In preparation for working on a new book, I've been doing some in-depth research into the lives of the Bethany siblings: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. While the Bible doesn't give us a lot of information about these three, there is much we can glean from their encounters with Christ.
One of my favorite accounts is found in Luke 10. The siblings invite Jesus to their home for dinner, but while Mary and Lazarus are sitting at Jesus' feet (at least, we assume Lazarus was there), Martha was busy in the kitchen. You know the story. Martha gets fed up with being the only one working and marches herself out to Jesus, demanding that He tell Mary to help her. Oh, Martha! Isn't it ironic how fussy and bossy we become when we feel we're being mistreated? But that's a lesson for another day.
Today, I want to focus on Mary. According to Jesus, Mary had chosen the good part. While Martha was busy serving (which is good), Mary was busy seeking. While Martha was in a tizzy, Mary was at peace. While Martha was spending time with her own bitter thoughts, Mary was spending time with her Lord and Savior. The good part? I'd say so.
But, I want you to notice specifically what Mary was doing. Yes, she was spending time with Jesus, but it was more than that. She was listening.
She heard His word. She wasn't peppering Him with questions or requests. She wasn't explaining to Him how He should answer her prayers or run the world. She wasn't reciting a list of woes. From what we can tell from Scripture, she didn't say anything--not even to defend herself against her sister's angry outbursts. Nope, she listened. She took it all in. She meditated on what the Lord was saying.
Do we do the same, or is our time with God mostly filled with our own voice? Yes, God wants us to talk to Him. Yes, He wants to hear our requests. And yes, He even wants us to voice our complaints. But that's where we often stop. We have our say, then get up and start our day, wondering why we don't feel more spiritual and peaceful. Is it any wonder? We never gave the Lord an opportunity to speak to our hearts. We never allowed Him the time to respond to our requests or complaints. While we poured out our hearts, did we give Him the chance to pour out His?
As I thought about this principle this morning, I was convicted. Many times, I turn my quiet time with God into a Mary/Martha hybrid. I sit at His feet, but all the while, my Martha-brain is spinning and giving directions. . . even to God Himself. Somehow I manage to merge the good part of spending time with God with the not-so-good spirit of bitterness and impatience. I have my say and go on my way, failing to allow the Lord to speak to my heart and to truly work in me. The only "quiet" during my quiet time is God because I don't stop talking long enough for Him to get a word in.
With this revelation, I am making a goal to speak less and listen more, especially in my still time with God. After all, isn't what He has to say more important than what's on my mind? Without a doubt.
Speak, Lord, for thy servant hears!