmas commercial where Red, Yellow, and Santa see each other for the first time. This “they do exist” commercial gave us more insight into the personalities of Red and Yellow. We learned Red is the sarcastic, self-designated leader with a touch of cynicism. Yellow is a gullible, yet loveable, goofball. Red and Yellow became well known due to this timeless commercial, but they aren’t the only famous M&Ms we know. Another recognized M&M exist, but they are notorious for a greater reason.
Mary and Martha are sisters of Lazarus and friends of Jesus. Mary was the sister who sat at the feet of Jesus, refusing to let anything or anyone distract her time with Jesus. Martha was the sister who prepared, planned, cooked, cleaned, and baked to serve Jesus, yet was too distracted by serving to truly spend time with Him. Neither sister’s choices were bad; one just chose better (Luke 10:42), yet often, we see Mary as good and Martha as bad. Many of us identify ourselves as a Mary or a Martha. Funny how I never hear anyone say they are both.
I have strong Martha traits, and often my inner Martha pops out in full force. This past Christmas, I saw it was about to happen, yet I just boarded the “Martha” express train and went full steam ahead. I’ve ridden this “way too familiar” train one too many times. I knew what would happen should I get on this train, but I listened to the noise in my head telling me, “You’re serving others for The Lord; it’s okay, climb aboard.” Then I jumped right on, not missing a beat. Serving isn’t a bad thing, but it can’t be the only thing. Unfortunately for me, it became my only thing this December. I found myself being swallowed up by the business of life, all in the name of serving. I did not say no when I knew I should. I kept pushing to get things done under the banner of helping others and soon found myself feeling empty, exhausted, and distant from God. Being so focused on serving, I had forgotten what it felt like to be Mary. I forgot what it was like to slow down and be intentional- to soak in Jesus. When serving became more important than time with Jesus, my good intentions became bad. Desperate for more Mary in my life, I had to get my Martha in check.
During this time of refocusing and shifting my heart’s posture, Pastor Jason spoke about The 3 levels of life: The Shallows, The Midlands, and The Deep. As he described these levels, God spoke to my heart. I allowed myself to get consumed in the shallows and midlands of life. Serving became hurry and busy, trying to get everything done, and telling myself I would spend time with The Lord when everything was done. I was caught in the “just one more thing and then” cycle. I needed to get rightsized and to do that, I needed to spend time in “The Deep.” “The Deep” is what I call the place where we meet Jesus, and change happens. Yes, I longed for “The Deep.”
As I drove home from the service, I kept thinking I’d rather tread water in the deep than drown in the shallows. The shallows of life had pulled me under, and I needed to swim out into the deep and stay a while. I needed to balance my serving with sitting. It isn’t an either-or; am I a Mary or a Martha? The choice is, was I going to be Mary so I could be the best Martha? The two go hand-in-hand, and I must be both.
As I continued to ponder over Jason’s sermon, I felt God calling me to “The Deep.” I spent time being still and silent before the Lord, and I found myself penning this prayer:
“God, call me into the deep,
Grow me in the deep,
Meet me in the deep,
Rest me in the deep.
Still me in the deep.
Mold me in the deep.
Hold me in the deep.
May I breathe you in the deep.
Wash me in the deep.
The deep, where you speak to the depths of my soul.
Where you strengthen my roots, so they are firmly planted in you.
The deep, where you water the driest parts of my soul,
And pour out your healing balm into the cracks left by hurt, disappointment, and the most painful aches no one else understands or sees.
The deep where I find my enjoyment in you.
The deep where my masks come off, and I am fully seen.
The deep, where Mary sat at Jesus’ feet.
The deep, yes, Lord, it’s where I want to be.
Should I stray pull me back to the deep,
And keep me there so it’s only you I see.”
What about you, friend? Are you sinking in the shallows of life? If so, would you swim out into the deep? The shallows are fleeting, but The Deep is eternal.