Kenneth R. Wade is an associate editor of Ministry.

How many times have I started a day of ministry with a brief season of prayer ended with the laconic plea "Lord, help me today to do Your will in Your will in Your way!" then rushed off to attack my mental list of "must do" items with a resolution to spend more time with the Lord "later"? I fear I am by nature more of a Martha than a Mary. My natural workaholic temperament gets great satisfaction from seeing jobs finished, and rails against the part of me that says, "Stop! It's time to sit and learn at the feet of Jesus!"

Early in my ministry I was afraid to be seen sitting down without an open book in hand, for fear that someone would think I was loafing. Then one day I discovered that Abraham, the friend of God, had his closest encounter with the Lord one day while he was sitting in the shade. The Bible doesn't say whether Abraham was napping or meditating, but when he looked up he saw three men, one of whom was the Lord Himself. (See Genesis 18.)

Immediately he jumped up and invited the men to stay, then ran to put Sarah and his servants to work getting a sumptuous meal ready. Abraham must have gone back and conversed with the Lord for as long as it took his household staff to prepare a meal from a whole calf and eighty-four cups of flour. Sarah kept herself busy in the kitchen, and it is here that this story has a fascinating parallel not only with the Martha-Mary story of Luke 10 but also with one of Revelation's most important prophecies about the end of time.

Sarah has much in common with Martha in that both of them got stuck working in the kitchen to serve the Lord while the other chief character in each story had time to sit and listen to the Lord. But Sarah's story is especially interesting because it goes on to show the results of her busyness for the Lord. Later that afternoon when God made the most wonderful promise of miraculous providence that Sarah could ever hope to hear, she laughed it off!

Was her faith in God's ability to provide her with a son weaker than Abraham's because she had spent her time working for the Lord instead of listening to Him? If it had been socially acceptable for her to leave the pots and pans and join the male conversation, might her faith in God have been stronger?

There is an important lesson for me here, because it comes much more naturally to me to busy myself "serving the Lord" than to take time to sit and listen for His instructions and promises to provide.

And it is here that I see an important parallel to Revelation 13. That chapter predicts that at the end of time, when everyone has to decide whether or not to accept the mark of the beast, the two-horned beast's main coercive thrust will be to take away the buying and selling rights of those who reject the mark (verse 17). In other words, those who refuse the mark will have to trust solely in God to provide their earthly needs when the beast's decree is enforced.

The real danger I perceive in getting "trapped in the kitchen" with Martha and Sarah, doing good works for the Lord, is not that I will see the works as meritorious, but rather that I will allow working for God to become more important than cultivating a trusting relationship with Him.

The contrast between the saved and the lost in Revelation 13 and 14 is drawn between those who follow the Lamb and receive God's imprint upon their minds (chap. 14:4, 1) and those who bow to a man-made image and receive the beast's imprint upon the mind or hand (chap. 13:15-17.) (That the beast's number typifies the incompleteness of man's works is a related fact that space does not permit my delving into here.)

The challenge I see here for myself is the challenge of maintaining my walk with the Lamb, when by nature I get such satisfaction from being out in the kitchen with Martha and Sarah. Certainly busyness and worship are both important, but they must be kept in proper balance.

I was spiritually blessed by the part I had in preparing this issue with its emphasis on the pastor's devotional life. My own devotional life was strengthened as I read and reread the articles, and I hope yours will be too.--K.R.W.

Advertisement - Digital Discipleship (300x250)

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus
Kenneth R. Wade is an associate editor of Ministry.

January 1986

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

Knowing Him better

Why do we need a devotional life? What kind of devotions best meet that need? What does Jesus' example teach us about devotions? How do faith and devotions relate? And on what does the maturing Christian's prayer life focus?

Secrets of great preachers

What keeps great preachers preaching? The lives of some of history's greatest reveal the common thread of a strong devotional life. The secret of their strength lay in their constant devotion to prayer and Bible study.

Christian meditation

Meditation can mean something far greater than staring wistfully at drifting clouds. When guided by Scripture and practiced regularly, it can open whole new vistas to your understanding of God and His Word.

The key to a dynamic ministry

Luke, more than any other Gospel writer, sees prayer as an essential factor in the ministry of Jesus. Only Luke mentions Jesus' praying before selecting the twelve discipies, and only Luke describes in vivid detail His sweating drops of blood in Gethsemane.

The church is an organization too

Is bureaucracy ever anything other than an obstacle? What can the church learn from the business world about assimilating and nurturing members? Insights from organizational theory may help you strengthen your church's ministry.

Children of the parsonage

What's it like to be a PK? The author's survey of a number of young people from pastoral families turned up some surprising responses-most of them quite positive. She suggests practical ways to help your children benefit most from life in the parsonage.

Content with crumbs?

How do you react when the Lord seems aloof? The Syrophonecian woman was persistence personified. She received a blessing because she knew her need. Her story can help us know our own need better.

Sickness in a bottle

"I have never been involved with a church in which alcoholism was not present," asserts the author. He suggests ways to recognize this problem, examines its causes, and points toward effective treatment. The first in a two-part series.

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - Southern Adv Univ 180x150 - Animated


Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - Digital Discipleship (160x600)