Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World

I've been reading a book recommended by a friend lately. Actually the book was part of a semester long study in our ladies class at church. Unfortunately they had 2 really good classes going at once so I only made it to the class on this book a few times. The teacher was gone once (maybe twice) in the class I was in, so I just floated over the the ladies class during those times and I think that is exactly what God had planned for me.

The teacher highlighted one part of this book one of those days I floated over, and I just haven't forgotten it in the 2 years since. The rest of the book is great, but I thought I would share a small portion of the book here, in hopes that someone else will be as intrigued as I was....

The book is called "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World" by Joanna Weaver

This bit is taken from the middle of chapter 5....

Making Room For The Savior
Few things have whetted my hunger for God like the discipleship course I took back in 1987. While other people may struggle with worldly temptations, my struggle has always been in the area of spiritual disciplines. My devotional life has been haphazard at best. Because I hadn't developed the habit of a quiet time as a child, when the busyness of adulthood came, I found it difficult to find time alone with the Lord.

Some of you may be aghast at such a thought. Your devotional life runs like clockwork. You find it impossible to make it through the day with out time alone with God.

If that is true for you, may I tell you how blessed you are? It has taken me nearly twenty years to come to this discipline, and even then it has been a gift of grace, not an accomplishment of my own making.

Until I took the Navigator's 2:7 Course, I didn't even know what I was missing. There are many wonderful discipleship programs available, and I don't highlight this one for any reason except that it happened to be the one our church used. It gave me the discipleship tools I needed and some necessary accountability as well.

The class was wonderful. My spirit began to grow and thrive as the soil of my heart was tilled deep and fed by the Word of God. But then my Martha-like perfectionist tendencies kicked in, causing me to approach my devotional time as another duty to perform. I loved the feeling I got as I checked of chapters in my Bible reading and conquered another memory verse. To be honest, much of my motivation cam from my competitive nature. I wanted to be the star pupil, one of those disgusting teacher's pets.

Robert Boyd Munger's article "My Heart Christ's Home" changed all that. Through the simple analogy he suggested, I discovered what it meant to have a Mary heart toward God. Suddenly my eyes were open to what true devotion is.
It is not a duty. It is a delight.

It is not an exercise in piety. It is a privilege.

And it is not so much a visit as it is a homecoming.

"Without question one of the most remarkable Christian doctrines is that Jesus Christ Himself through the presence of the Holy Spirit will actually enter a heart, settle down and be at home there," Munger says. "[Jesus] came into the darkness of my heart and turned on a light. He built a fire in the cold hearth and banished the chill. He started music where there had been stillness and He filled the emptiness with His own loving, wonderful fellowship."

goes on to tell how he showed Christ around the house of his heart, inviting him to "settle down here and be perfectly at home," welcoming him room by room. Together they visited the library of his mind - "a very small room with very thick walls." They peered into the dining room of his appetites and desires. They spent a little time in the workshop where his talents and skills were kept, and the rumpus room of "certain associations and friendships, activities and amusements." They even poked their heads into the hall closet filled with dead, rotting things he had managed to hoard.

As Munger described each room, they reflected my heart as well. But it was his depiction of the drawing room that would forever change the way I viewed my time with the Lord.

We walked next into the drawing room. This room was rather intimate and comfortable. I liked it. It had a fireplace, overstuffed chairs, a bookcase, sofa, and a quiet atmosphere.

He also seemed pleased with it. He said, "this is indeed a delightful room. Let us come here often. It is secluded and quiet and we can have fellowship together."

Well, naturally as a young Christian I was thrilled. I could not think of anything I would rather do than have a few minutes apart with Christ in the intimate comradeship.

He promised, "I will be here every morning early. Meet with Me here and we will start the day together." So, morning after morning, I would come downstairs to the drawing room and He would take a book of the Bible... open it and then we would read together. He would tell me of its riches and unfold to me its truths.... They were wonderful hours together. In fact, we called the drawing room the "withdrawing room." It was a period when we had our quiet time together.

But little by little, under the pressure of many responsibilities, this time began to be shortened... I began to miss a day now and then.... I would miss it two days in a row and often more.

I remember one morning when I was in a hurry... As I passed the drawing room, the door was ajar. Looking in I saw a fire in the fireplace and the Lord sitting there... "Blessed Master, forgive me. Have You been here all these mornings?"

"Yes," He said, "I told you I would be here every morning to meet with you." Then I was even more ashamed. He had been faithful in spite of my faithlessness. I asked His forgiveness and He readily forgave me...

He said "the trouble with you is this: You have been thinking of the quiet time, of the Bible study and prayer time, as a factor in your own spiritual progress, but you have forgotten that this hour means something to Me also."

What an amazing thought - that Christ wants to spend quality time with me. That he looks forward to our time together and misses me when I don't show up. Once that message started sinking into my heart, I started looking at my devotional time in a whole new way - not as a ritual, but as a relationship.
And a relationship doesn't just happen. It has to be nurtured, protected, and loved.


This book isn't just centered around this idea but a passage out of Luke 10...
At the Home of Martha and Mary
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.
A justifiably busy woman vs. another woman who puts worship above everything else; and how there is a balance somewhere in all that (of course putting worship and devotion to God at the top of your list).

Highly recommended read.


Anonymous said...

Jesus spoke extremely loud to me through this book.....I'll never be the same, think the same, teach the same, act the same.....knowing that all He really wants from me is me is so comforting. I mean, hey I can do that!

Anonymous said...

Our womens bible study is starting a study on the Mary-Martha book in two weeks. I'm supposed to lead the study. Any suggestions or synopses or outlines I could lead from?

Borah at 8:16 pm

Kiana said...

Hi Borah,

This is a great book to do a Bible study on. Whenever I read a book I keep a pencil close by and underline all the things that really grab at me. So I guess my first suggestion would be to underline things you can really take off on when you pre-read each chapter.

Our teacher just started out with telling what the chapter was about, read some of her favorite highlights and most importantly always had scriptures she pulled from all over the Bible to go with the days theme. At the end of class she always opened things up for discussion.

There's also a study guide in the back of the book that may be helpful (it's more helpful when everyone is reading the book though).

The book also has some charts, lists, and other things you might print and pass out to the class if you really like them.

When I read this book I hadn't started underlining yet, unfortunately I can't remember any other favorites off the top of my head besides the one I quoted.

Best of luck with the Bible class, I'm sure with a book like this it'll be a lot of fun.

Jules said...

I loved this book. Actually our Women's Retreat this year (through my church) is using this book as the theme. I picked up the 2nd one, "Having a Mary Spirit" and, although I'm only a bit into it, I am being blessed so much.

Kimberly said...

Thanks for your comments about this book. I lead a book club called The Quest and I'm looking for a book to do in April. Your post encouraged me to choose this one.
Oocee, FL