I am an anxious traveler. In fact, I could be this woman, straining to see the train coming down the track. I look and pace. I check my watch and check the minutes on the “next train is coming” sign. Why do you think they HAVE those signs, Tom? they’re for people like me!
I would like to be the paper-reading, iPad-toting waiter, but I’m not. In fact those people make me angry. How can they wait so patiently at a time like this? And secretly I wonder why can’t I be more like them? The ones who take life in stride, just as it comes, one routine step after another?
Why? Because I have somewhere to be! People are expecting me, waiting for me. They won’t hold the next train. If I miss my connection, I’ll be late again, or I’ll miss my opportunity or…all this stirs inside my head as I wait, anxiously.
How do I know this is the reason for my anxious waiting? Because, I don’t wait like this when I am heading home. I know that train is coming, in due time. I can wait. It will be here. No, the train I am anxious about is “my train, coming in.”
Oh, I have tried to be more adult about this. Tried to trick myself into waiting patiently. I have even tried to practice the non-nervous waiting look. I’ll pull out my book or my phone and pretend I am one of them. But it doesn’t help. I can’t pull it off. Because being still and waiting doesn’t fool me.
This came to mind this morning as I read the Upper Room Magazine. The scripture takes place at the home of Martha and Mary. You know it, I’m sure.
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 sister has 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)
I wondered whether Jesus was really asking Martha to be more like Mary. I mean, if I were Martha, sitting at the Lord’s feet as Mary has chosen to would not help me. Pretending not to be anxious would not make me less so. I would probably just sit and fume about all I should be doing. In fact, I might just get a bit miffed at Jesus for making me sit there.
No, the Lord knows me. He knows what makes me anxious and He knows what calms me. What He wants is for me to focus on the one thing that needs doing. And to do it. Not pretend it will take care of itself. And, in the doing, He will show Himself. I think He may be showing me that this whole journey we are taking is just one big trip on the home bound train. And then I won’t be anxious. I’m never anxious waiting for that train.
(Published today on the Floris UMC website. You can listen to the sermon here.)