The magnificent tree in our backyard has been gaining in stature and strength since it was put in as a sapling 27 years ago.
It was ready to hold a swing.
We bought one of those round swings which can effectively hold 660 pounds of humanity.
There were seven on the swing at once, not even close to the maximum weight allowance–but no room for any more bodies.
The kids didn’t care. It didn’t matter to them that they were squished, sitting atop one another, crowded and sweaty.
Uncle Taylor was pushing them as high as he could.
The squeals of “higher, higher” could be heard across the yard.
It might not have been the most comfortable position to fly high in, but they enjoyed being together in this experience. The smaller ones held on to the bigger ones, and everyone felt a sense of gratitude for the fun of it.
It’s difficult at times for adults to have that level of flexibility, to be in the moment without a detailed plan, to enjoy the spontaneity of sudden fun. I know how frequently I miss the blessing of the moment because I thought it should look like something else.
It didn’t turn out as I believed it should.
Jesus and His disciples were headed to Jerusalem when they made a stop in the town of Bethany, at the home of two sisters and a brother. Not a planned stop, but hospitality was a highly respected value then, so Martha welcomed them into her home. She began preparations for a meal for the thirteen guests.
Even with today’s appliances that make meal preparation simpler, that’s a large crowd. Add the three siblings, and the number rises to sixteen.
Jesus was sharing His teachings with His followers, and Mary was sitting at His feet, listening to all He said. Martha wasn’t happy; she needed help in the kitchen and felt it only fair that her sister would assist her.
She was bothered enough to complain to Jesus; it wasn’t right that she should do all the work while Mary sat and listened. She wanted Him to make Mary help her.
I can just imagine how kindly Jesus gazed at this distracted and anxious woman, so concerned over doing it all.
“But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.’” Luke 10:41-42
What had Mary discovered? Was Martha wrong in wanting to serve her guests to the best of her ability?
Martha wasn’t wrong, but what Mary chose was to be with Jesus, to sit and listen. To not be overwhelmed with doing. Jesus didn’t say serving a meal was wrong, but at times, our busyness can take the focus away from what we need.
Time with Jesus. To listen and learn. To find the opportunities to simply be, even when the plan was to do.
We put so much value in productivity that we often find it tedious to stop and listen, to God and to others.
Listening and being is where we learn and grow.
Just like the kids, we don’t need to rethink the swing.
We need to enjoy the ride.