Marti looked around her house and frowned. All day, she’d been scrubbing floors, polishing furniture, scouring the bathrooms. The house sparkled but she still had the food to prepare. Plus, she needed to do her hair, set out the chairs, and select some appropriate music to play softly in the background.
She glanced at her watch. Gasp! 5:00! In only two hours, her guests would arrive. What did she get herself into? She’d better get busy.
The doorbell rang, followed by the door opening and footsteps in the foyer. “Marti, it’s me!”
Mary. Her godsend of a sister.
Marti rushed to the front door. “Good – you’re early. You can set out the chairs and maybe vacuum the living room carpet. I need to get the hors d'oeuvres ready. I made those little tomato and mozzarella bites Colleen loves. And I want to pick out some music. What do you think? Gaither? Or something a little more contemporary?”
Mary laughed. “Quit being a Martha. It’s just the eight of us. You’d think you were preparing for a visit from the queen or something.”
“Colleen practically is the queen; she’s the pastor’s wife. Everything has to be perfect.”
Mary rolled her eyes. “We’ll be studying the Bible. Nobody will be looking at your floors. Well, except maybe Ginny. She has a habit of running her finger over bookshelves when she thinks no one is looking.” She giggled.
“There’s a rag in the bathroom cupboard. Would you mind giving the shelves one last swipe?”
“Well, I wanted to go over my notes from last week...”
Marti looked over her shoulder as she flitted off to the kitchen to prepare the hors d'oeuvres. “Don’t you dare. There’s plenty of time for that. Right now, first things, first.”
The women arrived promptly at seven to a sparkling clean house, Selah playing softly in the background, and the table beautifully set. Marti was being the eloquent hostess.
Mary often wished her Marti would lighten up. She stressed about the silliest things.
“More coffee, anyone?” Marti appeared from the kitchen, coffee carafe in hand, forehead glistening, tight smile on her lips. She looked weary.
“Why don’t you put that down, sis? Come and join us. We’re just about to start.”
“Oh, you go ahead. I’ll be out in a sec.” She disappeared again.
Mary turned her attention to the group. Colleen was talking about where they left off in Romans last week. Before long, the seven ladies were deep in discussion about God’s grace. Mary loved listening to others’ opinions and thoughts on God’s Word. She always came away from Bible Study with a fresh perspective and a new hunger for God.
Every so often, Marti would appear and sit down for a moment, but then get up again. While Mary noticed her clearing dishes, refilling coffee cups, and fussing at the buffet table, she was so engrossed in the discussion that, honestly, she didn’t give it much thought. When the ladies were saying goodbye, she took a better look at her sister.
“Thank you, Marti, for opening up your home for the evening. Your house is lovely. The food was wonderful. You make an excellent hostess.” Colleen pulled Marti into a hug. “But next time, I hope you’ll be able to join us.”
When the house was silent, Mary noticed Marti’s eyes brimming with tears. “I do make an excellent hostess, don’t I?” Marti asked.
Compassion swept over Mary for her sister and she embraced her tightly. “You’re a great hostess.”
“A little too good, maybe.” Marti pulled away and sniffed. “Why do I always do that? I get so busy with making sure everything looks perfect...” her voice trailed off.
“Well, sis, tonight, we talked about God’s grace. And I think He has an extra dose handy, just for you.” Mary smiled.
Marti swiped at her eyes. “But I missed out. I didn’t learn anything. Well, except to never again offer my home for Bible Study.”
Mary laughed then regarded her sister. “Do you remember what you said earlier about first things, first?”
Marti’s eyes softened. “Hmmm. And now, before I put away the chairs and tackle the rest of those dishes, I have something I should do first, right?” She picked up her Bible off the end table.
“See? You did learn something tonight.” Mary winked. She shut the door and thanked God for opening her sister’s eyes a little. Through a Martha-moment, maybe He’d taught her a valuable lesson, indeed.
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