When we read the story of Mary and Martha and their encounter with Jesus, it is evident that their reactions to the Lord’s presence were quite different.

Mary recognized that she needed to seize the opportunity to be in God’s presence, even at the expense of her due diligence. We know how she laid aside her tasks for a moment in the presence of the Lord while Martha continued working to prepare for their company.

I don’t believe Martha was avoiding being in the room with Jesus, nor was she being rebellious. I think I understand her because I have found myself with a similar mindset on more than one occasion.

She strikes me as the kind of woman who thrives on serving others, ensuring everything is taken care of, planning, and preparing for all the tasks that need to be completed. Everything she does is for her family, and, in this particular setting, she is preparing for God Himself. Oh, how I understand that dynamic.

I’m like Martha, always planning, preparing, serving, caring, and doing for my family and the Lord. Of course, I want to be in the presence of the Lord. I desire those intimate moments where I can hear His voice and lay all my burdens at His feet. But in the back of my mind, the incomplete tasks on the day’s list often kept me from His presence until I learned to adopt what I call “the Mary and Martha balance.”

I will admit it was easier to get time alone with the Lord once my children were old enough to help with little chores around the house. But I needed to learn when to say, I’ve done all I can do today, and Jesus is calling. Sometimes, that looks like dishes in the sink, laundry unfolded, floor un-swept, or even takeout for dinner. But in the long run, it looks like a more patient wife and mother, a more willing servant, and a less stressed-out mind and body. It is easier said than done!

Restructuring my life and tasks to fit God back where He should always be was convicting.

The first step was repentance and rededication. And oh, how wonderful it was to know that He was waiting there, ready to pick up right where we left off; that’s what mercy does!

The second step was getting my family on board. And to my surprise, they, too, were happy to exchange a less-than-tidy household for another moment at the feet of Jesus. Self-discipline is essential to having the Mary and Martha balance in life, but recognizing that such a balance exists will enable us to draw closer to the Lord.


I am a wife and mother of three beautiful girls! We live in Warren, Texas where my husband and I serve the Lord in music, youth, children, and outreach ministries. My passion is teaching Bible studies and teaching others how to give Bible studies. I love to write devotions and Bible studies and share the gospel of Jesus with others.


  1. Virginia Haynes

    I agree with your writing!! a few more thoughts I’ve had: Jesus never condemned a woman in the NT..He helped Martha (and me) get priorities straight. Some friends have said to me, “I’m a Martha; I’m a Mary.” Well, why not just take their good points, but be like Jesus, There are many wonderful stories in the Bible about women; I’ve studied and been blessed by many of them. But one thing I’ve learned over the years: take the good traits of the women one is studying, but all lessons should point to Jesus…He is my model.

    • Rena'Burns

      True words! So easy to be a Martha while desiring to be a Mary. Only Jesus can help us find & keep that balance.