(Genesis 18:1-10a, Psalm 15, Colossians 1:15-28)
(watch here: https://youtu.be/_zJ5EgR9Nf8)
38Now as [Jesus and his disciples] went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Have you ever noticed how life simply has a way of getting away from you sometimes? No matter how focused you, no matter how structured you are, no matter how disciplined you are…life has this nasty habit of getting away from you. And as if life getting away from you wasn’t frustrating enough, you aren’t even given the chance to prepare for when life decides to get away from you. Whenever life wants to turn your world upside down, then life will do it—unannounced, unexpectedly, and unfortunately. We don’t know when life will get away from us. We don’t know how life will get away from us. And we certainly don’t know why life will get away from us. Only God fully understands why life can get away from us at times. Only God fully understands when and how life can get away from us. After all, it was God who created our lives and ALL of life. And God created life in a way that it isn’t supposed to be fully contained and controlled by any one person. No, life is supposed to get away from us from time to time! We are fools to believe that we have absolute control over our lives at all times. We are fools to believe that we are the sole masters of our destinies. No, we have been gifted with these lives to manage and develop over time in a way that brings glory to the true master of these lives, the true owner of these lives. God created our lives…they are His and His alone. We are mere stewards of what He has created. Perhaps it is when our lives get away from us that God is reminding us of who the true master is over them. Perhaps it is God’s way of teaching us just how uncontrollable life is and was created to be. We have been entrusted with these lives for but a short time in this world. God entrusts us with these lives to do with them however we please. We can choose to ruin our lives or we can choose to manage them in a way that brings glory to our God. Whichever way we choose, our lives ultimately belong to God. Just because we manage them doesn’t make us owners of them. Life is much bigger than we could own. It’s no wonder life gets away from us sometimes! Life is huge and complex and mysterious and confusing! There’s no way we can fully control and master our own lives let alone the lives of others! Only God can understand the full mystery and complexity of life. Only God can fully control and master life. Believe it or not, life never has a way of getting away from God!
Though life getting away from us can serve to broaden our understanding of the complexity of life, it also serves to allow God to break into our lives from time to time. When life gets away from us, who do you think picks them up? Sure, if we’re blessed with loyal and loving spouses or families or friends, they can help pick up our lives for a time. But after a while even they can’t pick up the lives that get away from us. They have lives of their own to worry about. They can’t forever neglect their own lives to help us with our wayward lives. No, their help is limited and only God can ever fully help us with our wayward lives. Only God can control the forces in our lives that overwhelm us. Only God can align our lives and bring them back into our diligent care. God loves to take up our wayward lives, whip them back into shape, and gently, lovingly hand them back to us. God’s grace is sure and steadfast. God views our wayward lives as mere opportunities to share His grace.
It is helpful for us to reflect on these times when we feel life getting away from us as we approach this morning’s texts. God has a rich history of breaking into people’s wayward lives. In our passage from Genesis, we heard the encounter that Abraham once had with God in the form of three men. Abraham neither expected nor planned a visit from the three men on that hot day. But the men came and Abraham had sense enough to treat them with complete hospitality. He gave them water and bread and the shade of a tree to rest under. He prepared a meal of meat and curds and milk to share with them. Abraham didn’t know the three men came from God. He could have easily dismissed their needs and went about his day undisturbed. But as a righteous and faithful servant of God, Abraham was compelled to serve the men and was richly rewarded for his efforts. They blessed him with a much-prayed for son. God found a way to break into Abraham’s wayward life and bless it with new and unexpected life.
In our passage from Luke, we heard the encounter that Mary and Martha once had with Jesus. While Mary was dutifully sitting with Jesus, Martha was running around the house doing a number of household tasks. When she complained that her sister wasn’t helping with the tasks, Jesus scolded her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.” Jesus didn’t directly say what the one thing was but the implication was that sitting and listening to Jesus was the important thing for Martha to be doing. No doubt the scolding caught Martha off guard and caused her to quickly re-prioritize her efforts. Again God found a way to break into a wayward life, whip it back into shape, and gently hand it back to its manager. God sees a wayward life as an opportunity for realignment and teaching.
Think back to those times when you’ve felt your life getting away from you. How did it come back under your care? Did you allow God to enter into it? How did God enter your wayward life? God walks with each us whether we’re aware of Him or not. God speaks to each of us as He walks. God speaks to us the loudest in the times in our lives when life seems to get away from us. We’re doing our own thing, expecting only so much out of life, and God somehow speaks words of unimaginable life and hope. Sometimes we get caught up in our daily worries, so much so that we’re unable to hear God speaking words of hope and encouragement. In either case, God speaks to us. We just need to slow down our lives a little bit, cut out a lot of the unnecessary noise in our lives, and simply listen to what God has to say. Invariably they are words of hope and love and reassurance. God wants us to be good caretakers of the lives He has entrusted to us. God wants us to live righteous and holy lives like Abraham and Mary. God wants us to prioritize a relationship with Him. As we reflect on the times when life seems to get away from us, let us cling to the witness of people like Abraham and Mary. God continuously calls out words of hope and love. Let us be mindful to…listen, God is calling.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.