Choosing to Come Close- A Worship Encounter

Mary sat at Jesus feet to learn, to heal, to worship. It was a position of moving close.

Granny, just plain Granny, was a character we all, staff and kids alike, loved. I was in charge of the children’s ministry and Shirley was the pianist, lover of kids and my  partner in everything that went on in Children’s Ministry. Shirley decided to stretch herself by developing a grandma costumed character. Granny was the old-fashioned variety, not at all like the modern Granny I envision myself being. (Don’t laugh! I’m a hip Nana! That’s what everyone said after that picture someone posted of me Sunday!)

She wore what my mama’s generation called a house dress. It buttoned down the front and hung below the knees. Her shoes were out-dated high tops. She dressed sorta like Vicki Lawrence’s Mama character. But instead of being critical and demeaning, she was warm and loving.

When she was on the schedule to tell a story, I announced, “Oh, there’s Granny!”  as I selected one of the children to open the door and help her into the class. My intention was to encourage respect and good etiquette, but to them, it was a special treat. Granny entered the room slowly and deliberately, leaning heavily on her cane and then lowered herself into an awaiting rocking chair at the front.

The first time our special Granny entered the room, I was surprised how the children responded. Almost as if on cue, the children moved down front and gathered around her rocking chair. They moved in close, politely, even quietly. Sitting on the floor, they hung on every word. The subsequent weeks weren’t always so quiet, but Granny could calm them almost instantly. That picture of kids of all ages sitting at Granny’s feet while they listened to Granny’s stories is a treasured memory.

She loved those children and they knew it.

They wanted to come close.

Granny, aka Shirley, saw it in their faces…in their eyes. They loved her and they wanted to hear what she had to say. No one encouraged them to move, that was never our intention, however, they simply responded to her by moving close.

That’s what Mary did, the Mary in the Bible. Jesus was at their house. Actually, it was Martha’s house, but she and their brother Lazrus lived there too. Martha was cooking, which she always seemed to be doing. Martha, I know the feeling! …but unlike me you weren’t known as the smoke alarm queen. The other day I put some chicken in the crock  pot on high, when I got home I had chicken jerky on the bone. It was rock hard and I’m not exaggerating. Sorry….

But Mary moved close as she heard Jesus talking.

I’m not sure she actually intended to melt onto the floor at His feet, but somehow that’s where she ended up. I wonder if she was still mindlessly holding the dish rag as she lowered herself to be near Jesus.

There was just something about Him.

  • His life changing words.
  • The power and authority that He spoke them with.
  • His love.
  • His miracles.

Without being coerced, she simply sat at His feet.

Mary sat at Jesus feet to learn, to heal, to worship. It was a position of moving close.It wasn’t a position of fear…she wasn’t under His feet…she was at His feet.

  • It wasn’t a defeated position
  • nor a cowering position

No. At His feet was a place to

  • learn
  • heal
  • worship


There is no doubt she was


It was a place

she could see Him

…hear Him

she wouldn’t be distracted

she could watch His facial expressions
she could feel His touch.

She seems to be drawn there naturally, like the children were to Granny.

And that’s where Martha, busy, energetic, accomplished Martha found her–sitting at Jesus feet. While she had been stirring the cook pot, turning the bread and bringing water. Greeting guests. Smiling as if she didn’t have a hundred things to do before they sat down to eat. If all the disciples were there with Jesus, then she had a huge, hungry bunch of men waiting for something to eat. And her job, was to prepare hearty, great tasting food and serve it in a warm, welcoming atmosphere. And it was especially overwhelming, when she realized her help was sitting idle while she worked.

Shierking her duties?

  • her guests?

  • their needs?


But Jesus had a different view of the situation than Martha.

He always sees the heart of the matter.

Jesus saw
A hungry heart Luke 10:39
A hurting heart John 11:32 
A worshipful heart John 12:3


The way Jesus saw it…

Mary was very busy. She was simply choosing to come close.

She was taking care of the one thing that really mattered the most. The vital thing and He would not deprive her of the one thing that mattered the most. Mary recognized the one thing, so she positioned herself accordingly.


Martha didn’t see it at first,

so Jesus helped her see.
He helped her recognize the one thing with the greatest value of all- His presence. I love the wording that is used in the NLT, “My dear Martha,”

He didn’t condemn.

Or ridicule. He didn’t devalue her or her gift of serving. He simply used the teachable moment to helped Martha see, what we, yes, I’m a Martha too. What we Martha’s almost never see is the ONE  THING that is most important.
And that one thing…drum roll please…is positioning ourselves at the feet of Jesus, like Mary, like the kids in our children’s church did Granny.

While it doesn’t have to be a physical position of sitting on the floor.

It must be a deliberate positioning of the heart.
A position that moves us away from distractions,
away from routines
and even productivity.
A position at the feet of Jesus,
all the way to a intimate place of learning,
and worshipping Jesus.

It’s not easy for a Martha.

There are always things to do. Places to go. And the world needs us Marthas.  We get so much done.

But none of that matters if we don’t have Jesus at the center of what we do.

Whether we are a Martha or a Mary or a Lazarus, we have responsibilities and talents that we are assigned to use for Him. Yet, our work, our fun, our endless “To Do List” should never prevent us from the ONE THING- Jesus; that really matters. Life has a way of piling up. Problems can accumulate making us want to just run away and hide someplace safe. Instead, position yourself regularly and strategically at the feet of Jesus to learn, to heal to worship.

We never outgrow our need of Him.

We were made for connection.
Worship and prayer IS that vital connection point.

You can miss it!

Martha was a good woman, a special woman, but she almost missed God’s best. She almost missed it, while she was doing good things.  But she didn’t!

You can miss it, but please don’t.

The message of this story is not to stop serving, just let Jesus be the core from which all your serving flows.
Position yourself to learn, to heal and to worship Jesus. Then allow His life to flow into everything else you do.
That’s how He designed life to be lived.
I can tell you for sure, this week has been a week that this Martha, aka Pat Holland, is choosing to come close to learn, to heal, to worship, because I am so aware Jesus really is the ONE THING, of all things, that really matters.
Don’t forget. You know someone that needs this post. So please share it.
God bless you. I’m praying for you. I pray for all the people that read my posts.
And please pray for me…if you do I know my posts will get better! Man, would I love that. It can be scary to be on this side of the keyboard.
Thank you for reading and passing it on!