Sunday, April 15, 2007

On Books & Being a Martha

There used to be a time that I'd pick up a book and no matter how long it was (for the most part), I'd be done reading it in 2 days or less. I learned how to power-read when I was about 12. Mom would buy a paperback suspense/mystery Saturday morning at the grocery store and announce "I'm taking that with me to work Monday morning - if you want to read it, you better start now". If I had a dollar for every weekend I lounged around the house reading... well, I'd have a lot of dollars. That continued until I was 18 and moved out on my own.

That habit just stuck with me, and the older I got I contined to read the same way, fast & furious. I often wondered if I really retained what I had read, so often I'd talk to people who'd read the same books I did just to see if they had the same impression of the book, and 9 times out of 10 others had the same opinions & insights into the same books. Somehow, power-reading works for me and I do indeed retain what I read. Once in a while though, I come across a book that I just can't do that with. Maybe it's more accurate to say I don't want to do that with all books. The deeper the doctrine, the richer or more timeless the message, and I find myself not wanting to miss anything, or overlook an opportunity to really meditate on the words and see how or if somethng I've read applies in my own life.

Since I started homeschooling 7 years ago, my reading habits have drastically changed, however. The book budget that we used to spend on books for ourselves for furthering our Christian education, or for purely entertainment purposes, was replaced by text books, workbooks and school supplies. It's only every once in a while that either Kev or I have the opportunity to buy ourselves a book, and when we do that now we try to be even more careful & discerning with what we do buy, so that it can be a permanent part of our own library, for the kids to read when they're older, or the church library, for someone else to read and enjoy as well. Even the way I read now is different, since my daytime hours are taken up with school & household chores & errands, and my night time hours are limited and I have to decide if I'm going to work on my store, create new graphics, do some blogging or other writing, work on a household project, or find a book to read. It's a tough choice and I only have a few hours in the evening to cram all that in!

Twelve Extraordinary WomenMore or less, I said all that to sort of explain why a book I received for my birthday in December, is still on my "currently reading" list. I only have one chapter to go but by all rights I should have been done reading this book in January. Last night however, I decided to simply unplug and find a comfy chair to sit under the teaching of pastor John MacArthur in Twelve Extraordinary Women. With my coffee and prerequisite cheetos (no, I did not get any powdered cheese product on the pages, I'm a very skilled snacker/reader), I spent the night looking a little closer at Mary the mother of Jesus, Anna the aged prophetess that lived in the temple, the Samaritan woman at the well, sisters Martha and Mary, and Mary Magdalene. I'm so glad I did that last night, they were the best company I could think of, to visit with.

What struck me in reading last night is the same thing that always strikes me as frustrating when I read about Martha. It's hard for me to put into words (although John MacArthur didn't have a problem with it, I sure do!), but I see Scripture painting her as a genuine servant, and at the same time someone with a bit of a control issue. I guess it's hard for me to say that because I've always admired Martha and feel odd saying anything like that about her. It's obvious though in the way she tries to scold Mary for not helping her when she thought she should be, even though Mary was busy worshipping Jesus.

Can you picture in your mind, you and your brother or sister having Jesus in your home, and you're listening to Him and worshipping Him while the other gets flustered because you're not helping with the potato salad, and actually tries to get Jesus to tell you to get up and come to the kitchen and help? I know that sounds crazy, but that's exactly what Martha did. I always cringe when I read that passage, because I see myself in Martha, in that aspect. That character trait that pops out and says "it has to be done this way, and at this time, and in this order". It's a domineering pride issue to get all caught up in the method of service and I know it, and I don't like that it's a part of me.

I do like the way pastor John handled that though, and even admitted that he himself identifies with Martha in this way. I think it would be safe to say we all understand at least a part of that kind of control-freakish sort of attitude.

In any case, I have been and continue to be thoroughly blessed by this book. I'm still sick (worse actually, now it's sinus pain), so I'm at home this morning while everyone is off at church. I hate missing church, and especially don't want to miss Pastor Ken's next address in the Hall of Faith. I hope Ken remembers to grab a tape for me.

I'll be visiting with Lydia today, and then I'm done with this book. I cannot give a higher recommendation than to simply say, ladies, if you haven't read it yet, you NEED to read this book. It will simply bless your heart and challenge you to aim a little higher toward the goal of being a godly woman.