This was posted last night to the Making It Home yahoo group, and I got the permission from the author (Katie Waggoner, a seminary student) to post this sermon that she wrote (and gave) on my blog. She beautifully captures the spirit of my previous post on praying without ceasing.
Lord, Meet Me In the Laundry Room
Iâ??m guessing that all of us have heard the story of Mary and Martha many
times and yet, I have a confession to make. I have just recently really
understood this scripture. Now, I have always known what the story is
supposed to be telling us, that we should not get so busy in our lives that
we forget to spend time with Jesus. But I always thought, well that sounds
good, Jesus, but you still are going to need to eat! I always found my self
siding with Martha, even though I knew that it was Mary I was supposed to
admire. Do I hear an â??amenâ? from some of the other homemakers out there?
For many of us running households and in our jobs outside the home, if we
donâ??t do things, they are not going to get done. It wasnâ??t like Jesus and
the disciples could all run up to McDonalds, could they? And even if they
did, it would probably be a Martha who would have to go and fetch it.
Having said that I have to share with you something my professor in my class
at seminary said, he said that â??No matter what Martha did or didnâ??t do, at
the end of the day, they would have eaten something. It really doesnâ??t have
to do with what Martha was or wasnâ??t doing, it had to do with the condition
of her heart.â? Now some of you are sitting there thinking to yourselves,
â??duhâ?. But this was a great revelation to me. It honestly never occurred to
me that Jesus and the disciples might have pulled together some bread or
some of yesterdayâ??s leftovers. It wouldnâ??t have been the same as a freshly
cooked meal, but they would not have gone hungry if Martha had sat at Jesusâ??
feet along with her sister Mary. I see this in action at my house,
especially around finals time. We may have sandwiches for supper, but we
donâ??t go hungry. So that is what I want to share with you today, some ways
that we in our busy lives can creatively take some time to sit at the feet
of Jesus on a daily basis so that we might be fed spiritually.
How many of you are like me? Donâ??t raise your hands. How many of you are
like me that when push comes to shove and life just gets busy, your devotion
time with God is often pushed aside? We donâ??t consciously say, â??You know,
time with Jesus just doesnâ??t matter. God will understand. Itâ??s not like He
needs me to spend time with Him.â?
If you really think about it, you are setting the Lord aside in order to
take care of business, in order to do what you think is really important.
Yet, what we would consider an important obligation, God considers a
Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and Martha went to the kitchen. The Greek
word here (parakathizo) doesnâ??t mean to just sit, but sit near. I think it
implies that she got as close to Jesus as she could possibly get. Sitting
at the feet of your master was the proper place for a disciple to be. Mary
made a choice – she knew there were other things that needed to be done, but
she purposefully didnâ??t do those things. Instead, she went and sat at the
feet of Jesus. Martha was â??careful and troubledâ? by that which wasnâ??t best.
She could have â??sat at His feetâ? too. However, she chose to other
things instead. She was busy with good things that needed to be done, just
not right then. I will tell you it is a lot easier to be a Martha than a
Mary. At least I find that to be true in my own life.
In my school work one of my professors told us about his trip to London and
visiting John Wesleyâ??s apartment. Wesley had a room about this big square
(hold out arms) off of his bedroom. Wesley would get up every morning at
4:00 am everyday and go into this small chamber to pray. Thatâ??s right. This
little room was his prayer closet. Early Methodists called this room â??The
powerhouse of Methodismâ?. So you and I, indeed everyone who claims the name
of Methodist owes our identity to that little man in that little room
praying for an hour every morning. Then from 5-6am everyday he would spend
in study of the scriptures, 6-7 was a worship service, and from 7-10 he and
whoever was at his home spent the time in devotional reading of the church
fathers. I know that there are people in this church who get up early every
morning to pray and study scriptures and I can tell you with great assurance
that I am not one of them. I need every second of sleep that I am currently
getting, but I still am in need with that time alone with God. So when I
heard about Wesley and his prayer closet- I took it as a place where a
believer could find the solutions to the weightiest problems, a place that
maybe if I had it, I could make my quiet time with God come true. It really
bothered me that I wasnâ??t spending an hour or so in the morning in prayer
and scripture reading and that I didnâ??t have a prayer closet to visit. I
looked around my house, since it is certainly big enough to have a little
prayer closet for me to go to and spend time with God. Unfortunately as I
looked around for some previously uncharted territory to claim as my own, I
could find nowhere with the sustained privacy necessary for even a prayer
shoebox. In a 126 year old house there are precious few closets and ours
are stuffed to the gills. To open one of our closets, does involve a lot of
praying, since there is a very real possibility of being crushed in an
avalanche, and I quickly close the door, but I donâ??t think thatâ??s what
Matthew 6:6 means when it says â?? But whenever you pray, go into your closet
and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father
who sees in secret will reward you.â? So an actual closet is out of the
question. When I was a new mom, I had older more experienced mothers tell
me to put a devotional booklet like â??Our Daily Breadâ? and bible in the
bathroom since as a new mom, that is the only place that you may sit down
and be alone in a day. Let me tell you, those women LIED! I have not been
alone in the bathroom since 1993! With five children at home and a husband,
I do at least four loads of laundry a day in order to keep up with the dirty
laundry and as I was in the laundry room one day, I was complaining to God
that I didnâ??t have a time and place to pray alone and “What are you doing
now?” was wordlessly impressed upon my heart. â??Hmmm, talking to God and that
would be praying…â? So now I am happy to report
that my laundry room is now my prayer closet. God knows to meet me in the
laundry room. Usually when I go to do laundry I am left alone, too!
Amazingly no one is in a hurry to help do laundry and so at least four times
a day, everyday I have unhurried time with God.
So what does this have to do with you? I want to encourage you to find a
place everyday that you can have unhurried and uninterrupted time with God.
God does not share our economy of â??busier is better.â? Rather, you and I are
responsible for the depth of our relationship with God. And I donâ??t know
any other way to go into the depths of God than through the discipline of
If you are a farmer, perhaps your prayer closet is the cab of your combine,
perhaps if you have a commute to work you can turn off your car radio and
use your drive time as your prayer closet. For my brother in law who hunts
everyday, both in his leisure time and for his job, his time in the woods is
his prayer closet. You just have to look around and find your place in your
life to be alone with God.
What started me thinking along these lines was a fellow named Brother
Lawrence. Brother Lawrence was a 17th century monk who wrote Practicing the
Presence of God. Now since he was a monk you’d think it was easy for him to
keep his focus on God, but it wasn’t. He was the monastery cook and had
many of the same challenges that many women have today. At the monastery, he
spent most of the time in the kitchen. Initially, Brother Lawrence hated
this. For a full decade, he chafed against his situation. He was
responsible for feeding the monastery “family” when cooking involved hard
physical labor. But then he had a day that a profound peace came over him
and he decided to live in Gods presence every moment, but often the noise
and distractions of his job intruded on his thoughts of Jesus. He wrote
that it took him 10 years of dedicated practice before he learned to be
consistently in Gods presence. No longer dreading work in the kitchen, he
now felt as close to God peeling potatoes as he did kneeling at the altar.
Even then he still lost his focus, but he didn’t let it bother him. He
wrote: â??I worshipped him as often as I could, keeping my mind focused on His
holy presence and calling my attention back whenever I found myself becoming
distracted. This exercise was not easy, and yet I was continued in it, in
spite of how hard it was, without worrying or feeling guilty every time my
thoughts wandered. I worked at this all day long, not only during prayer
times, for at all times, every hour, every minute, even in the midst of my
busiest times I drove out of my mind anything that might distract me from
thoughts of God. …practicing this over and over, it becomes a habit and
the presence of God becomes the natural condition for us.
So this is what I have aspired to. Although I have many interruptions and
distractions in my day that can’t be deferred, Babies need nursing, toddlers
need help with the potty, dogs need let out, dinner needs made, older kids
need help with schoolwork and somewhere in there I need to get dressed, keep
the house from being a biohazard and get MY schoolwork done! So, I try to
keep my God focus throughout the day.
I try to be creative, because the truth is that when Iâ??m not I often forget
or become distracted. When driving, I often pray for the driver ahead of me
and behind me and so on. I remember as a kid having a Volkswagon Beetle as
a reminder to punch my sister and yell out slugbug! But now I use VW bugs to
remind me to pray for my family and because I used to worry for my husband
Scottâ??s safety when he drove a little Ford Festiva, everytime I see one I
try to thank God for something in my life. Without fail, every time hear
the siren go off in town or see a firetruck or ambulance with its lights on
I pray for the firemen and whoever it is that is so much trouble that they
need their help. I listen to Christian radio while cleaning the kitchen,
and of course being around children and doing the childrenâ??s sermon allows
me to remember my sense of wonder about all of Gods creation.
We will rarely find God in the hectic moments in our lives, but we will
often find Him in the quiet moments. Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that
I am God.” But we are too much like Martha. For we live in a Martha world.
We need to be like Mary. There are times when we need to just stop and be
quiet and still, and rest in the simple presence of God. It is good for our
own soul, it is good for our relationship with others, and it is good for
our relationship with God.
In 1990 a woman entered a Haagen-Dazs in the Kansas City Plaza for an
ice-cream cone. While she was ordering another customer entered the store.
She placed her order, turned and found herself staring face to face with
Paul Newman. He was in town filming a movie. His blue eyes made her knees
buckle. She finished paying and quickly walked out of the store with her
heart still pounding. Gaining her composure she suddenly realized she didnâ??t
have her cone; she turned to go back in. At the door she met Paul Newman who
was coming out. He said to her, “Are you looking for your ice-cream cone?”
Unable to utter a word she nodded yes. “You put it in your purse with your
When was the last time the presence of God made you forget what was going on
around you? Made you forget the dishes? Made you forget the ball game? Made
you forget the bank account? Made you forget where…you put your ice cream