“You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.”
–Revelation 2:3-5 (NLT)

When I was courting my wife Stephanie, my love for her was driving me crazy (and it still is). I wanted to find a way to show her that she was more important to me than anyone else on this Earth, so I did all that I could to convey that message. Every weekend, we would go out to eat or do something special, but the problem came one month when I didn’t have enough money in my account to pay the rent because of that. Fortunately, my landlord is also my friend, and he let me take care of things the next month. But I wanted to share this story with you not because I am advocating the misuse of funds. I simply want to illustrate the way in which love can take hold of us all.

In contrast to my tale, think about the story of Mary and Martha with me. In both Luke and John, the story is told about a feast that is prepared for Jesus. I will take a few liberties in my own retelling of this story.

Mary anoints Jesus in preparation for his burial, while Martha’s completely stressed out because she has to handle all the preparations for the feast. It’s a hot day outside, and there’s hardly any fresh air in the tiny and windowless house. There’s a lot of confusion, because people are rushing in to see their friend Lazarus, who had just been raised from the dead by Jesus. In the meantime, one of the disciples (Judas) is accusing Jesus of mishandling funds.

Martha finally reaches the breaking point. She rushes in with hands on hips and gestures for silence. Then, in a New York accent, she shouts in disgust, “Yo, Jesus! Tell this lazy sister of mine to get off the couch already! I’m doing all the work here!”

Wiping her hands on her apron, Martha starts heading back toward the kitchen. Jesus turns and stops her, with ointment still dripping from him. He tells her that Mary has chosen that which is better. Jesus senses that Martha doesn’t understand this statement. “Let me put it another way,” he tells Martha. “I am not saying that Mary shouldn’t help you out at all. But this dinner you’ve been working on will only last a few hours, while Mary has chosen to focus her attention on that which is eternal.”

It is much the same way in our lives, if we are not careful. Like Martha, we can get so caught up in the details of day-to-day events that we lose our perspective. Just as Jesus told the church at Ephesus, he is telling you and me to get back to the ABC’s of our Christian lives.

So put him first in everything you do, and spend time bringing the ointment of praise and worship into his presence. Just as you have done (or hopefully will do) with that special someone in your life, find creative ways to tell Jesus how much you love him. He is the embodiment of life, and he wants to give you a life that overflows with love, joy and peace. But if you don’t know him today, he is calling out to you to experience his all-encompassing and eternal love. He said that God so loved you (put your own name in place of “the world”), that whoever should believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. That simply means that we can’t do enough good works to reach up to a holy God. So Jesus died and rose in our place. The Bible says that if we confess Jesus with our mouths, and believe with our hearts that God has raised him from the dead, we will be saved.

So, if you want to know love like you never have before, open your heart to Jesus. If you do know him, get back to basics and put first things first.

Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You may also send your donation to http://www.gofundme.com/tznwnc. Finally, you can send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 377 E. Chapman Ave., Suite 260, Placentia, CA 92870.

If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 641-715-3900, ext. 874157.