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Posts Tagged ‘grace’

There’s this story in Luke, of two sisters who invite Jesus into their home. Mary and Martha. As the story goes, Martha spends time rushing about, making sure things are perfect for Jesus. Mary, on the other hand, just sat at the Lord’s feet to listen to his teaching. Martha complains about this because she feels like Mary has left her alone to do the work. Jesus responds in a peculiar way.

“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.”

My whole life I believed I was a Mary. I mean, I’m Bridget Gee, the one who has loved God since birth! And maybe before the age of seven, I was Mary, but things changed. I’ll adress that in a bit. But recently, in telling my mother about this thought, she immediately responded, “Oh no, I always thought you were a Martha.” Even though I agree with her now, it shocked me that the person who knows me most would consider me Martha my entire upbringing, and not tell me.

I guess things are better left to be learned independently. Oh, but if only I had had a Mary around- someone who wasn’t concerned about being perfect or put together, but someone who just longed to be in Jesus’ presence all the time. Maybe I would have noticed my ways then.

Or, maybe not. God is good, so he worked out this discovery in His time and not my own. I mean, like Martha, I’m a ‘get ‘er done’ type of gal. I want things fixed as soon as possible. I want things in order right now, and always. So naturally, I would have liked God to take care of this issue inside of me a long time ago.

But I neglected to notice that the way I began to live my life was the opposite of the Gospel. This year was the first year that I began to notice how Martha I have been for most of my life. When I was small, something shifted in my belief system that altered the way I functioned as a child of God until this very year.

I got it in my mind that I wasn’t a good enough Christian. I thought that I would start earning my salvation by praying the right prayers everyday, doing the right things, getting the best grades, listening to only Christian music, being a good daughter. I thought that these things would give me God’s favor and that I would rise in the ranks of my Christianity, that He would accept me more, love me more, give me more. That doesn’t sound like the free grace that the Gospel offers, does it? I won’t get into what shifted my child-like thinking, but I started to walk down this path of bondage at age seven.

Fast forward to age 23. 16 years of that. Imagine. Sixteen years, I tried to be good enough for God, for my parents, for my friends, for my church, for my school.That kind of life will never bring freedom to anyone. I felt trapped, never measuring up, started to cope in sinful ways, and felt even more trapped, bound by a life of slavery, a life of performance, and engaging in death too often.  It took sixteen years for me to get sick of it.

In this story, Jesus shows Martha the difference between her choice and Mary’s: being at Jesus’ feet is the only thing we need. It’s the only thing that will last. Martha chased empty and temporary things in order to please Jesus. But Jesus didn’t come to be served dinner. He didn’t come so that we may please Him. It was already too late for that. Instead, Jesus came so we may sit at His feet and listen and be healed. He takes care of the rest.

You know what’s funny? It’s not like Martha was left to her destructive ways. Jesus made sure to take a moment and teach her the most important thing. Even in her hurry and scurry, in her choice to not sit at Jesus’ feet, he still took care of her. In a couple short sentences, he cuts to the root of the matter,

“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.”

Even now, hearing these words to Martha, these words to me, I struggle. Let me translate what Jesus might be saying to me in this “in between” time in my life.

“Bridget, you are worried and upset about many things:
– money, paying your bills, gas for your car, even eating!
– raising enough money to start your work on campus
– feeling at home, being new, not feeling comfortable, being rejected
– failing and what people will think
But Bridget, even if you had all those things, they could be taken away from you at any moment. You only need one thing. To be at my feet. To hear my words. That can never, ever, be taken from you. And if that need is met, you will be more than taken care of.”

I’m gonna be honest with you guys. Even though I have been learning this lesson since about May, I’m still horrible at just sitting at Jesus’ feet. Sixteen years of habitual performance is hard to shake. But how else am I going to be healed of the hurts in my life unless I sit at Jesus’ feet?

How am I ever going to be someone who trusts the Lord in all things unless I practice now? Right now, I have nearly no other choice than to trust him. I can rely on nothing else. No matter how much I try to hurry around and get things in order so that I can feel secure, valued, and loved, it will all fail. Only being in relationship with Jesus and being in His presence will bring me security, worth, and endless love.

In this time in my life, where things are not secure, where I don’t feel the love of thousands of friends, where I’m just not sure what the heck I’m doing here, I feel invited to sit at Jesus’ feet. I feel invited to be Mary, like I always thought I was. I want to know Jesus, I want to hear his words over me, I want his everlasting goodness to wash over my wounds, my sin, and heal me forever. I want to fall in love. I want to have the kind of peace that Mary has- she knows she doesn’t have to do anything to make things right around her house. She knows her place- it’s not in the kitchen, it’s at Jesus’ feet.

What a wonderful God who loves me so much that He would rather me spend time with Him than prepare Him dinner. What a God who loves me so much that he would invite me to come to Him when I’m a mess, trying to do everything I can to raise enough money, to do my best at this staff worker thing, when I feel like I can’t do it alone. He still wants me.

So I’m admitting it once and for all, I am Martha! But let’s see if in a year from now I’ll want a name change…

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As I am writing this, two of the boys that I’ve been watching for the past week came into the room with fake M-16s, to shoot me. So, I’m dead. I’m a dead woman writing this. Oh, death by nerf gun was also involved. Then, the boys proceeded to watch me type all of that. And roll their eyes.

I’ll be right back. It’s time to eat. Spaghetti.

I’m back. All three kids are with me. They say hi. Nick, Josh, and Angie. hi. <—-that was Angie.
Now I’m trying to get rid of them.

Ok. Done. Finally. All that say, I’ve been nannying for the past week, away from home, and will be, until the end of this week. We’ve travelled Arizona far and wide and would’ve gone farther if the children so chose. Nick, 12, and Angie, 9, are brother and sister, both of whom are quite witty and hilarious. For the most part, it’s monkey see monkey do after Nick. Even Josh, 11, will do exactly what Nick does. He’s more passive in nature, but also quite adventurous.

Today, the four of us travelled from the ranch in Pearce, AZ to the Copper Queen Mine in Bisbee to take a mine tour. All week, on our road trips, the kids have been calling out radio station numbers as if there were one universal station for the hip-hop, rap, pop, and R&B hits. But, driving through southern AZ, there are about five solid stations: a Mexican music station (usually mariachi style), a country station, a classical station, a Today’s Hits station that always goes in and out of static, and then a conservative Christian station. When none of the others were working, I decided to listen to some postive encouraging Christian music. After a while, Angie turned to me and gave me a funny look.

“What is this?”she asked.

“A Christian music station.” I replied honestly.

She gave me another weird look. “You would do anything that has God in it!” She responded in an emphatic but sort of questioning tone.

I took a second and laughed to myself. “Yes! Yes I would! And you know why Angie?”

“Why?”

“Because God is the best thing!”

“He’s better than food?”

“Yeah. He made food.”

“He’s better than what you want most in the whole world?”

“I want him most!”

At that point, she was frustrated, and semi-unconvinced that he’s better than food, but that seriously was our conversation. It was comical, but so good at the same time! Because for the rest of the drive to Bisbee, I was thinking about that quality of God- that he’s the best.

I’ve written blog after blog after blog on this. God is numero uno, make him numero uno in your life. Because he really is the best! This truth was reiterated to me in another way today. Because of this nannying gig, I’ve missed 2 mondays of our small group Bible study on Hosea. So, I cancelled last week and this week I didn’t lead it. But, I read chapters 10 and 11 on my own.

And Oh, My, God. Literally.

In chapters 9 and 10 of Hosea, God speaks of how he’s going to destroy Israel because of their disobedience. Now, I know that sounds harsh, but it really looks a little something like this:
God gave Israel freedom.
Israel abused that freedom by serving foreign gods.
Which went hand in hand with lots of prostitution and idolatry.
Therefore, God tells them that their ways are going to destroy them.

Because who I know my God to be is the Provider. My source of Joy. The Most Beautiful Thing. And He wants to be all that. He yearns to be all that for each and every one of us. Sometimes though, doing things God’s way is a lot harder than copping out and getting instant gratification. So, in Hosea, God is mad, he’s tired of pouring out on the people he loves, but not being recognized, not being acknowledged, and not having a mutual relationship of love. Therefore, chapters 9 and 10 of Hosea consist of God explaining how Israel is going to fall.

Back to the Oh, My, God moment. Chapter 11. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hosea%2011&version=NIV (if you want to read it.)

Even though God is angry, even though he knows his people are “determined to turn their backs on him,” he can’t give them up! He overflows with compassion. He is determined to be known and determined to do His will. Because, well, he’s God.

But come on! Isn’t that wild?! Isn’t that crazy!? God says that he is not human in this chapter. He clearly makes the distinction between him and us. You know what I hear from this?

God: I do not run away.

He’ll never leave us! No matter how dumb we are. No matter how blatantly we reject him. No matter how far we try to run. He will not turn his back. You know, I heard this illustration almost a year ago: imagine yourself walking the road of life. When you’re right with God, he’s walking with you, right beside you, and sometimes ahead of you, sometimes both. When you’re not right with God, He’s right behind you, waiting for you to turn around so he can lead the way. I see that Guy in chapter 11 of Hosea. The Israelites are going their own way, doing their own thing even though God has blessed them abundantly. They have known God and how amazing he is.

He’s the best. He isn’t human! He loves like no one else. As someone who knows God and walks right with him, I have wanted to run away from relationships that don’t benefit me. I have been too tired and exhausted to love people in my life. Often, I am nothing like this God, who after being rejected and insulted and ignored, is ever determined to be known. No matter what, He is determined to give them provision his way.

If you haven’t, go back and click the link of Hosea 11. Wrathful God, my butt.

So yes, Angie. God is better than food. God is better than all the things I could ever want in the world.

He’s all I want.

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