Can a Type-A person learn to wait on God? You are familiar with Mary and Martha, right? Mary was content to sit at the feet of Jesus, listening to His teaching and soaking up everything He had to say while Martha, our typical Type-A, was busy in the kitchen, preparing a feast fit for a king and fretting about not having enough help with it all. Oh, Mary had helped some, and perhaps the meal was nearly ready when she excused herself to the living room to sit with Jesus. She couldn’t help it if Martha decided at the last minute that they needed an extra vegetable, or that the dinner napkins were the wrong color and must be changed out. Those details did not matter to Mary. She wanted to spend time with Jesus. In the kitchen, she would just be in the way of her perfectionist sister, so she got out of the way.
But what about Martha? Don’t you think she also wanted to spend time with Jesus? Did she enjoy being “stuck” in the kitchen? Oh, to be sure, she loved cooking and entertaining. It was her forte. In fact, she was well known in town for her exquisite suppers. It’s not that she didn’t want to prepare the meal or set a fine table, but if only she could be in both rooms at once. The truth is, she had the perfect Guest in her home, and therefore she wanted her meal to be perfect—the setting just right, the food all delicious and hot and ready at the same time, the guests all comfortable, and the conversation all delightful. But she worked herself into a frazzle trying to make it happen. And by the time the evening was done, she realized she had hardly even cast a glance in Jesus’ direction. She had been so busy doing things for Him that she had spent very little time with Him. There had to be a balance, but how?
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King David was a lot like Martha. He too was a Type-A, a doer. In fact, King Saul was extremely jealous of him because the people had a saying, “Saul has slain his thousands, but David his ten thousands.” Yes, David was very accomplished, very talented, but he longed to learn to sit still and wait on God. Four times in Psalm 70 David asks God to hurry, and it’s a short psalm! Other times David does try to wait on God. I noticed this particularly in Psalm 69. “I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried; my eyes fail while I wait for my God” (v.3). He is waiting, but not very patiently. Others around him are more like Mary and have learned to wait patiently. David asks that he will not be an embarrassment to them. “O God, You know my foolishness, and my sins are not hidden from You. Let not them that wait on You, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek You be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel” (vv.5-6). As he progresses through his thoughts, he shows us that God has taught him a measure of patience. “But as for me, my prayer is unto You, O Lord, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of Your mercy hear me, in the truth of Your salvation. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving” (vv.13,30).
Psalm 25 is also a psalm of David, and it is written from a position of rest. So to answer the question I posed at the beginning, YES, a Type-A person can learn to wait on God. David did. Read these first several verses of Psalm 25 and see for yourself.
Unto Thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.
O my God, I trust in Thee: let me not be ashamed,
let not my enemies triumph over me.
Yea, let none that wait on Thee be ashamed:
let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.
Show me Thy ways, O LORD; teach me Thy paths.
Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me:
for Thou art the God of my salvation;
on Thee do I wait all the day.
Remember, O LORD, Thy tender mercies and Thy loving-kindnesses;
for they have been ever of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions:
according to Thy mercy
remember Thou me for Thy goodness’ sake, O LORD.
Good and upright is the LORD:
therefore will He teach sinners in the way.
The meek will He guide in judgment:
and the meek will He teach His way.
All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth
unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.
For Thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my iniquity; for it is great.
What man is he that fears the LORD?
Him shall He teach in the way that He shall choose.
His soul shall dwell at ease, and his seed shall inherit the earth.
The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him,
and He will show them His covenant.
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Let’s return now to our beloved Martha. Many things have happened in her life since that dinner when we first were introduced to her, but perhaps the most traumatic was when her beloved brother Lazarus took sick. Martha knew that Jesus had the power to heal Lazarus. She also knew that Jesus loved Lazarus (and Mary and herself). What she didn’t understand is why He didn’t come in time. Jesus’ heart broke to see her grief, but He met her right where she was, and He taught her a very important lesson.
Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now, whatever You will ask of God, God will give it to You.” Jesus said unto her, “Your brother shall rise again.” Martha said unto Him, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said unto her, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said unto him, “Yes, Lord: I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world” (John 11:20-27).
This time when Jesus came into town, Martha had plenty of time to see Him, with no excuses, and Mary gave her space because she saw that her sister needed time alone with the Lord. Martha knew that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. She knew He had the power to heal the sick, and she knew that He would resurrect the dead at the last day, but she had not yet put two and two together to believe that He could resurrect her brother right then and there. It was too good to be true. Jesus tenderly and lovingly brought her to the place of understanding, then to prove His deity as much as to demonstrate His love, turned His attention to the tomb and cried out, “Lazarus, come forth!” The brother’s body received his life again, and immediately he was released and restored to his overjoyed sisters in the presence of many witnesses.
The third and final time we see this family together with Jesus is at another dinner. Again Martha is serving, but this time there is no complaining, but only joy, for this time Martha serves from a position of rest. The “perfect” hostess has been perfected. What made the difference? Martha has spent time with Jesus. We don’t know all the time they may have spent together, but we do know of at least that one private conversation they had just moments before He raised Lazarus from the dead, where Jesus greatly increased Martha’s faith. Many believed on Him that day, and Martha learned to rest. Wouldn’t you? Imagine being there, when the realization floods over your soul that the Lord of glory was not late after all, He was right on time! He had a plan—a perfectly marvelous plan to show His glory in a wonderful way. I’m sure Martha learned that day that she could trust Him implicitly for any situation, for any problem, and there was absolutely nothing too difficult for God.
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1 Peter 5:10 But the God of all grace, who has called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.
James 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
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You can read more about Martha here: Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-45; 12:1-11.
Next week: Rebekah
“Busy Bee” photo taken in Brevard, North Carolina, 2017