I have wanted to blog about this for a while!
I have currently been ‘on sabbatical’ now for almost two months. I left my job on October 1st and am in debate with my new work about a start date in January,
and this time between roles was partly to recover from the bruising time that was much of our internal churchy experience partly to pray and seek God for the future, partly to intentionally spend more time with my little girl but primarily to reconnect with the disciple behind the dog collar.
To rediscover a new relationship with Christ based on who I am, not what I did.
As anyone who knows me has probably noticed I am an activist, perhaps at times driven beyond the call of God. Perhaps a little addicted to the drug of accomplishment.
I find doing nothing really difficult.
In fact more than difficult, it is painful.
I was recently challenged to “push through the pain barrier” of just being, to find God at the other side.
As I sat and waited on God, I could feel the restlessness descend on me, 101 things (all of which were probably pointless) pressed in on me, and I resisted. As I sat through this actively choosing not to let my mind wander (what the Buddhists’ call ‘monkey mind’ where your mind flits about all over the place when trying to be still).
When you are still with yourself as you really are and the God who knows you through and through there is no place to hide, a place of facing and confronting those things that we try to avoid encountering.
I recently remembered the lyrics from the song “when the music fades, all is stripped away and I simply come” that idea that “nothing in my hand I bring simply to your cross I cling” that all I’ve done and all that’s happened is not the reason God loves me, instead I was loved before I was able to go anything positive and will be loved after I’ve ceased to be productive, and whether I work a 5 or a 50 hour week neither will see an increase or a decrease in God’s love God me.
I read an article that talked about to many of us are addicted to the drug of accomplishment that it often leaves us grouchy on our days off!
The pressure of work undone can be a real and active distraction.
“Be still and know that I am God” is something different ones of us find easier than others.
Recently my mind had been drawn back to Luke 10 with the story of Mary and Martha.
I identify much more with Martha in this story than with Mary. I would want to be doing something I’d Jesus had arrived, I’d feel just sitting at his feet feels like self indulgence. I would certainly be muttering the same types of things as Martha expecting Jesus to “tell off Mary for not helping!” (and to be fair there are lots of verses about working diligently and conscientiously!) and yet Jesus says that Mary has chosen the better thing.
She’s not rushing around but sat at the feet of Jesus.
Jesus wants her, Martha, not what she can do for him.
Busy-ness inhibits our human relationships, where we don’t have time for people, and busy-ness can inhibit our relationship with God too.
God wants intimacy more than productivity.
Someone once joked about Martha was trying to make Jesus a sandwich he didn’t want, often we are so used to having transactional relationships with people -you do this for me, I do this you- that we realise our worth is not in what we do, and our relationship with God was not intended to be a transactional one either.
I can imagine Jesus saying to Martha: “I just want to be with you…. rather than what I can get from you!”
I then wondered about our relationship with God, do we ever tell him that he is all we want rather than what we want from him. He wants us to seek his face not just his hands, and the Mary and Martha story shows us that God thinks the same about us.
So a challenge for those of us who are not naturally like Mary’s to learn afresh to sit, to wait, to seek his face even when we become restless -especially when we become restless- learn to embrace the pain and discomfort to encounter God, often in a deeper and more intimate way.
Then as I thought more, and deeper, about this story Martha is not heard of again in scripture but Mary appears later, probably the Mary at the cross and by the empty tomb meeting the risen Jesus. Perhaps from sitting at his feet Mary was able to recognise his voice when he called her name, realising he was not a gardener but the resurrected Lord.
Perhaps intimacy is investing in the depth of relationship that not only ‘stays the course’ but has the depth to withstand the turbulence of the Christian life.
So let’s learn to stop and seek the Lords face.