Quinn Caldwell did it again!  The Devotional on “Clean House” finally got my prayer/blog juices going!  Most of us raised in Catholic/Christian church communities remember the story about Martha and Mary.

Some say “cleanliness is next to Godliness” and I go along with those who say “cleanliness is next to impossible”.  A story circulated when I was a child about a woman on her hands and knees in some public building, scrubbing.  As her arm shot forward she whispered “I do”, back “my work”, forward “for the glory”, and back “of God”, over and over again.  My thought is that in every task, there is an opportunity to praise God.

Now back to Mary and Martha. As I read again the well-known verses, one word jumped at me: “distracted”.  Hmm. Mary-Martha-wordle As I was commuting to work, the morning pair on Air1 (Christian radio. I love the rock & roll!)  The discussion between the songs was on multi-tasking vs. being present to one task.

Bingo!   That’s me alrighty!

Here’s how I now read the back story on the passage.  Jesus’ was invited by Martha.  Likely he and the apostles needed a roof over their heads for the night.  Or perhaps he wanted to speak with a small group.  It’s possible Martha and Mary had gone out to hear Jesus earlier and as the crowd headed home, Martha said she would welcome Jesus into her home.  At any rate, Martha invited Jesus.

Somehow I suspect it was an impulsive act, else the house would have been fully prepared before Jesus’ arrival (Right?  If Jesus were coming to your house tomorrow, would you stay up all night cleaning and cooking?  I sure would and I’d be praising God for the creation of the ‘open 24 hours’ grocery store, too!)

So Jesus enters the house.  Chances are Mary (who might not even live with Martha) simply gravitated to Jesus.  She sat at his feet and listened.

If I were Martha, I likely would be hovering around the edge of the people, finding the cobweb I missed earlier and the grass the dogs brought in on their feet.  I’d be listening and multi-tasking.  You see, I can’t sit still when people are in my home unless it’s up to my standards (not perfect, but pretty good)!

So Jesus would be on the love-seat in our family room or maybe I talked him into taking my recliner.  Mary would be at his feet.  Followers who could fit would be in the family room end of the great-room and I’d be inching from the group to the kitchen.  And then I’d think, “Oh, Lord, let me be sure the bathroom is clean!”  Let me say, I wouldn’t begrudge Mary the opportunity to listen.  Oh NO, I would not!  But, if she really loved me, she’d be helping me, too.  We can listen and work!  We’ve been doing it since we were children.  (right?)

Now, would I go to Jesus to ask for intervention?  Unlikely.

Would I be wishing Mary would help?  Would I be trying to catch her eye and jerk my head to signal “come here”?  Might I crook a finger at her if she still didn’t come or wave my hand toward me? You bet I would! Here I’ve invited a great man into my home so we could listen, but she isn’t even helping!  The ingrate! Acting as if she’s too good to do housework!

But here’s the thing.  Mary was able to pay attention.  She could focus on Jesus and his words.   And Martha was catching the occasional word, I bet, while her mind would not stop racing of all that should be done.

Poor Martha, don’t hate her, realize that she is a victim of the circumstances with which she grew up.  She’d been taught to be more concerned about the state of the household than ANYTHING else (well, if she had children, their faces would be cleaned before she started on the house).

I’m often like Martha.  I find it hard to spend 20 minutes with Jesus (or any name for God) in the morning.  I don’t do it before I leave the house because I’d need to get up 20 minutes earlier.  I do it when I get to the office and the devotional shows up.  Sometimes I’ve found that it’s noon before I’ve finished reading the devotional.

Lately, I’ve found it hard to turn off the noise of my emotions and spend time with God in prayer.  And you know I love to pray and talk with God, but it’s been hard.

How are you like Martha?  What gets in your way?  What shares the time you could be listening with God?

Lest you now feel guilty, let’s go the other way too.  How are you like Mary?  What is it about God that draws your attention away from any other priority or item on your “to-do” list?

Perhaps you, like me, have been made human.

Mary n Martha-feet Jesus,

You call us o’er the tumult of our lives’ wild, restless sea; day by day your sweet voice soundeth saying “Christian, follow me!”

Almighty Architect,

Your voice can be heard over the tumult.  Your voice can be heard across the years.  Ever-changing, ever-the-same, you are the source and the solution; you are the cause and the effect.  You are the energy of love and creation.  Amazing!

Lord of the Light,

Show me today how to pay attention to you.  Pull me to focus only on you.  Amid distractions, remove my sight of them and my hearing of them.  Even if only for two minutes…  or even one, grant me moments in your glorious presence.  Make the light and the sound and the smell and the thought only of you.  I can’t do it on my own, even though I want to do it – so much.  With you, I can do all things.  You strengthen me!

Lord of Love,

You know the desires of my heart.  You know those for whom I pray, you hear me when I think their names.  Susan, Matt, CJ, Gary, Holly, Molly, all my sisters in my Monday night group that I miss, Carol’s neighbor, Steve, Chris and Kate, Ramya and Will, Meghan and her husband.  I thank you for the return to health of Thea and Lisa. And, I pray Lord, for my own health; help me find ways to strengthen my immune system and awake rested in the morning.

Generous Giver,

As I type on this technology and send it to friends through ways Mary and Martha would never have imagined, I thank you.  And I thank you for the distractions, for they are the sins I need to overcome.  Lord, I love you so much!

Jesus said to ask in his name, and I pray in the most holy name of Jesus,


To God be the glory!

© Melissa Pazen, 2013

Live Inspired:  pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!