Listening for the both of us

(This story is a retelling of Luke 10:38–42.)

It was late in the season. The Heat led the series against the Lakers 2–1, with Game Four taking place this afternoon. I was busy. I was always busy, but today she had invited guests over for lunch, so busy had taken on a whole new dimension.

She had a lot of friends. Isn’t it funny how your younger sister seems to always have more playmates than you? I didn’t always care for her friends—but of course, one still wants to make a good impression. And a good impression takes a lot of work.

The salad was already done—it was a packaged mix, though I didn’t think they’d notice. However, the steaks were still frozen, the stove was a mess, the potatoes were sitting idly on the counter, and someone had forgotten to do their breakfast dishes.

First things first. I mumbled a blessing on whoever had invented the microwave, slipped into my favorite pink apron, and scrambled through the cluttered drawers looking for the peeler. The day had begun as a losing streak for me, and I hoped the game later would cheer me up. I wouldn’t miss it for the world! Some people said I should watch the WNBA or the Home Shopping Network, but I had always been a tomboy.

Somewhere in the midst of unplugging the sink and looking for the broom, I heard her amble in the door and sprawl into the living room with her friend. I knew I should be out there with them, socializing and at least making small talk, but I was too busy. And if I knew my sister, she could do enough listening for the both of us. She’s not a lazy person—really she’s not. But every time he comes around, she suddenly gets a lazy itch and drops everything to be with him.

Not me, though! I know better than to leave the house a mess just to be with some guy. Besides, any guy who’s worth my time should appreciate a gal who’s able to stay on top of things.

The salad bowl slipped out of my fingers! Now what?! Can you serve guests using plastic? The orange glass crunched under my shoes, and I still couldn’t find the broom! I bent to pick up the larger pieces, and my finger caught on something. Blood crept down my wrist and onto my sleeve. Mary’s tinkling laugh floated into the kitchen from the living room—no doubt sharing a special moment with her friend.

The dish towel was soggy and dirty, and one or two potatoes tumbled onto the floor as I jerked it from the counter and dabbed at my arm. The sink was overflowing onto the counter and floor. The world was spinning. Why was everything going wrong?

“Martha.”

What did they want with me? I hustled into the living room.

“Master!” I said. “Don’t you care that my sister has left me to take care of you alone?” I waved my arm at her. “Can you, like, ask her to help me a little?”

He stood and touched my wrist. “Martha, you’re getting too worked up. I know you have tons on your mind, but the most important thing right now is not taking care of me. Listening to me—what your sister has chosen to do—is the most important thing. You don’t expect me to take it away from her, do you?”

I shook my head and stared at the floor.          “No.” I swallowed. “Guess not.”

The blood was gone. The tear in my skin had miraculously sealed shut.

“Sit down with us,” he said. “Listen to what I have to say.” His eyes crinkled at the corners as he grinned. “Please?”

Our brother would be home any second from his treatments at St. Lazarus Memorial Hospital, and the kitchen was—still—a wreck. But the most important thing …

I scooted into the love seat with my sister and her friend. I listened to what he had to say.

I didn’t notice when the microwave timer started beeping. I forgot all about the big game coming up in a few minutes.

I was busy.

* * *

For the Christian, heaven is where Jesus is. We do not need to speculate on what heaven will be like. It is enough to know that we will be forever with Him. When we love anyone with our whole hearts, life begins when we are with that person; it is only in their company that we are really and truly alive. It is so with Christ. In this world our contact with Him is shadowy, for we can only see through a glass darkly. It is spasmodic, for we are poor creatures and cannot live always on the heights. But the best definition of it is to say that heaven is that state where we will always be with Jesus, and where nothing will separate us from Him anymore.—William Barclay (1907–1978)