This story is inspired by Luke 10:38–42.
Jesus comes into my kitchen. “How can I help you with the meal, Martha?” he asks kindly, coming over to where we stand. He places a hand on her forearm.
“Jesus, I feel burdened by my to-do list,” she says, still chopping vegetables. “Some days are harder than others. When you arrive with your friends, I want everything to be just perfect.”
“I don’t need you to be perfect! And I don’t expect a perfect feast when we visit, either. You always do a great job.”
By now Jesus has picked up a knife, and he’s helping slice the vegetables stacked next to his busy friend. “Let me see your list,” he says.
I watch Martha in this meditation, yet I become her, too, as I push to Jesus the small notebook where I log and check off each item I need to complete today.
I imagine that my sister Mary comes in now. She also picks up a knife and gets to work, and I think about all the people who help me when my list is too long.
Meanwhile Jesus scans what I’ve written:
- Meet a deadline.
- Schedule a meeting.
- Revise the budget.
- Reschedule another meeting.
- Resolve a bank issue.
- Answer e-mail.
- Get paper products/groceries.
Jesus asks if I mind if he turns to a blank page. He stops chopping and waits for my answer.
“My to-do list seems interrupted a thousand times,” I explain. “What I hoped to accomplish becomes impossible.”
“I’d like to give you a new task list,” Jesus says, and when I nod, he picks up a pencil. He writes for a moment and then turns the notebook around so I can read it.
At the top he has written my name. Is it really OK to trade my list for his? It says:
- Love God.
- Love myself.
- Love others.
- Love when it is easy.
- Love when it is difficult.
- Love at all times.
I sigh. “Jesus, really?”
Mary is now hard at work cooking the vegetables.
He laughs. “Measure every item on your list against my one command to you: love. If it doesn’t fit in there, then ask yourself why you are doing it, if it’s worth getting upset or sick over, or if you need to let it go. Can something on your to-do list wait until tomorrow?”
I wonder if I really will have enough time for my list if I trade mine for his. The aroma of vegetable stew is filling the kitchen, and memories of how God has seen me through busy days accompany the sounds of the sizzling meal. God is showing me a way to interior freedom.
“Jesus, help me remember that this to-do list is enough!” I say as I see the Apostles come through the door and begin helping with plates, cups, bread, and other sides. It’s getting noisy in the kitchen, but I am at peace. I’m learning that Jesus’ list is the most important one. He smiles, and I return the grin.
God’s task list is an easy yoke and a light burden: love.
Somehow while we talk and laugh, the meal is completed, and in half the time. Jesus takes Martha’s and my hands in his and leads us to the large table, where he invites us to sit down. Mary is already seated. And Jesus serves us the delightful meal. It tastes wonderful.