I am simultaneously Master of the universe—which I created and I control—and the Savior who lives inside you. My majestic greatness and My gentle humility combine to give you everything you need. You are rich beyond your wildest imagination!
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.
Timothy J. Keller
As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen.
Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”
Luke 10:38-42 (MSG)
A man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. This was the same Mary who massaged the Lord’s feet with aromatic oils and then wiped them with her hair. It was her brother Lazarus who was sick. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Master, the one you love so very much is sick.” When Jesus got the message, he said, “This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son.”
Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, but oddly, when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed on where he was for two more days. After the two days, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” They said, “Rabbi, you can’t do that. The Jews are out to kill you, and you’re going back?” Jesus replied, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in daylight doesn’t stumble because there’s plenty of light from the sun. Walking at night, he might very well stumble because he can’t see where he’s going.” He said these things, and then announced, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. I’m going to wake him up.” The disciples said, “Master, if he’s gone to sleep, he’ll get a good rest and wake up feeling fine.” Jesus was talking about death, while his disciples thought he was talking about taking a nap. Then Jesus became explicit: “Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him.” That’s when Thomas, the one called the Twin, said to his companions, “Come along. We might as well die with him.”
When Jesus finally got there, he found Lazarus already four days dead. Bethany was near Jerusalem, only a couple of miles away, and many of the Jews were visiting Martha and Mary, sympathizing with them over their brother. Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet him. Mary remained in the house. Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.” Jesus said, “Your brother will be raised up.” Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.” Jesus answered, “You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Master. All along I have believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God who comes into the world.” After saying this, she went to her sister Mary and whispered in her ear, “The Teacher is here and is asking for you.” The moment she heard that, she jumped up and ran out to him. Jesus had not yet entered the town but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When her sympathizing Jewish friends saw Mary run off, they followed her, thinking she was on her way to the tomb to weep there. Mary came to where Jesus was waiting and fell at his feet, saying, “Master, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her sobbing and the Jews with her sobbing, a deep anger welled up within him. He said, “Where did you put him?” Now Jesus wept. The Jews said, “Look how deeply he loved him.” Others among them said, “Well, if he loved him so much, why didn’t he do something to keep him from dying? After all, he opened the eyes of a blind man.” Then Jesus, the anger again welling up within him, arrived at the tomb. It was a simple cave in the hillside with a slab of stone laid against it. Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” The sister of the dead man, Martha, said, “Master, by this time there’s a stench. He’s been dead four days!” Jesus looked her in the eye. “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” Then, to the others, “Go ahead, take away the stone.” I know you always do listen, but on account of this crowd standing here I’ve spoken so that they might believe that you sent me.” Then he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And he came out, a cadaver, wrapped from head to toe, and with a kerchief over his face. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him loose.”
Six days before Passover, Jesus entered Bethany where Lazarus, so recently raised from the dead, was living. Lazarus and his sisters invited Jesus to dinner at their home. Martha served. Lazarus was one of those sitting at the table with them. Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus’ feet, and then wiped them with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house.
Have you ever taken a personality test? They are kind of fun and definitely interesting. Most of us have a deep need to truly understand ourselves, but isn’t that odd when you think about it? I mean, we inhabit our bodies and experience our own emotions and thoughts, but we don’t truly understand ourselves. We are a mystery to ourselves! Sometimes my thoughts and emotions surprise me! I think to myself, “Where did that come from?”
I spent a lot of time and energy trying to find the true me. I ran around the world grasping at straws and looking for something to rest my identity upon. Then God brought me to a place of peace and acceptance. I finally realized that it didn’t make any difference whether I knew myself or not. God knows me and that’s all that counts. He created me exactly as He wanted me to be, and He loves me just the way I am. This is all His great mystery, but at the same time, He is the anchor for my soul. Mind-blowing. In Psalm 139 (MSG) the Psalmist writes:
I’m an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say
before I start the first sentence.
So as I read the story of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus I can’t help but think about the fact that Jesus knew Martha so very well, that when she was upset that Mary wasn’t helping enough, Jesus could challenge her lovingly not to fuss and worry. It couldn’t have been easy for Martha to hear the Master praise Mary while at the same time gently chastising her for the choices she was making.
Wouldn’t you agree that most of us are Marthas? Do you, like me, struggle with busyness? Well, of course you do, because we women have a lot of balls to keep in the air! We are juggling like crazy because we want things to be “right”—right at the job, right at home, and right at church. We are selfless and servant-hearted. Aren’t we? Sometimes I wonder why I feel good when I’m productive and, well, not so great when I’m not.
Truth: busyness can become a kind of addictive drug. Do you hear me? I struggle to find the right balance between service and rest. I have to admit that I am not a good rester. I get restless when I rest. I start looking around for something I’ve left undone. My mind casts around for something to occupy my time. It’s pitiful, really, because I am physically tired, but my mind is buzzing.
If I’m still and quiet, then God may speak to me. “Cindy, you’re fussing too much and getting worked up over nothing.”
To God I am an open book. I’m fully known and I’m fully loved.
He wants me to rest in His love and care for me. He wants to spend time with me. He created me to be His friend. And when I take the time to rest in Him I’m at peace.
Sisters, let’s face it. There’s a tension between who we want to be and who we are. God knows that and He’s working on us. It’s all okay. Over the years I’ve developed these touchstones or checkpoints for myself straight from God’s Word:
1 – Am I obeying God’s most important commandment which is to love God and love others as I love myself?
Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”
2 – Am I praying for people that I find difficult to love?
I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.
3 – Am I opening myself to God so He can work on my heart issues?
Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7
4 – Am I allowing God to work on my character by spending daily time alone with Him and His word?
Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another – showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
How about you? Are you in need of course corrections on a daily basis? The only one who can be trusted to do that relentless work is God himself. He will never give up on you! Seriously, that private world needs to be in order or our resources to be our best public selves run dry. Do we desire to honor God by putting our best foot forward on the daily walk with Jesus? Walking in the ways of Jesus is not for quitters. It is not easy!
Listen: I’m controlling, blatantly honest, and tenacious when I probably shouldn’t be. I know I rub some people the wrong way! And I know some really prickly people that I have to deal with quite regularly…some of them live in my own house! But I have an unquenchable desire to please my Lord and Savior and love, forgive, and pray for others as He instructs because I’m so grateful for what He did for me on the cross. To be sure, just as Jesus put Martha back on the right track, the Holy Spirit regularly reaches in and twists my heart back into place. What, you too?
So perhaps I’ll never be a good rester or learn to keep my mouth shut when I should, but that’s okay. God allows me to rest in Him and He’s working on my mouth too. He’s got plenty of work to do with me. When I misstep I ask for forgiveness with the confidence that He will forgive me every single time! That’s what grace has done for me. What has His grace done for you? So in gratitude, I’m giving Him my heart and my time…as much time as it takes. The day I stop is the day when He takes me home to live with and worship Him forever. I can’t wait to see Him face to face. I long to Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Jesus, I’m badly in need of your gentle hand of guidance and correction. You are my friend and I trust you wholly. I know you will never leave me or forsake me. I know that you love me unconditionally and that you have great plans to prosper me and not to harm me. At my darkest moments, when I’m frustrated, discouraged or anxious, your love heals my heart and comforts me. My song will ever be: “Lord, I need You, oh, I need You! Every hour I need You! My one defense, my righteousness! Oh God, how I need You.” Amen
Take a listen: Known
Today’s post was written by Cindy Koopmans.
Cindy is married to her college sweetheart, Brian, for 39 years. She has three grown boys, two sweet daughters-in-law and a gorgeous little grand-man named Oliver Brian. Cindy teaches fifth grade at Sorrento Elementary and serves at the Mount Dora campus as their Worship Coordinator. Cindy’s passion is music, so her happy place is on the keyboard. She also enjoys reading (so many books, so little time), thrifting, and hanging out with Kramer the wonder Bichon. You can find her on Sunday mornings worshiping at our Real Life Mount Dora campus.