I usually pack my weekends full to the gills with errands and “to do’s”. I’m one of those people who can’t quite fathom people like my hubbie Lyle who finds it easy to kick back and relax with a book or even watch a golf game on TV. Groceries, food and school prep, cleaning (this one feels the least important!), running; all these fill my days and evenings. I’m a typical “Martha”, a reference to the New Testament story of the two sisters Mary and Martha. Martha was running around serving food to Jesus, but Mary was just soaking up his company. Jesus gently chided Martha – “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things but only one thing is needed.” (Luke 10:41-42) In the midst of a distracted and busy to-do list, the last thing us Martha types want to hear is “Only one thing is needed”, but this is what my good friends often remind me of. Being distracted by the many things can be a way of avoiding the one true thing, as if I don’t even want to hope that God exists.
Last Saturday was one such Martha day. Sometimes getting a list done is focused and even joyful when my perspective is good, but this day I was distracted by body aches. This can be a fast track to my view of the world getting small and miserly, like Scrooge in the Christmas Carol before his conversion. I might has well been a whiny kid with all the inward discontent rumbling around.
But one event on the to-do list brought me to the “one thing” Jesus reminded Martha of, and that was music practice.
I am blessed to have two friends, Eldon and Marilyn, who love music and who serve as music leaders with me for our house church Watershed. We honestly don’t do anything fancy, but it’s amazing what two guitars and some heartfelt singing can do for the soul. With Marilyn’s great voice and Eldon’s “melt your heart” guitar playing, more often than not, we end up being met by the music.
Our routine is to get together, read the scripture for the coming Sunday, and figure out what songs would fit with the themes. We are usually three frumpy people caught up in our busy days, but something happens when we begin to sing together. On this Saturday, I couldn’t help but notice how the music became a balm for the earlier discontent. It is hard to describe exactly what I mean by this. I certainly don’t mean it in a sugary or flaky way. It’s more like I was reminded that there’s a bigger Story than the particulars of how I’m feeling at any given moment, which I know can be as variable as the clouds or sun that come and go. It felt like a relief actually, remembering that my small story is not all there is. My heart grew softer again and the to do list certainly didn’t feel as pressing. Like Mary exemplified, just being is good enough.
Martin Luther, the 16th century leader of the Reformation, once said that when we sing, we pray twice as well. I often think of his words when singing becomes praying for the 3 of us. “Heal the scars of division,” we sang. “Bind us together.” And I was reminded through another of my favorites, that instead of sitting in discontent, I can “cast my cares on God, for He cares for me.”
The criteria for “Where was God in my day?” is that my small world becomes bigger and that peace settles in where discontent used to be. It’s not a peace that is disconnected with the tough things of life, but a peace that comes from knowing that no matter what the weather, there’s a mysterious presence that will accompany me. Being aware of God is the one thing that is needed, but I don’t even need to worry if I mess that goal up, because God always remembers me and keeps reminding me that I’m not alone.
By the way, today’s picture is from http://www.vladstudio.com, a website with amazing pictures.