Today’s scripture readings are great stories that speak to me about slowing down and focusing on God. In Exodus, we hear the story of Moses coming down from the mountain with the 10 commandments and encountering the golden calf. The psalmist proclaims, “Our fathers made a calf in Horeb and adored a molten image”. I find it interesting that the psalmist calls them “our fathers”, not those rotten guys from our past. In John, Lazarus has died and Martha greets Jesus proclaiming, “I have come to believe that you are the Christ”. And in Luke, the same Martha, impatiently tells Jesus to tell her sister Mary to get up off her lazy behind and help her. Christ’s response is a surprise.
I love the story of Moses, Aaron, the Israelites and the golden calf. How quickly the Israelites lose focus and forget God’s blessings. They want something pretty, new and shiny to worship. And when Moses confronts Aaron, his response? Hey, it’s not my fault. “You know well enough how prone the people are to evil”. The notion of accepting responsibility, repenting and asking for forgiveness doesn’t seem to enter their minds. I may laugh at the Israelites, but I also recognize how like them I am. We establish criteria for what God should be and what God should do. When he won’t jump through our hoops or doesn’t adhere to our time table we create our own gods. Money, power, image, appearance, science, a car, prestige, a house, whatever. It’s easy to lose our focus on God or simply replace him with something new; shiny, new gods that leave us empty and dissatisfied. Thankfully we worship a loving, forgiving God who truly wants a relationship with us and welcomes us back.
And then there is Martha. The woman who recognized Jesus as the Christ is too focused on making sandwiches to listen to what Jesus has to say. Again, I may chuckle at Martha, but I am Martha.
I am a routine kind of guy. I get up at 5:51AM, make coffee, feed the cats, let the dog out, get ready for work, maybe have some breakfast and, if there is time, read scripture. We used to have two dogs. Our old dog had a bad leg and arthritic hips, so I built a ramp so she didn’t have to use the stairs to get back in the house. As it was, she didn’t like the ramp, so I carried her up the stairs to the back deck until she died. Our new little dog loves the ramp. He could run up and down it all day. However, when the old dog died, there was no reason for a ramp, so I took the ramp down. The first morning afterwards I let Arby out, but when I called him back in, he went to where the ramp used to be and stared at me. I told him to come up the stairs. He stared at me like I was telling him to fly. I wound up losing my patience and chasing him around the back yard shouting at him. I’m sure it made a good show for the neighbors. Since then I have come to realize how like my dog I am. I get into my routine of busywork and I forget to stop and set aside time for God. I am Martha. I seem to be on some crazy work and spend cycle that paralyzes my relationship with God. I hurry through the moment God has created for me without a single thought of gratefulness to God. I need to listen to Christ’s words to Martha. Slow down. Don’t be anxious. Sit with me a while. You won’t regret it.
My prayer today is for those of us caught up in the busyness of the world. That we would stop, sit and listen for God’s voice.
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