Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: GRATE (11/19/15)
- TITLE: Nothing More, Nothing Less, Nothing Else
By Jennifer Woodley
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Martha, resembling a mini whirlwind, flew into the kitchen. Plonking the fresh produce down, she began bustling about. Washing, chopping, grating, kneading, stirring and cooking; Martha busied herself with the meal preparations. Her hands flew fast, almost keeping pace with the agitated accusations that tore through her mind. “Didn’t Mary notice or care about the work that lay ahead? What was she thinking of? Had she forgotten who was visiting today?” Martha wondered in disbelief. The Teacher was coming with his friends and to not provide a satisfying, delicious meal would be shameful. Martha could not bear the dishonor that might result from such neglect.
Now it seemed to Martha that Mary’s mind, in these times when they were expecting important company, was often neglectful of what truly mattered most. Shame on her! Once again Mary had left her older sister in the lurch; leaving her with the responsibility of domestic duties. It wasn’t fair. Indignant, Martha pushed the tray of rolls into the oven. She stared at the fiery furnace. The blaze reflected the raging inferno of Martha’s thoughts.
Mary stirred and stretched contentedly. Rising slowly from the bed, she remembered that this morning Jesus and his friends were calling. Mary looked forward to listening to the Teacher. His instructions were deep and rich, offering Mary sound guidance in these troubled times under Roman rule. Slipping into her day dress and splashing cool water over her face, Mary hoped Martha would not fuss too much. Jesus would want their company more than her sister’s marvelous meal. Mary sighed; Martha’s strong pride would be her downfall. If only she would forget all else and give herself fully to Jesus today.
Mary stilled herself and listened. Instinctively she could feel her sister’s deep agitation as she clattered about cooking. Martha would be angry with her – again. Yet despite how irritated Martha was, Mary resolved that she would not be distracted from what was most important this morning. Being with Jesus was what mattered most; Martha would not keep her from this.
Mary weaved her way through the group of men, offering each a mug of cool water. She placed a tray generously laden with fruit on the table before them and then settled comfortably on the floor. Jesus began to speak, Mary relaxed, listening eagerly to him. Suddenly, Martha abruptly burst into the room.
“Jesus,” she exploded like a firecracker, “don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
Jesus turned to Martha and smiled wearily. His heart broke for this beautiful woman, his dear friend. “Martha,” he said “you are worried and distracted by many things. Mary has chosen what is most important in this moment, and she will be remembered for it. Come, Martha, leave the food you offer me, settle your entire self right here and let me nourish you with the food I offer. This is all that matters to me. I desire you, Martha, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.
Martha stared at Jesus. “Did he really mean that?” she wondered. “Could it be that all he desires is me, not what I can give to him?” It was so simple; Jesus had no other expectations other than to have Martha in his presence. Martha was astonished, yet deep inside, relieved. She wondered if she really could cease her scurry, and surrender the part of her that wanted to strive and prove herself to Jesus. Martha looked hard at her sister and understood. Mary’s apparent neglect had grated on Martha so much, for so long. Mary the younger was now Mary the wiser. Martha’s next words felt so freeing, words that released the chains of expectation she had unwittingly placed upon herself.
“Lord, forgive me. I’ve put everything else before you, including my pride. Thank you for helping me to see this clearly.”
Mary smiled as Martha sat close by. They would talk later. Right now only one thing was needed, and they both knew what that was.
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