Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Martha Syndrome

August has been quite a busy month for our family and, according to the calendar, it'll be getting quite a bit busier. All the school year's events have to be planned and coordinated. Meetings have to be held and activities and classes scheduled.

Along with this, of course, comes the inevitable recruitment. We all want other families involved in our activities, and, most of all, we want HELP! None of these things can happen without a lot of man(and woman)power to get them moving.

Now, we're all busy. Most families these days have a host of options when it comes to activities and other events. Very few of us find ourselves with a great deal of leisure time. This isn't really a bad thing. After all, we have to do something with the hours God grants us each day. We just need to be certain that our priorities reflect the plans that God has for us. It is our responsibility to make sure that what our families do glorifies Him.

At any rate, we often find ourselves inundated by requests for volunteers and participation. And for every request we receive, we're sending out requests on behalf of our own pet projects and groups. Each person feels that his or her request has great merit. "I am doing a great work," we think, "everyone should be involved." Then, as we realize that the volunteers aren't materializing as we had hoped, we often descend into self-pity. "Why does everyone expect ME to do all of this? Why aren't they doing their fair share?" Sometimes, we trudge resentfully on. Other times, we contrive ways to force unwilling people to serve. We have developed the Martha syndrome.

Martha was very industrious. She was busy working, cleaning, cooking- seeing to the needs of Jesus and His disciples. She was carrying on a very commendable work. Often, she is portrayed as a harried and unspiritual woman- an interpretation that had always made me feel a little unsettled. Several years ago, my grandmother, both a prayer warrior and a great Martha said to me that she believed that Martha's problem was not that she was working. After all, Jesus and His disciples were hungry, and meals (particularly 2000 years ago) do not make themselves. Her mistake was in looking around and being resentful of someone with a different calling. "Lord, tell her to help me," she said of her sister. And isn't this precisely what we do today?

What we don't see, because we are human, is the totality of what God is doing in another's life. While God has called us to one project, someone else might be busy working for Him in another area. Or perhaps God has called us to a season of quiet and rest. He gives to each one grace to do exactly what He has called him to do. As long as we carefully submit our time to Him, He will make sure that we have "all things that pertain unto life and godliness." (2 Peter 1:3) That certainly includes the strength, time and patience to accomplish His work.

So, as I send out my requests for help, and receive requests from others, I'm going to pray that the I will trust the Lord to give me, and my many friends involved in so many worthy causes, "all things." I, for my part, will extend grace to others and hope they do the same for me.

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