The Good Portion

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42 ESV). Sometimes I browse Pinterest looking for another project to take on. Inevitably I find myself pretty far afield from the original topic I may have entered into the search engine. Recently I found this picture of a bench set near some stumps. It seemed to tell such a story of life that I couldn’t resist writing a little from the perspective of living in a world of continual loss. The truth is that there is nothing except the Lord that we can count on. Nothing is unchangeable. I’m sure when this bench was placed in this spot it was believed to be in the perfect place. The stumps indicate some large trees located just the right distance from the bench were present. Their shade must have been perfect on those hot summer days. The color changing in their leaves would have provided for a beautiful display in the fall. The new growth of spring must have been quite an encouragement sitting in the quiet, cool shelter listening to birds sing and feeling the breeze gently blow. As you can see, that’s not the setting now. There is still some shade, but the disease that took the trees has now left a mere shadow of what once was; the stumps provide no more than an ugly reminder of what was once perfect. The past has slipped away. Life can be like that. We come to trust in things we think will always be there when we grow older. It is easy to build our identity around those things. The truth is that none of these things are certain. Even a strong faith does not shield us from loss. Of course, God knows what’s best for us and all he brings into our life is for our eternal joy. However, it is only in retrospect that we can find comfort in it. In the moment of loss, we feel overwhelmed. We want to cling to what we had. God is the only constant in life. He is our Rock. He is the only one that will be with us all the days of our life. And he will not be taken away. Our reading today beautifully depicts this reality. Martha was anxious about many things. I understand Martha’s frenzy. Things needed to be done. There was no time to waste. Yet Martha didn’t ask Jesus what he needed; she assumed she knew. Mary simply hungered for Jesus. She needed his food; he didn’t need hers. Mary had chosen the good portion, which would not be taken away. No one is exempt from suffering. All of us will experience loss in this life. When we do, we have two choices. We can fixate on our losses, get angry and even walk away from God because he didn’t give us the life we wanted. We can assume that prayer doesn’t work and that there’s no point to faith. Or we can accept that...

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