The workday was ending for me on this particular Wednesday, which meant I was ready to make the drive home to Boyertown, about a two-hour commute. Since being appointed as the Women’s Director of the PennDel Ministry Network, I try to make the commute to our network office once a week for staff and the directors’ meeting. Often, I use this time to pray, dream and to listen to podcasts I enjoy. On this Wednesday, the weather was good, my favorite podcast was playing, traffic seemed light compared to some days, and I had just sent a text to my husband, Steve that I was on my way. Settling in for the drive, I relaxed and enjoyed the scenery. Everything appeared to be fine, however, I couldn’t see what was ahead. As I drove that day on Rt. 81, I noticed that traffic began to slowly back up for no apparent reason. Then it began… the small pitter-patter of rain, hardly noticeable at first, and easy to ignore because the sun was shining bright. However, the landscape was about to change drastically.
As I slowly drove, what had begun as a few spattering’s of light rain, became a deluge of water! Wind shook the car as buckets of rain poured out of the sky. My body began to tense, my hands knuckle-gripped the steering wheel, as I desperately tried to see, and keep my car on the road. I hate sudden storms!! Should I pull over and wait it out, or keep driving slowly? That day, I kept driving. Why? Because I called my husband and he let me know the sun was shining at home. I knew that if I kept going in the direction of home, eventually I would drive out of the storm, and I did. Carefully driving, I began to see clearing in the clouds in front of me and before I knew it, the sun was shining again. The storm was coming to an end. It’s not always that easy though in our lives.
Seemingly out of nowhere, a storm arrives. Your life seems perfect one moment, and the next moment, you are holding on for dear life. Your perspective is only what you see in front of you, and it is blinding you with fear. The future seems bleak and you are not able to see the end in sight.
Mary and Martha experienced this type of storm when their brother Lazarus, who they fiercely loved, died because Jesus didn’t arrive in time to heal him. Jesus had visited their home and spent time with this family. They knew of the miracles he performed. They both had a unique relationship with Jesus, though different. We all remember Martha as the “doer” don’t we? She was the one who grumbled to Jesus about doing all the serving, while her sister Mary did all the visiting.
“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38 -42 (NLT)
We don’t know what happened next. Did Martha take a break and come and sit with Jesus? I hope so. Sometimes, if you are a “doer” like me, we just need a little push to remember what is really important at the moment. Whatever she did, we know this, BOTH of the women had a relationship with Jesus. Out of that relationship, birthed the reason that they knew Jesus could make a difference in the storm they were now facing.
The girls sent word for Jesus to come, but Jesus waited. Lazarus was now dead, and Jesus had apparently missed the moment to heal their brother. Mary and Martha were distraught to say the least. However, when Martha learned that Jesus was on his way, about two miles from her house, she ran out ahead to meet him, while Mary stayed home.
“When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house.” John 11:17-20 (NLT)
Martha was the one who ran out to meet Jesus. I love this about Martha! Both women had a relationship with Jesus, but their expression was different. At this moment, we find Mary overtaken with sadness, staying in the house, while Martha marched herself out to meet Jesus, about two miles from their home. They both knew what Jesus was capable of doing, because they had already heard of his miracles and spent time with him. They knew Him.
Everyone faces storms differently.
Martha had some real boldness when it came to Jesus! She spoke her words of frustration and she acknowledged the power of God. I love that tenacity!!
Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” John 11:21-22 (NLT)
As we read this account, we have the ability to see the ending and know it all worked out. Jesus performed a great miracle when He raised Lazarus from the dead, a precursor of His resurrection. However, for Mary and Martha, they lived this moment with no idea of the end of the storm. That is how we face our storms. We seldom know how long the storm is going to last or how strong it will become. In this case it lasted four days, which was very significant in the Jewish faith. They taught that the body was not really dead until the fourth day, so there was no happy ending expected. It was over. But Jesus rules the storms.
“Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”John 11: 43
Are you in a storm right now? I can’t promise how long or short it will be or how fierce it will get. I can promise that we all will react differently and it’s ok. I don’t think Mary and Martha changed who they were too much, based on the account in John 12, where Jesus once again is visiting their home. Lazarus is now well and seated at the table with Jesus. Martha again is doing what she does best, serving everyone. Mary joins this occasion by taking costly oiled perfume to anoint Jesus’ feet, using her hair to wipe the excess oil off. Their personalities continued to shine.
When we know Jesus in a personal relationship, he promises us that He is with us during storms.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)
I don’t know what storm you are facing right now. I don’t know how you react to storms, but I do know that we are all different. If you were in the car with me that day of the storm I spoke about, maybe you would have said “pull over and wait out the storm” and maybe one of you would have pulled the car over to the side of the road, and decided to “dance in the storm and enjoy the rain,” and others like me, would proceed cautiously through the storm. I don’t know what the correct answer is, but I do know this: God is with us in the storm and He will be with us when the storm is over.