I mentioned in my first blog post that September the 30th was to be my confirmation into the Charismatic Episcopal Church. The church I have been attending for a little over a year is, I believe, the church home that God called me to. I feel that I can be myself there, which is something I have had a hard time with in churches in the past. I don’t blame those churches of course; all in all it was about finding the place where I was meant to be.
We recently moved into a new building, which was a very exciting event in the life of the church. The building we moved out of had been the home base of the church for fifteen years. Our new building is very nice and a bit larger so we can do much more with our ministry. The 30th was the day picked for the Bishop to come and consecrate the new building. It was also the day that many of us were to be confirmed or reaffirmed.
I love our church. I love that we are liturgical and yet also allow for the Holy Spirit to move. During my confirmation, the Bishop laid his hand on my head and prayed over me, then also prophesied over me. For those of you for which this is not a common occurrence, I want to explain that he was not engaging in some sort of fortune telling hocus pocus as many supposed “prophets” do. The best way I know to explain it (and the way I personally understand it), is that the Bishop prays for me and gets a sense about me, and God gives him words to help me find out who I am in Him. It isn’t fortune telling. It is almost more “present” telling. Also, as I have free will, I can readily ignore everything he says and choose not to live up to anything or try to follow God.
Each person received a recording of their prophecy, and I decided I wanted to type mine up and share it, along with my thoughts about it.
“…The Lord has given you the heart of Mary, the sister of Martha. I mentioned a word earlier in the sermon that God is raising up helpless lovers of Jesus. Song of Solomon talks about being lovesick, and the helpless are those who realize they can do nothing apart from Him. And God wants you to know that he has shaped you and brought you and is bringing you to a place where you’re understanding your own helplessness apart from God. But a helpless person can do all things through Christ who strengthens them. That’s gonna flow out of a Mary place, a place for your helpless love of Jesus – that the passion of your life is gonna be a worshiper. God’s gonna take you down the path, the extravagant path, of being a worshiper of God; and your heart is gonna be all about worshiping and about sitting at the feet of Jesus and doing that one thing. During this season that we’re in we’ve just come through this month of Elul and we’re in the days of Av all the way up to the 19th of October. Jewish people all over the world recite Psalm 27 twice a day and the heart of Psalm 27 is: This one thing I’ve asked, that I shall seek; that I shall dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life and behold the beauty of the Lord. And this is what is going to characterize your life: you’re gonna have a vision of the beauty of God. Your heart is going to be to seek Him and to sit before Him and to lay before Him and you’re going to be a worshiper of God and behold the beauty of the Lord. And that’s gonna be your life is beholding the beauty of the Lord and describing and relating the beauty of God to people.”
The thing that struck me the most as the Bishop spoke was his description of me as someone with the heart of Mary. For those of you who are not savvy in regards to Bible stories, I’ll share with you the story of Mary and Martha from the book of Luke:
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.
It was surprising at first to hear that I work from a Mary-like place. I have often had trouble with this particular story. I always felt I identified more with Martha. I grew up in the South, and was taught from a young age the importance of a work ethic. In fact, I thought that work ethic and religion were all tied up together. I thought to be a “good Christian” you had to strive and work yourself to the bone. Which sounds much less like grace and more like works to me, but I digress. Not only that, but I spend a great deal of my time making plans and worrying about what is happening next. I live in a state of anxiety, though I know this is neither healthy nor helpful.
I claim to love God and trust Him, which is true, and yet it is much more complicated in practice. I say I trust Him, but then I become anxious when I have to make a phone call to the bank, or make a trip out to buy groceries, or when I am applying for school or jobs. I want to rely on God to get me through things or to provide for me, and yet at the same time I want to be in control. I know being in control of your own life sounds freeing, but it really isn’t. It is scary and exhausting.
I realize worry is just part of life. We all have something we focus on and are concerned about. We all make plans and preparations and run around the house trying to make it spic and span. I do not think that work is a problem; but I do see how distraction can cause a disconnect between the Lord and me.
I yearn for relationship with Christ. I enjoy beauty. As I have mentioned before I love to paint. To write. To sing. To read beautiful stories and poetry. I enjoy praying and reading the Scriptures because that to me is a way to experience the beauty in this world. So, in truth, I am not so far from Mary as I used to think.
My opinion is that I operate with a Mary heart but a Martha mind. My desire is that I can change my pattern of thinking and focus on Christ. I want to have both a head and a heart that work together and choose what is better. Listening to Jesus and following Him.
You will notice Jesus never said that the work Martha was doing was wrong or bad. He only revealed her distraction and worry. Her actions were what seemed right. She was making a house ready for guests. She was being the good little homemaker. But her focus was not in the right place. Her focus should have been the heart of Jesus. She needed to feel her helplessness and be okay with it. She wanted Mary to get up off of her butt and help. Her feet were sore. She was cranky. I might have done the exact same thing. Yet, Jesus was telling her that Mary had the right idea all along. Seek Him first. Do not be anxious. Do not judge. Sit at the feet of Jesus, accept that you aren’t in charge of everything, and see what He has to say to you. I am no theologian or Bible scholar, but I would venture to say that Martha’s heart was probably not much different than Mary’s. She just had to recognize it.
I do have a Mary heart. I want to seek the Lord. I want to experience His beauty. I can do nothing without Him (except maybe worry and fret). I want to worship Him and share love and beauty with the world. I think that this blog is one way in which I can do that. Come, friends, put down that broom for awhile. Let the email wait to be checked. Take a day off. Come sit with me at the feet of Jesus. The lessons are worth it. Grace is beautiful.