Stone, wraps, and other impediments.

I wonder if Martha gets a bit of bum rap.  She’s the calculating one, knows what needs to be done and does it herself if necessary.  The list-maker, the bean counter.  Martha was the chief cook and bottle washer when Jesus came to visit her and her siblings.  She alone was the one who received a gentle rebuke from the Lord when she demanded that her sister, Mary, come and help her in the kitchen instead of sitting with the Master, listening and absorbing.

I bet Martha as the older one, the one who helped her little sister growing up to put on her clothes and lace up her sandals.  You know how older sibs are called upon in a family.  Insert all of that on Martha’s shoulders.

Now Mary, it’s possible that Mary is same woman mentioned in another of the Gospels as the “unclean” prostitute who broke the jar and anointed Jesus in an act of repentance for her now-former lifestyle. The jury is out on that one, but for argument’s sake…

In this context, I can perceive Martha’s frustration, helping to sacrificially raise her younger sister only to have her go off and ruin the family name.  Perhaps this is why no spouse is mentioned for Martha— in that culture once the family is disgraced, who wanted to marry into that?  If this is case, like the older brother in the parable of the prodigal, I get it.

Then their beloved brother dies. 

Interestingly, when Jesus finally decides to make an entrance, Mary is the one who stays behind, but it’s good ole’ practical Martha who goes out to faithfully meet the Master.  Of course, the first words out of her mouth are, guess what, cause and effect:

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

Problem defined, problem solved.  That’s Martha.  If Plan A didn’t transpire, she always had a Plan B.  It wasn’t, however, quite what she expected:

 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.

But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”

How often do I ask God for a miracle, only with the proviso that He does it my way.  Good grief, don’t open the tomb!  Don’t expose the decay and don’t make the smell of death public.  No, I like to keep things private.

I forget there was nothing private about Jesus dying on a cross—for me.

There is something about the things we keep hidden which allows them to fester and multiply.  I’ll try to deal with it on my own. If my first plan is tanked, then I’ll think of the next step, but by all means, let’s keep stench under control.

window-806899_1920Except life doesn’t actually work that way.  The only way Lazarus was going to walk out of that tomb was to roll away the stone and let him breathe God’s fresh air.

How’s your air quality today?

John 11:21,21,39 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Devilish details

IMG_20150103_172451138I have to fix this. 

If those words don’t actually cross through my brain, they certainly are present in some form somewhere in my psyche. 

I figure part of that pseudo-neurosis may just be hard-wired from birth.  Certainly being a nurse hasn’t helped it along.  When people know you’re a nurse, whether in the hospital or out, whether at work or at home, you’re expected to diagnosis and treat.  Everything.  Appendix?  Just give her a dull spoon, she can take care of it. Continue reading “Devilish details”

A rose by any other name…

Bob
A Goose bearing gifts: roses and camo. What more could a girl want??

My husband’s nickname is Goose (and variations thereof).  As the story goes, some of his high school basketball teammates knighted him with that moniker, lo, these many years past, and it stuck like glue—even with his own family.  Rarely do I hear anyone refer to him as “Bob” when around his brothers.  Or old friends.  Even his mom and dad called affectionately called him adopted the name for their first born!

Nicknames, like reputations (at least negative ones), can be quite tenacious.  Just ask the Apostle Thomas.  First word that Continue reading “A rose by any other name…”

Why Wait??

(full read at dawnlizjones.wordpress.com)

I am quickly becoming of the opinion that there is no better way to celebrate than to have friends over into the garden.  So far, I have had a small family reunion dinner, my oldest daughter’s “Skype” bridal shower (she was in California and one sister was home in Missouri, and the other sister was in New York City—hurray for technology!), a private evening bistro with my husband and his poetry, and a bluegrass birthday party.  One day, I thought I would ask a few girlfriends to come over for an “open air” breakfast in the late morning.  Two of these ladies are quite accomplished and creative gardeners, and my spot of earth was far behind what they have mastered.  In fact, there was still dirt laying around in various spots from fixing some of the stones in my yard.  But is a garden ever truly completed?  I tend to think that, since it is made of living things, then a garden must be viewed itself as a living organism, ever changing, ever challenging, fluid as opposed to finished.  It would be a shame to put off entertaining until I had enough…enough what?  Enough flowers, enough bird feeders and butterfly attractions?  And what for?  To impress them?  Not on my budget or expertise!

I wonder how often we fall into the same restrictive and lock-step way of thinking in other areas of life:

  • Can’t have the boss (or pastor, or in-laws, or fill in the blank) over until the house is big enough.
  • Can’t have children until we can pay to put them through college.
  • Can’t take a vacation from my job until the next deal is closed.
  • Can’t give money to my church until I get a raise.
  • Can’t play with the kids until the dishes are done. (Oh, I beg of you not to make that mistake!)  
  • And here’s the really big one: can’t tell someone about Jesus until I get my own spirituality together.

Our can’ts are camouflaged as responsibility, when in reality they may be precariously postponing what is really important for what is merely urgent (at best), or selfish (at worst).  Please don’t get me wrong; boundaries—whether they be relational, emotional, financial, to name a few—are important, but so is our choice of who (or Who) is Master of the garden gate.  I need to remember the story of Mary and Martha, two of Jesus’ good friends.  Martha was concerned with preparing to entertain Jesus, and Mary with actually entertaining Him by sitting attentively at His feet.  Who was being most productive?  Would Martha’s house ever be “good” enough to entertain the Son of God?  And yet, when the opportunity was presented, she was in danger of missing out on the best house guest ever!  Obviously, Jesus did not expect perfection (by cultural expectations) before making Himself gloriously and generously at home.

  • I would hope that the people with whom I associate will choose to identify me by my character, rather than by the square footage of my property. Let me honor God with the property of which I am His steward, and leave others’ opinions up to Him.
  • Certainly we have financial obligations to our people, but care must be taken to not overburden ourselves with future concerns over which we have little or no control.
  • Someone who is married to his job can find his marriage to his spouse dissolve without him being aware of it until it is too late. A vacation doesn’t have to be a long expensive undertaking, but a regularly planned evening away—ALONE—can bring health and vitality into not only a relationship, but also into the job as well. And a caution to stay-at-homes: this means you, too!  Check the chatter about the kids with your coat at the restaurant and focus on some exclusivity with your one and only.
  • We somehow feel that giving money to God is a chore, like getting our teeth pulled. We have to psych ourselves up for giving what we think we can’t afford, or for beating back the guilt feelings when we don’t. An Olympic diver doesn’t start learning his craft by jumping off the high dive.  Start small.  It’s okay to ask God to increase our salary, but I should ask Him to increase my giving first. 
  • Yes, dishes need to be done, and we are not to use any excuse for a slovenly lifestyle, but that whole “cleanliness is next to godliness” is not in the Word of God. Our children are a gift from the Lord, more than our dishes. They need us to let them know that in very tangible ways, and the most important is giving them of our time.
  • And, of course, the perfection of our lives is not the witness that Jesus is looking for. It is the consistency of love, and constancy of attendance on Him, of sincere repentance with corresponding behavioral decisions. It is His perfection of character that engulfs the flaws of mine.  Good grief!  How can I adequately bear witness and represent a Holy God!?  To feel any remnant of adequacy to this task is the epitome of pride and hubris.  No, I must not wait until I esteem myself a “better person”, and wholly rely on His Holy Spirit’s adequacy within me.

What opportunities are presented to us today? I want to be extremely careful to not allow them to pass by because of short-sighted nonsensical statements that include “can’t…until.”  On the contrary, I want to challenge myself to evaluate every self-imposed restriction that would threaten to put off what would bless someone—

—and many times that someone turns out to be me!