My goodness. It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? So much as happened since I last wrote to you. As many of you know, my mom won her battle against cancer on June 21, 2017.
Yet, as she stepped into the arms of Jesus, those of us left behind on earth were shattered.
My mom’s death wrecked me.
God is so faithful, though. I am a firm believer that our God wastes nothing. Every experience, good or bad, every tear, whether shed in joy or in sorrow…our God uses them all. The first year after my mom’s heavenly coronation was so tough. I used to talk with her every day, often more than once. In all the ways I’ve missed her, not hearing her voice has been the worst.
But God was so faithful. Out of my grief came The Art of Amen: A Creative Prayer Experience. I’ll share more in the coming weeks, as it took a village for this project to see fruition. I can’t wait to highlight each person who fervently prayed and supported the writing of this book. It’s so special to me, and it was born from a deep place within my soul.
Please let me share it with you along with the first person I’d love to thank for her belief in this message and the contribution she made to The Art of Amen.
Friends, meet Katie Reid.
Writer, Singer, Speaker, Mom, Friend.
She encompasses all of these roles and does so gracefully. Katie is the author of Made Like Martha: Good News for the Woman Who Gets Things Done, a super encouraging book about finding grace and freedom from all of our Martha-like tendencies.
“Doers need to be affirmed in their innate design to do rather than sit, yet also be reminded that they don’t have to overdo it in order to be worthy.”
This message resonated with me so deeply, and I actually talk a little about this in the The Art of Amen.
If you’re like Katie and me, you can relate to the Martha we meet in the Gospels of Luke and John. Her sister Mary and brother Lazarus (whom Jesus raised from the dead in John 11:1–44) are also present in Scripture. Jesus was quite familiar with the family, and John 11:5 tells us he loved them dearly. However, it’s the story of Martha in the Gospel of Luke that makes me want to rethink my color-coded calendars.
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
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 10:38–42 NLT).
Even though Martha knew Jesus well, he was still a guest in her home. The passage in Luke 10 oozes with Martha’s anxiety. There’s dinner to be made. Do we have everything we need, and will there be enough? The house is a wreck. Seriously, stuff is strewn everywhere. Does no one else bother to pick up his or her things? Who will help her clean? And because Martha is the one worried about dinner and cleaning, we can imagine she probably didn’t have time to change into clean clothes and fix her face and hair. She was vibrating with feelings of, “Why isn’t anyone else helping?”
Then there’s her sister, Mary, just sitting calmly and peacefully at the feet of Jesus. While Martha stands sweating from her efforts, there is sweet Mary, sitting without a care in the world. Can Mary not see the dirt on the floor and that the table still needs to be set? Martha is ready to jerk her sister up by her hair. We can tell Martha has had more than she can stand when she implores Jesus to make Mary get up and help her. Haven’t you ever felt that deep frustration when you feel like all that needs to be done rests firmly upon your shoulders alone?
But what does Jesus say?
He says, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her” (Luke 10:41–42 MSG).
Jesus talking to Martha, his love for her beyond anything she could humanly comprehend. His love and calmness was likely evident in his tender tone as he spoke to Martha.
Can you imagine?
“It’s okay, dear Martha. You are okay. So many things weigh down your heart, and these details feel oh so important. Yet they are not. Only one thing is needed, and coming to me is the perfect thing to do.
“You came to me asking for help, and I want to lighten your load. I can carry the burden when you set those worries and concerns at my feet. You are released from preparing the perfect dinner, from having the perfectly cleaned home that is decorated just so, from being the perfect hostess, from having the perfectly coiffed hair. All of those things are fleeting, but my love for you is not. The things of this world are nothing compared to the life I have prepared for you.”
When it became clear that God was going to heal my mom his way, not the way we had prayed, it took me to my knees. Just like I imagined he once spoke to Martha in the way she needed to hear him, I heard Jesus whispering words of comfort and love to me.
“It’s okay, dear Catherine. You are okay. So many things weigh on your heart, and these details feel oh so important. Yet they are not. Only one thing is needed, and coming to me is the perfect thing to do.
“You came to me asking for help, and I want to lighten your load. I can carry the burden when you set those worries and concerns at my feet. You are released from worrying over your mom, for she is mine as are you, from keeping the perfectly paced life in the midst of this painful storm, from being strong for all those around you. That is for me to do. Earthly pain and suffering is fleeting, but my love for you is not. The things of this world are nothing compared to the life I have prepared for you. Trust me, daughter.”
And I do. I do trust him. Because out of this dark, dark place came encouragement that I want to share with each of you. I seem to transition from busy season to busy season, some more joyful than others…but through them all, I’ve struggled to find a quiet time each day to pray. It wasn’t until after my mom’s death that I realized there are so many creative prayer offerings we can share with our Creator.
Instead of feeling defeated when my daily plan was shot to you-know-what, I learned to embrace a more relational prayer life with God.
It set me free from the rigid, perfect plan I always imagined for myself.
Katie recently invited me to share encouragement for our fellow Marthas on her blog. I invite you to the discussion as we encourage other mamas who struggle with an imperfect prayer life. We pick up the discussion from today’s blog post there…
Thank you for the grace, friends. I needed space to grieve, to sit quietly in God’s lap seeking comfort and the reassuring love of my Heavenly Father. He held me, rocked me, and reminded me how much he loves me. With the writing of The Art of Amen, it’s like God gave me a squeeze, gently pushed me off his lap, and said, “Okay, love. It’s time to get back to work.”
So here I am.
Ready to encourage, ready to serve, and ready to do the work I know God has called me to do.
Thank you for waiting for me. Imagine me putting my arm around you right now. I’m suited up and ready to head back into the mission field, and I’m so happy you are here.
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)