Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Time-consuming (02/24/11)
TITLE: Mary and Martha and Billy
By Barbara Lynn Culler
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Billy and his family were participants at a Joni and Friends Family Retreat, and I was the Short Term Missionary volunteer assigned to this family for the week. It was exhausting work, both physically and mentally. As volunteers, we spent long days interacting and playing with the kids who had disabilities, as well as their non-disabled siblings. The parents and other adults with disabilities were at separate meetings structured to encourage and restore, and to share the Plan of Salvation. The Gospel was also taught daily to the kids in the form of stories,crafts and role-playing.
I used hard-to-get vacation time to attend this special camp, besides paying my own tuition, and for me, there was no rest and relaxation because my time was consumed with the care and attention to Billy and his parents.
It was worth every exhausting moment.
The Gospel of Luke tells the story of Martha, who was stressed out in her efforts as a hostess for Jesus. She was upset that her sister, Mary, was allowed to spend time with the guest, instead of assisting in the busywork of entertaining visitors. After she complained a few times, Jesus responded with:
“Martha, Martha…you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:41,42 NIV
Martha was doing what she knew needed to be accomplished, but was resentful that Mary did not help out. Jesus was trying to teach her that it’s not a matter of the tasks that need to be done, but the reasons they’re being carried out. Perhaps Mary should have offered to help in the kitchen; we don’t know what really happened. Neither do we know whether Martha understood Jesus’ reasoning nor if she, herself, was able to spend quality time with her guest of honor. But we do recognize that what Jesus was saying is that each job in ministry has a purpose.
Near the end of the week at camp, a baptism was held in the early evening. The retreat was located in a city that had natural hot mineral springs, and a large spa was built to contain the soothing waters. I observed Billy intently watching the proceedings and he would squeal, wiggle his body and clap in glee when another camper was baptized. As the evening drew to a close, the pastor asked if anyone else would like to be baptized, and Billy’s hand shot up. That particular event was the highlight of the week for me, and made all the sleep deprivation and lack of down time worth it.
My yearly vacation time was depleted and I was exhausted by the time the retreat ended, but my heart was full, and the blessings far out-weighed the fatigue. My job at the retreat was much like Martha’s, as it involved the fulfilling of needed tasks. Yet, the outcome was like that of Mary’s, in that it was like spending time at the feet of Jesus.
I’ve lost touch with Billy and his family, but often wonder how they are after all these years. At the time of the retreat, Billy’s father was not a Christian, but he watched and listened and took it all in. More than a decade has passed since that retreat and Billy would be a young adult now. I wonder if that special night had any eternal impact on his dad. I can only hope and pray that as a result of our gifts of time and love, the family will carry on to glorify Christ.
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