Hey there, y’all! Are you done with Christmas yet? Our family isn’t. We have at least one more celebration out-of-state to go. But it’s been good. It’s been good to be with friends and family and Jesus. Hopefully you’ve had some wonderful times with those you love, too. I was traveling so much, the season was sort of a blur, but we managed. As I write this, I should be packing the house, but I’m tired. So, I’ll do something physically easier… I’ll write for you! Find a comfy spot and a cuppa something. Hopefully you can relax a bit!
Recently, I traveled to Israel. We were able to go to Bethany this time; last time we couldn’t get there. We went to the church that commemorates Mary and Martha and Lazarus, including the traditional spot for Lazarus’ tomb. There were four murals in the small chapel. Jesus telling Martha that Mary had the good part; Lazarus’ being raised; Martha telling Jesus she knew He was the Messiah. But my favorite mural was the picture of Mary anointing Jesus with the oil. I was captivated, mesmerized by that simple artwork. The only problem was that it was on the back wall of the chapel. The Pilgrimage priest was at the front, leading the group in song and prayer. But I couldn’t tear my eyes away from that mural at the back of the church.
Even though it was the ‘wrong direction’, and not what the group was doing, that piece of art was speaking to my heart and soul. Y’all know I love music, and it’s a very important part of my worship. Y’all also know that I love prayer. I was torn between being a part of the Pilgrimage group, and being alone in wonder with the Lord. Ever felt that way? Have you ever been in a situation where the whole church is focused on one thing, but your heart is drawn to another facet of Jesus’ working in your life? Have you ever gotten ‘stuck’ on a related passage of Scripture you know, when the pastor has long since moved on to another set of verses? Has the Lord ever spoken to your heart through a banner or piece of art or stained glass, and you felt ‘distracted’ from the preaching? Where do yo look?
Or how about in the dailies of life. What do you focus on? The bills that are looming from Christmas? The second job you’re sure you’re going to need because you maxed out your credit card this year? The back to school routines to prepare for, or the house repairs that you’ve noticed need to be done? Maybe you or a loved one has health issues that seem to demand every waking moment. Or maybe you’re one of those who is anxious about the taxes that are coming due. Either way, life has its way of screaming for our attention. So many ways, so many directions. Where do you look?
Where God is working in YOUR life? Don’t look at the things that are shouting for attention, but in those quiet moments when you can fix your attention just on Him, what are you drawn to? Are you drawn to a comforting or challenging Scripture? Drawn to His love and comfort in a difficult life situation? Drawn to some ministry opportunity?
Bethany has a lot to teach all of us. He said Mary had the good part, sitting at His feet. He didn’t say she had the only part! Martha gets a bad rap. When Lazarus had died, Mary couldn’t even come out of the house in her grief. Martha came out, welcomed Jesus, and questioned Him directly. Then when He questioned her faith, she responded that she knew He was the Messiah. He then called Mary, who believed that if Jesus had been there earlier, Lazarus would not have died. Jesus joined her in her grief, without correction, and then raised their brother.
They each had faith, they each loved Jesus. They displayed their faith in different ways. Jesus rewarded them both, and their brother as well.
How about you? Who do you say Jesus is? What sort of faith do you exercise? Are you the pray-er or the do-er? Where is He directing your focus today?
Or maybe you don’t know Him. Maybe you have no idea what He might be asking – but don’t be afraid. He loves you so much and would never ask anything that would not be the best for you! Find a pastor or a priest and sit down for a conversation. Let them help you redirect your focus to Jesus and His peace, and away from the craziness and turmoil of the world. He may even do a miracle or two in your life if you’ll look to Him!