Mary, Martha, Mac and Cheese

I’ve had a strange journey recently. I say it’s strange because I knew I was going somewhere, I just thought I was going somewhere other than where I am now. It’s not a good feeling to wake up one morning and realize that you’re not who you thought you were and you’re nowhere near where you wanted to be.

For those of you who know me, you know that I have been pushing pretty hard in my life. I have two jobs, a host of other activities and a dream I’m trying to reach. So I work hard, it’s the American thing to do. In fact, up until about 3 weeks ago, I was super proud of how hard I work and have worked. I took pride in knowing that a lot of people don’t even know all the work that goes into the things I do.

But what about when you wake up and realize that you have let goals and jobs and tasks and dreams supplant the people in your life? Worse, what if these things have usurped God’s rightful place? What if I’ve let all these things take the first fruits of me that were owed to God first and to those close to me second? It didn’t happen overnight. And it certainly didn’t happen because I wanted it to happen.

In many ways I’m still absorbing this realization and beginning to understand the extent to which this coup has reached across my life. I know it started because God called me into ministry and I saw tons of fruit there. I saw lives change, I saw God glorified. And, at the beginning, I knew it wasn’t me doing it. And yet, somewhere along the way, I became much more of a Martha than a Mary.

Let’s put it this way: Jesus is sitting in my living room, just waiting for a chance to be a part of my life, and instead of sitting at His feet and sharing the deepest parts of me, I’m hiding behind the macaroni and cheese I’m cooking in the kitchen. Sure, I know macaroni and cheese is no feast fit for a King, but He knows how much I want Him to enjoy this macaroni and cheese, right?

In fact, doesn’t He appreciate that I stay up so late and get up so early so often just so that I can refine the process of making macaroni and cheese? Doesn’t He get any pleasure out of the fact that I invite others whom He loves into the kitchen and I teach them to make macaroni and cheese too? So they can get to know Him better too? I could invite Him into the kitchen with me, but it would honestly just distract me from the making of the macaroni and cheese.

How did I get here?

There was this one time when I was truly called upon to make the macaroni and cheese. I was super nervous though, because while I had often times helped make the mac and cheese, I had never led the making of it. But I had the call. Jesus wanted me to lead this time so that He and His Bride could enjoy a nice time of communion at the table.

Oh, the joy I felt when I saw His face that day. “This! is what I need to do for the rest of my life,” I thought. And to be honest, it’s possible that my role in life is indeed to lead the making of macaroni and cheese, and that is a noble calling.

But what started as a way to honor my God and to love on my Lord has become the End in itself. Not entirely, mind you. There are times when I manage to slow down enough to sit at the table and just enjoy that time with Jesus. And in those times, He appreciates the offering. Others appreciate the offering too, because they get to sit at the table too. But I, for the most part, have locked myself in the kitchen.

I thought it was the macaroni and cheese that made Him happy, when it was the attention that I gave to Him. It was the parts of me that I gave to Him. But slowly, the very thing that was intended to bring us closer together has replaced Him and the others He put in my life.

So, should I stop making macaroni and cheese? No! In fact, every healthy person needs some macaroni and cheese in their lives. And Jesus sure does love some macaroni and cheese, when it’s given to Him in His honor. But He’s not impressed with my mac and cheese. He never expected to be impressed, He invented the stuff. He loved how it brought it us together. He loved the time in the kitchen together working on it, teaching me how to make it, and then the invitation later for all the others to join in and enjoy it.

Turns out, that’s what I loved so much about mac and cheese too. It really is. But I am frail, I am weak, I am, at times, very stupid, and I am human. I ascribed the holiness and divinity found in those moments with Jesus to the lifeless vehicle that brought us together. I grabbed onto what was good and forsook what was better.

I started this blog as an apology to the people in my life who I have let down, the people that I shut out of my life. I really believe that where your time goes is a reflection of your true priorities. And as such, the message that I’ve sent to most of my friends and family in the last year is exactly this: you are not very high on my list of priorities, please do not count on me to be there for you emotionally, physically, spiritually. But in my exploration of the hurt I’ve caused by doing that, I’ve been wrecked by the realization that I’ve also done the same thing to God. I say, “God, look what I’m doing for you. Look how faithful I am to the calling You’ve given me.” And He shakes His head sadly knowing what I’m missing out on.

————-
I’m stubborn. I don’t learn things without my heart being broken. And I’m an expert in avoiding heartbreak, if there ever was one. Your heart doesn’t have to break if you never let anything into it. C. S. Lewis wrote this passage specifically for me:

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

This is not a pity party, it really is the furthest thing from it. My heart is broken and that’s the best thing for me. If I can point to hardship and see God’s hand in it, then I should be overjoyed to know I am not an illegitimate son. Stop and read the passage I linked to there. Please.

I know that ultimately, peace is at the end of this journey. In 1 Corinthians 13, it says:

“12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

I am grateful for this discipline. And I am sorry for losing sight of the important things. This won’t be an overnight recovery for me, God doesn’t work that way. But it will be the right kind of recovery, not marked by doing all the right things externally, but by a change of heart that begins in the deepest part of me as I learn to surrender, and then, hopefully, by the grace of God, you will see lasting fruit appear.

Please don’t feel like you need to reply to this. It’s enough for me in this time that I finally found the words to seek God’s forgiveness. And I know I am loved and cared for by many dear people, but I want you to know that I am sorry for not being the mix, for investing in things and not in people.

5 Responses to “Mary, Martha, Mac and Cheese”

  1. Daniel,
    I am so proud of you for having a heart that is tender to the Lord.

  2. […] Mary, Martha, Mac and Cheese « Jbasedow4's Weblog […]

  3. Christine Says:

    Daniel,
    I’m sure this was hard to realize and then write about. I love your honesty and humility and I think we all can learn from you. I love how much you love God and how you let him speak truth to you and work in you.

  4. I found this by accident, but I just wanted to tell you how much it touched my heart. I’m reading through “Passion and Purity” by Elisabeth Gilbert and one of the epigraphs was the passage from CS Lewis that you posted… Funny how God can use random things like blog posts to connect to my devotionals and to speak truth into my very guarded heart.

    Anyway, just couldn’t leave here without saying how thankful I am for finding your words.

    Blessings,
    H

    • jbasedow4 Says:

      Thank you for your comment! I am blessed to know that God takes the things He brings me through to also bless others.

      Blessings,
      Dan

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