The Empty Cushion

Today our journey finds us winding down a dusty path between simple mud-brick homes. As we duck into the narrow entrance of one of these, we hear the clatter of a falling jug followed by a soft curse. After the bright sunlight, it takes our eyes a while to adjust to the dark interior, and so we hear the talking and laughter before we actually see the group of people reclining at a low table. From behind a wall a woman appears, the shards of a broken jug in her hands. As she leans down to speak to the rabbi, her eyes narrow accusingly on the single woman in the group.

“Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that Mary just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”The conversation and laughter die at her words, replaced by a taut silence.The rabbi’s eyes never leave the angry woman’s face, yet he reaches across the table and gently squeezes Mary’s arm before he speaks: “My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details! There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it—and I won’t take it away from her.”

The rabbi pushes himself up into a sitting position—creating a space next to him—and he pats the empty cushion. His smile invites Martha to leave her worries and frustrations and come sit at his feet. (Luke 10:38-41)

I wonder how Martha would have responded to such an invitation. I wonder how I would respond. Well, there’s no-one else to do this work. We can’t all just sit around doing nothing. Have you seen how much there is to do? If I don’t get on with it, we’ll never eat!

Yes, our lives are busy and it’s easy to get caught up in all the details, neglecting “the one thing worth being concerned about.”

Every day Jesus pats the cushion next to him and invites us to make a similar choice.

Today, I’m going to remind myself to drop everything for a while. To sit on the empty cushion and talk, listen and laugh at his feet.


If you enjoyed reading this “Step into the Bible” Devotional, you might also enjoy Follow Me.

Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Difficult one!! There are two sides to this. I don’t mind being ‘busy’ so that OTHERS can relax and have a good time…..But then again, sometimes I want to be part of it and drop everything and there is this nagging feeling at the back of my head: get going!
    As a matter of fact, the story of Mary and Martha often enters my head: What is the best choice?

  2. Ek sou baie graag op die kussing wou sit en baie vrae vra – al die dinge waaroor ek twyfel en waarvoor mense so maklik kits-antwoorde en Bybelverse het om hul ongemak met Ongelowige Thomas weg te vee…

  3. I’m so Martha, and have such a hard time heeding the call to drop everything and listen. And when I do, the call of the tasks needing to be finished start crying out. Trying to learn what to do in those times–knowing that I need the refreshing and rest (at least, my head knows) in order to more efficiently complete/prioritize the tasks. So hard… Gayla

  4. Oh I don’t want to leave that cushion empty!!

    Yes, we must pray for our hearts and minds to quieten and escape into His presence.

    So thankful that you followed the leading to start a blog! If you have any questions about anything regarding the technology (which you surely don’t seem to) check with my friend Susan at

  5. Thanks everyone for taking time to read and reflect on Mary & Martha. I have to say it’s been harder than ever to sit on that cushion this week (!) but when I finally did, I realised anew how desperately I need it. Without that time, I am dried out and have nothing to offer to anybody.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *