Seeking that I might Serve

6 Sep

Summer has slipped by so quickly this year. Maybe it’s because of a later ending of the school year due to our snowy winter or maybe because I’m growing up and time seems to move faster as the years pass, but whatever the reason, summer is coming to a close.

The heat of Summer is being replaced by the crisp September air and I am about to begin my fourth year of service in a place that has become so dear to me. As I fold the brightly colored clothes of summer, preparing them for their winter home in storage, it seems that I was  just unpacking them not too long ago. Afternoon cook-outs will soon be substituted by hayrides and bonfires. Staying up late and sleeping in will be no longer as the alarm sounds before sunrise beckoning me to the responsibilities of a classroom and the teaching of ten precious students I am so blessed to call mine.

I am grateful for where the Lord has me today. As I look back on Summer 2010, I do so in praise of my gracious God. He has done so much in my heart over the past three months. He has taught me so much, and yet the more I learn, the more I realize I need to learn. I am learning that I will always be learning.

At the beginning of every school year, I always seem to have this phrase from so many verses in Psalms on my mind.

“Teach me, O Lord…”

I find myself, like David, longing to be taught though I am in the position of teacher. Though my lesson plans have been carefully prepared and my classroom is arranged and ready for my students, I realize that I am not yet ready to teach.

I think of Martha and Mary. Two women that shared a love for Jesus unparalleled by many in Scripture. They had come to know Him well. They had seen Him work miracles first hand bringing hope to their broken hearts when it seemed long gone. They both loved Jesus and there’s no question about it, but Martha struggled in an area that Mary didn’t. Unfortunately, I think I’m more like Martha than Mary.

Martha had a servant’s heart. She wanted everything to be in tip-top shape when hosting friends for fellowship in her home especially when one of those friends was Jesus. She was determined to make sure everything was just so. However, Martha was quick to let the service get in the way of truly serving. We find her in Luke chapter ten flustered and fussy when things weren’t going they way she wanted them to. 

Mary, on the other hand, knew that a clean house and good food where imperative when entertaining, but in her heart those things just weren’t as important as they were to Martha. She loved company but was more interested in getting to know them than whether or not the food was superbly prepared. I think Mary was better at seeing the bigger picture, of realizing the preciousness of the moment. This  gave Mary the ability to sit and “hear his word,” (v.39) while her sister rushed frantically from room to room ensuring that every detail was in place.

Mary realized that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s not everyday that Jesus Christ stops by for supper! Martha missed out on enjoying Christ’s company because she was so focused on the details.

Yes, Jesus was hungry and in need of nourishment, but He explained that there was something more important,   “…Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (v.41-42)

I wonder what their memories of that day were after the dishes had been washed and Jesus departed to continue His earthly ministry?

I think Mary’s were happy memories, memories of time with her Lord, of the Truth He taught her during that short visit. I’m sure she was thankful she chose “the good part.” (v.42)

I think Martha’s were memories of regret, wishing she hadn’t wasted the time she had with Him so concerned about things that meant very little in the long run.

But I am certain they both learned an invaluable lesson that day.

Service before seeking is pointless. It leaves us serving “cumbered” (v.40) and not carefree and joyful as we should be. Martha wasn’t wrong for wanting to present a good meal and nice accommodations for her Guest, but she missed out because she missed the Guest, Himself. I’m sure her grouchy spirit affected the spirit of those visiting that day.

Planning and preparing for my classes is wise and necessary but if that’s where I leave it, I’ll miss it too. My students will miss out on having a teacher who is in love with Jesus and will probably end up with a teacher who is not very good at teaching.

The older I get and the more He grows me up into Him, I am more aware of the necessity of beginning the day as a student of Scripture prior to standing before my students. Regardless of how many verses I have memorized or how many studies I’ve done, the need will never be met this side of Heaven. Each morning I need the fresh oil, new manna, and great grace that comes from my Teacher alone. I cannot find it anywhere else. I cannot find it even in the Truth that satisfied me yesterday. The arrival of a new morning means new mercy is to be sought.

We all know that a dinner of leftovers will never replace the tastes and flavors found in a freshly made meal. The same is true in our walks with the Lord. When He created Adam, He placed within him a need for daily fellowship and companionship which can only be met by our Lord, Himself. We may think, “I did my devotions last night so I’m good for today.” but I’ve found that nothing compares to daily, constant communion with Christ. I don’t do well when I try to live on leftovers. I am usually grouchy and certainly not in the right spirit to teach.

I must be taught first. I must seek before I serve.

So as we turn another page on the calendar and the season of Summer quickly fades bringing Autumn’s arrival this September, I find myself at Jesus’ feet praying, “Teach me, O Lord.”

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