October 1, 2012

Learning at His feet

When I share with others that I’m going back to school to finish my Master’s degree, the reactions vary. One person, a pastor, was instantly excited. He almost jumped off his chair and cheered. Others look at me as if I am out of my mind. 

The decision to do this was not for ‘people pleasing’ yet I’m encouraged by the cheers. I’ll need those people to pray for me as my old mind tries to wrap itself around new ideas. I’m trying to not even think about the challenges of learning two languages or trying to remember how to spell Rehoboam and other words not in the average spell-checker.

Those who wonder what has possessed me could easily have me second-guessing this decision. Isn’t serving God more important than learning about Him? Yesterday, I must have been wondering about that for I went to bed worried whether the lack of support from some people might pull me into a slump or even quit before I start. However, God has this amazing way of being my very best encourager. Today’s devotional reading hits me right where I am, using the story of busy Martha…
And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:39–42)
Mary sat at Jesus’ feet. Mary wasn’t refusing to work, but knew that her time with Jesus was short. She could make lunch later, but when Jesus was gone, so was her opportunity. She selected to sit at His feet.

The Old Testament has several verses that use the word ‘portion’ but the one that I’m the most familiar with is Psalm 73:26. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” This verse comforted me when my heart problems started and it comforts me now. Choosing to sit at His feet is the strength of my life, strength to know my future, strength to know what God wants me to do in the present. He is my portion, my allotment in life.

Mary learned much at the feet of Jesus, but the most important thing she learned was about His impending death on the cross for the sins of the world (see John 12:3ff and John 11:1ff). Even His disciples hadn’t figured that out, but when she anointed Jesus’ feet with precious nard, He commended her, knowing she had intended to use it for His burial. 

Any anxieties I might have about “should I or shouldn’t I?” are answered with this simple story. I am where Jesus wants me. W. Hay Aitken, who wrote the devotional article, says that at the feet of Jesus is my place of privilege and blessing as well as where I am to be educated and made fit for the practical duties of life. It is at His feet where I renew my strength as I wait on Him. Here I learn how to mount on wings as eagles as I become possessed with that true knowledge that empowers me to serve without fretting, as Martha did. I learn from Him how eternal service is to be done, and am given His motivation to do it. 

As happens now, He will give me errands to run and people to bless while I am studying. At His feet I will find solace in the trials of that work — and they happen — and in the trials of life in general. At the feet of Jesus I will get a deeper foretaste of heaven even in these days on earth — for sitting at His feet is the closest I can be to those heavenly places. Gazing upon His glory right now is doing what I will never get tired of doing when I leave this place.

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