38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 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!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[f] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10: 38 -41
This post has been bouncing around in my head for the past few weeks, and I’m still not sure how to put it into words. I’ve opened the computer multiple times to start the post, but I can’t seem to get past the first line.
Over the past 9 months or so, as we were preparing to transition to God’s new plan for our life, Brad and I reflected often on how we had done little to cultivate relationships in our lives. We were saddened that it took us getting ready to leave to become more intentional with those we cared about. Sure, we shared many great times with friends…we had great fellowship with other believers…we loved those around us deep and wide. But, were we truly doing what God had instructed us to do?
We often fell back on the excuse of our “family time”. We felt strongly that we had to preserve time just to grow together as a tiny family unit. We occasionally would include extended family members here and there, when it was convenient for us, but our dinner table would often times look generic…day in and day out, the definition of “family” would be those who we were blood related to and no one else.
Ecuador has changed that definition. In three short weeks.
I haven’t put my finger on it exactly yet – whether it is the sub-culture of gringos in a foreign land, yet still united within a Christian community. Perhaps it is because of the transitional mentality that people have due to the steady flux of people coming and going as God calls them away or to this place of mission. Maybe it is the underlying need to lean on others as we are all strangers in a foreign land, united in purpose but unable to carry the load solely on our own. Whatever it is, it works here. Family is beyond the small unit that we claim as our own. Family are those around you, and, because of this place, my dinner table will never look the same.
I was so self-centered. Looking inwardly to what I wanted my family to look like, how I wanted to control our evenings, our weekends. Being crazy busy was an excuse…we filled our lives with good things, but we may have missed the best of things. The very thing I was doing to preserve our family unit was directly in opposition to God’s call to reach out, seek out, and minister to others. There are people in every church, neighborhood, village, community, town, and city that need to be loved, accepted, cared for in various ways. That is what the body of Christ is CALLED to do. We were failing miserably, and, as a result, we were teaching our children the pattern of exclusiveness. We stayed in the world of comfortable, and we missed opportunities to show and demonstrate God’s love to those around us.
Our eyes have seen things differently in the past few weeks. We have been recipients of fellowship beyond what we could imagine. We have been shown what it means to give freely, to give of yourself, and to lose yourself for the gain of others. We saw this within our family and friendship circles back in America, but we didn’t appreciate it to the depths we do now. Many of our friends and family did relationship well…but we have a lot to learn.
I’ve learned that it doesn’t have to be a four course meal…it’s the fellowship around the table. It doesn’t have to be a huge letter with flowery statements…it’s the heartfelt words that matter. It doesn’t have to be hours of time together…it’s a hug to say you care. It doesn’t have to be an entire day of help…it’s an hour or two of purposeful time that makes a difference. It doesn’t have to be grand…it just has to be intentional.
We are so caught up in our own lives that we fail to see the lives of those around us.
It’s never too late to see those around you, and reach out to love them. If you do hospitality well, may God continue to open your eyes to see even more clearly the people that need to be loved. But, if you feel too busy, too stressed, too tired, too whatever, just take a step and open your heart and your home to those around you. Strive to be Mary, and choose what is better. Your dinner table will never be the same, and neither will you.
Blessed to be His,