It’s my birthday today and I am in reflective mood.
I am sitting in our lovely bungalow in the beautiful countryside enjoying the sunshine streaming through the window and the quietness all around me. The only noises I can hear are the chiming of our kitchen clock and the occasional farm vehicle going down the road. It is only noon and I have had two birthday phone calls – one from Australia – as well as countless text messages and a myriad of facebook messages. I am feeling blessed. And thankful.
Not too many months ago, I was in a very different place. Confused. Hurt. Grieving. Feeling betrayed. Anxious. Fearful. Wondering what the future held. O yes, I was holding on to God, clinging to Him and His word – but feeling the pain of rejection, grief, loss. Within 18 months we had lost three close family members and we faced a major move from both home and work. Yes, I did wonder what the future held.
In those days of waiting on God and wondering, several people gave us a verse which occurs several times in the Bible but usually goes something like this:
‘He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.’ II Sam.22:20; Psalm 18:19; Psalm 31:8: Psalm 118:5.
The physical ‘spacious place’ which God has brought us to serves as a daily reminder of the ‘spacious place’ which God has promised to each of us in His word. He promises to rescue us and bring us to a place of rest. This morning I read this beautiful promise: ‘My Presence shall go with you and I will give you rest’ Exodus 33:14.
And I got to thinking about Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. There are 3 places in the Bible where we read about Mary (and I am grateful to my husband for this outline):
Mary waited at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:38-42)
My husband preached a great sermon about this passage on Sunday morning at Glenabbey Church. If you want details of that, just head on over to his blog. Suffice to say here that, while Martha busied herself to the point of distraction with the tasks of the day, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to His teaching. She was in the posture of a disciple, waiting to hear instructions from the Teacher. What was Jesus’ attitude to her? Jesus commended her: ‘Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her’ (v.42).
Mary wept at the feet of Jesus (John 11:28-35)
Her brother had died and Jesus had not come on time to prevent his death. Now Jesus had come but it was too late. ‘When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”’ (v.32). Did Jesus rebuke her for the way she spoke to Him? or for her lack of faith? No, ‘When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.’ (v.33). And in verse 35 we read ‘Jesus wept’ also. Even though He knew He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, He shared her sorrow. He demonstrated that heartfelt mourning in the face of death does not indicate lack of faith but honest sorrow at the reality of suffering and death. This was not how it was meant to be. And it is appropriate for us to react with sorrow and sadness.
Mary worshipped at the feet of Jesus (John 12:1-7)
Mary takes a jar of very expensive ointment and anoints the feet of Jesus while he reclines at the table in her home. Undoubtedly she was misunderstood. She was criticised: “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” (v.5). But what was Jesus’ response to her? “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” (v.7).
Mary waited. Mary wept. Mary worshipped. At the feet of Jesus. And Jesus commended her.
I’d like to be like Mary.