Friday, June 1, 2007

Rest and Simplicity

Drummer audition joke: The band leader asks the drummer, "Can you play a samba pattern with your bass drum?" The drummer obliges with a boom...b-boom samba pattern.

The leader then asks, "can you add a Mozambique cowbell pattern along with that with your right hand?" The drummer thinks, "No problem," and obliges with his best effort.

He is then told, "Now add a 2-3 clave with your left foot on the hi-hat.” He struggles a bit but gets it happening.

Next he hears, "Now add a cascara pattern on the snare with your left hand." Years of studying polyrhythms, practicing independence, and listening to world music finally come to fruition and the relieved drummer finds he can easily play the whole pattern.

Pleased with himself, he asks the band leader, "So, do I get the job?”

"No," says the bandleader "that's why we fired the last guy!"


This is a reminder to me to not let my mind be “led astray from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor 11:3)! Remember when Martha was busy running all around in an effort to serve her houseguest (Jesus), all the while complaining that her sister Mary wasn’t helping her? And what was so important that Mary couldn’t come help her sister? Can you believe this – Mary had the gall to be sitting “at the Lord's feet listening to what He said" (Luke 10:39). Come on, Mary! Martha's busy over there banging out all these wonderful drum patterns for Jesus, and all you’re doing is sitting there listening to Him! Get with it!

Jesus, of course, saw it differently. Martha was actually the one who needed to get with the program. Her problem is perhaps similar to the one the Ephesians had years later, when they had patiently persevered and labored much – all for Jesus’ sake – and yet they had left their first love, Jesus. Luke describes Martha’s problem by saying that she was "distracted with much serving" (Luke 10:40). Martha was busy serving Jesus, but Mary was the one who was actually doing what Jesus wanted her to do! Jesus tells Martha, “Only one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

This story doesn't sit well with the busy, performance-oriented Christian - and I readily admit how that statement is an indictment on much of my own life. I sure can preach “sitting at the feet of Jesus,” but do I always walk the walk? (Or would that be “sit the sit?”). Describing His own service, Jesus said, "the words that I speak to you, I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in Me does the works" (John 14:10). His service came not from a focus on performing for His Father, but from knowing His Father. There's a huge difference! In the same way, how many of us busy “Marthas” would do well to stop and consider if we're letting our service for Him get in the way of knowing Him? Countless times I’ve been in the homes of friends who were so busy serving their guests that they essentially spent the entire evening ignoring their guests! I don’t knock on my friends’ doors, and ask if I can come in, so that I can have them serve me. I want to come in so I can spend time with them. I want to know them, and them to know me. I’m convinced that God’s purpose in creating mankind was not to create a bunch of weary, worn out servants, but rather that we may “know Him, or rather be known by Him” (Gal 4:9).

Are we focused on knowing the Person, Jesus, or are we focused on our performance for Him? Are we focused on keeping our various agendas and systems in place (for His sake, of course), or are we at the feet of Jesus, listening to what He has to say? To stop, and wait, in this fast-paced world is a challenge, I know. But what if we end up actually hearing what He says – and what if we find that it’s not what the Marthas in our lives expect of us?

Can you imagine truly serving God with constantly renewed strength? Can you envision yourself soaring through the sky like an eagle? Can you imagine running and not getting tired??? Walking and not becoming weary? Can you grasp the idea of serving the Lord in a constant state of rest? This is the life of "those who wait on the Lord" (Isaiah 40:31).


  1. Beautifully put, Joel. I love this!! It's exactly what I need at this point in my life. It's difficult not to be moved by the "Martha's" who come along but I am greatly encouraged by reading this.

    Thanks so much,

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  3. We've discussed the pros and cons of the Message,but in application to your article I think this flows right along with it don't you?

    "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on Religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me- watch how I do it. Learn the *unforced rhythms of grace*. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 28-30

    Also in context go back and look how Jesus used the hardness of heart of the unbelieving cities by speaking very harshly to them. In Martha's case though he understood she had an understanding of Him, but like us, she was reverting back to her harsh understanding, but in her case he tried to help her see her harshness by speaking gently to her.

    Not long ago I heard Chuck Swindoll say that early in his ministry he though he was laying down a gauntlet like he did in warning those cities by saying "MARTHA!!!!! MARTHA!!!!!"

    But now he realized it was more like (loving sigh, emphasis mine)"Martha....Martha...."

  4. Yep I like how the Message words that passage and I think it fits well here. For a while, I quoted this passage in my email signature.

    Indeed I think Jesus' words to Martha were gentle and loving, and were intended to help her see Him not as a harsh master but as a Friend and as someone she could rest in.

  5. Jake,
    Hello! I found your Blog page off of Aida Carter's (Forgetting the Former Things) Blog. I've recently become a commentor on The God Journey Forum ( and I also enjoy reading wonderful thoughts and comments from my brothers and sisters at the Free Believers( forum, too.

    I enjoyed this posting. Ah...simplicity. Something of which Father is working with me to strengthen. As to live in simplicity brings such peace. Society is so good, unfortunately, as well as we humans in making things more complext than they are...oftentimes the result of getting too "into our heads" rather than listening to our hearts (Spirit).

    In any case, I look forward to reading more of your posts here on your page.

    ~Amy :)

  6. wow...exactly the reminder that I need now. thank you po, Jesus. I will surely grow in Your grace, because it is your will for my life. amen. :)