Martha? Or Mary?

“I don’t care what the Bible says,” Elma stated.

I was a little taken aback by this statement and several others she made. I had put together a handful of verses for her, but she was obviously not going to be interested! She then told me a lot of her life story, mixed with tears. She had lost her husband thirty years ago and two of her children had died young.

I decided afterward that I had prepared to talk to a “Martha,” but Elma was a “Mary.”

One of God’s lessons for me this year comes from a message by Joe Stowell this summer at CCC’s Staff Training. Dr. Stowell was teaching us from John 11 on the resurrection of Lazarus. After He arrived in Bethany, Jesus spoke with Lazurus’ grieving sisters. With Martha, he taught theology. With Mary, He wept.

I realize I need to be aware if someone I am sharing Christ with is open to learning from the Word or if the person just needs my sympathy. God has been sending a lot more “Marys” to me this year. I know I am woefully inadequate to understand their pain and loss. I am learning just to lend a listening ear and show love in any way I can.

I saw Elma again today. I did not know what to talk to her about, so I sent up a silent prayer that God would guide me. In the next minute, she told me her daughter-in-law’s parents died this year six weeks apart. Tears welled up in her eyes.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I always seem to cry when you are here.”

I assured her it was O.K. to cry. She told me about her brother being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other concerns on her heart. I offered to pray for her. After I prayed for her grief and loss, I offered to fix two old family photos of hers. I plan to restore the color to these special pictures, but I pray also that she will know new life in Christ.

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