The Power of a Mary Heart in a Martha World

The Power of a Mary Heart in a Martha World

Once when surf kayaking at the beach with my husband, my boat turned parallel with the shoreline as I sped towards the sand on the crest of a wave. Not a desirable situation! Even though it was a very small wave, due to being in shallow water and not having as much control, the force of the wave immediately tumbled my boat and pinned me underneath.  Water rushed over me with a strength I could not have imagined. Never had I possessed such an awareness of the power of the ocean as I received in that moment when I knew my only option was to hold my breath and wait out the wave.

When I think of power, it’s images like that one that fill my imagination.

Thundering oceans, brilliant lightning, rushing hurricane wind. These easily recognizable examples of raw power are full of movement and noise, and if you’ve ever been at the mercy of one, you know firsthand that their force is beyond anything man can conjure or contain.

This week, God reminded me of another kind of power.

The power of stillness.

To the casual observer, it looks a lot like – well, nothing. Like total unproductivity.

The Power of a Mary Heart in a Martha WorldBut the reality is much different.

Can I be honest with you? I’ve never liked the Bible story of Mary and Martha too well. I so want to be Mary, but more often, I find myself playing the role of the chastised Martha.

Now, Martha gets a bad rap, but she started out well. Luke 11:38 tells us that she opened her home to Jesus. What a wonderful thing to be remembered for! I love that about her – she saw Jesus, valued Him, and welcomed Him into her home.

So far, so good. A great start to a wonderful friendship, yes?

But somewhere between verse 38 and verse 39, something happens to Martha.

She doesn’t start using drugs, or murder her sister, or change her mind and decide to throw in her lot with the Pharisees.

The Bible says she was “distracted”.

She was so busy trying to serve Jesus, that she missed the power of simply being with Jesus. Click To Tweet


Mary, on the other hand, was doing only two things. Mary was sitting, and Mary was listening.

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10, NIV)

If Jesus came to my house, I honestly don’t know what I would do. Would I rush around fluffing pillows, straightening the living room, telling the kids to change clothes and for Heaven’s sake to brush their hair, and then go try to figure out what in the WORLD to make for dinner?? Maybe I would.

Maybe I would think “as soon as I have these things taken care of, I will sit down and enjoy being with Jesus”.

Maybe that’s what Martha herself was thinking. After all, people have to eat, don’t they?

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it’.” (Isaiah 30:15, NIV)


Mary’s choice was the pathway to power that fuels effective Kingdom living.  There is strength in stillness.  There is learning in listening. And there is such beauty in simply being with the One who wants to be with us more than we can imagine.

Mary’s choice was the opposite of running around in our own strength and asking God to bless what we do, and wondering why The Power of a Mary Heart in a Martha World flowerswe don’t feel His presence like we used to.

The two choices lie before us, as relevant today as they were the day Martha bustled about her home.

We can allow ourselves to be distracted by all the things that clamor for our attention, or we can choose to quiet ourselves, sit, and listen. Even when what is distracting us FROM Jesus are the things we feel we are doing FOR Jesus.


We need His presence more than He needs our efforts. Click To Tweet


When we choose to sit and listen, powerful things happen inside us.  Our hearts are recalibrated to His and we receive correction and direction.  As we absorb His peace and presence, we receive and infusion of grace for our day.

Oh, how I need His power for effective living. I am completely insufficient in and of myself.

I want to have the power of a Mary heart in a Martha world because I need His life in me doing what I cannot accomplish on my own. I cannot love like Jesus without being with Jesus.

“Lord, forgive me for many times becoming so distracted by chores or life or even serving You that I forget to just sit in Your presence, where there is fullness of joy. I need Your presence today, and I will need it again tomorrow, and every day after that. Help me discipline myself to shut out the many faces of distraction and to focus instead on the beautiful face of Jesus. Teach me to sit and listen. Open my eyes to see when I am running around in my own strength, and give me the grace to run back to You instead.”

What about you? What part of the story of Mary and Martha can you best relate to? Maybe your answer has changed over time and you find yourself in a different season now. I’d love to hear your thoughts and how God has used the story of these sisters in your life!

With faith, hope, and love,

Published byChristine

Christine is so glad you have joined her on The Beautiful Journey! She is a Bible study writer and teacher living in Texas with her husband, 2 children, and all their pets. Christine believes with all her heart that you can live the full, high-impact, joyful life God designed for you, right now. That beautiful journey begins inside you and doesn't depend on your circumstances. She would love to have you join her on the journey!


  • Brenda Wyatt

    April 27, 2017 at 7:48 am Reply

    Ok Chrissy, once again through your blog, you have opened my eyes. I try to get everything done and then I sit down with Jesus. Unfortunately that does not always work out like I plan. I find myself at times really tired and sleepy and instead of going to my prayer closet, I crawl in bed. Yes I have good intentions of laying in bed and spending time with My Lord, and quickly find myself fast asleep. Thank you ! My prayer is that I will begin to put God first.

    • Christine

      April 27, 2017 at 10:45 am Reply

      I too have tried the “I’ll just pray right here in bed!” plan, and find myself waking up much later. 🙂 So thankful that our focus is relationship and not rules, but I miss out on those days for sure. Oh, that our hearts would be so captivated by His that our desire for His presence compels us to put Him first!

  • Lanette

    April 25, 2017 at 5:21 pm Reply

    Hi Christine…I find myself going back and forth between the two. I’ve had my plate so full that all I can do is cry because I’m so overwhelmed. So I begin the elimination game and start removing things from my life that I can remove and balance my life out (at least I think it’s pretty balanced!). I’ll live like this for a while and then I find myself unfulfilled and I start volunteering to do take on more things in the name of being busy because I am trying to fill an emptiness that only God can fill and my plate becomes full again. And the cycle continues. And I totally didn’t realize this until right now as I write from my heart. Wow! God continues to reveal things to me about myself through your blog. I can’t tell you what a blessing you are to my life Christine. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. Love you!

    • Christine

      April 25, 2017 at 5:28 pm Reply

      Lanette, I know you are not alone in that struggle! So many of us don’t even recognize that we are being driven by the need for man’s approval. Recognizing it is the first step to freedom! Praying the Holy Spirit continues and deepens the work He’s doing in our hearts, and fills us so full of Himself that we are completely satisfied in Him alone. Love you! Christine

  • Lori Newfield Miller

    April 22, 2017 at 1:51 pm Reply

    Thank you Christine. This puts things into perspective when outside forces become overwhelming. Putting myself in a time-out with God and basking in His Glory, is just what puts the mind back on track.


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