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I purchased an abandoned storage unit recently… I know, right? What a crazy thing. We were finding creative ways to earn extra money for a missions trip, and this opportunity was a blessed gift. The elderly gentleman who let it go is of Dutch descent and had a trove of wonderful surprises spanning back to his grandparents! My son and I spent hours going through dishes, relics, and books. Tucked in among the treasures were 2 books that to me represent the rhythms of abiding. The first is an anthology of “Most Beloved Poems”. The second is a cook book put out in the 1920’s by a refrigerator company. The cook book is filled with practical and modern (in its time) solutions to every day problems – the must-be-dones. The poetry anthology is altogether different. It invites its reader to sit, ruminate, dance in imagination and emotion, and ponder hope, love and eternity. 

Each of the books struck me in different ways. I imagined how excited this man’s grandmother was to use her cookbook and all the convenient ways it helped her love her family. But I did not have to imagine how she felt reading the poetry, for there, taped among the aging pages, she had penned her own tributes to the art. Littered throughout the whole volume were lovely, heartfelt messages in verse to her husband. I wondered if she sat at the kitchen table while he was away at work, or if she had scribed by dim light in the evening as he sat across the family room or in the bed beside her.

Each book held different purpose and each inspired a different part of her heart … they remind me of a story in the Bible. 

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sisterhas left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”      

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).

This passage fuels an ongoing discussion in my home. My husband is a do-er… a Martha as it were. He comes alive and feels close to God when He is accomplishing things. I am a be-er… a Mary, if you will. I come alive when I am engaging deep thoughts and personal processes! We each value that which makes us feel most alive. 

My husband is fond of the statement, “If we were all be-ers, nothing would get done.” To which I rebut that if we were only getting things done we would not able to experience the presence of God. Jesus even said, this was the “better” thing. (Yah! See, I win! Jesus was on my team!) Except, wait. Jesus did a lot of things too.

So what is the call? Was Mary being lazy because she wasn’t helping? Jesus didn’t seem to think so. Was Martha in sin because she was preparing the meal? I doesn’t seem a vile thing to feed others, and it wasn’t really her preparation that was under speculation. But the questions persist. Are we to be or to do?  To sit under teaching or serve the house guests?To write poetry or prepare a meal? 

And the answer is … both. While we may be bent toward one or the other, Scripture, from Genesis to Ecclesiastes to Revelation indicates that we are to find joy in work and rest. We are not simply to be… eventually action must take place. So how do we accomplish this? What are the rhythms of abiding?

Well, as we often must in our attempts to answer obscure questions of faith, we return to Eden. At Creation we see God building a relationship with man before he sets him to work. Likewise, with Jesus, we see Him devoting himself to worship and seeking God in the wilderness before He begins His ministry. So this gives us a model of seeking to “be” before we “do”.

That said, I know many who feel nearest to God when they are partnering in doing. There was no better example of this than Jesus. Still, He often “went off to a solitary place to pray” (Mark 1:35b). 

We must ask YHWH because it is He who made us and knows how He designed each of us to move in step with His Spirit. I know saints who meet with God after the rest of their house has fallen asleep; I know others who wake before the dawn to sit in His presence, and I know still more who seek Him in every spare moment and thought of their day.

I believe God is more interested in our heart to abide than in our structure of it.

YHWH is a God of order, but not obsessive compulsion or control… those are idols we make of His order to satisfy our own wisdom.

Creator God, however, designs with order and beauty and peace. This is one of the reasons many of us are drawn to nature. There is a rhythm, a rhyme, a heartbeat to the things God created as they each move in their calling.

According to Romans 1, these creations, dancing out their prescribed rhythm, were designed specifically to point us to YHWH Himself.

God’s adversaries, on the other hand, tend to function in and seek chaos. Our own order will lead to legalism. Our own freedom will lead to licentiousness.

I pray with you, dear friend, as I pray for myself to understand and move more fluidly in these rhythms of abiding. Whether we are in the kitchen completing the must-be-dones, penning the serenades of the soul, or even sitting at Jesus’ feet, may we remember our ultimate goal in the call to abide is to reset ourselves to the rhythm of Creator’s heart. To align our thinking, our motives, and our steps.

I pray He holds you in His gaze today as you live a life of calling.