Sitting in the Middle of My Mess
Glynnis Whitwer

“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.” Luke 10:38-39 (NIV)

I tend to consider myself a "Martha" type personality. And I don't mean Martha Stewart. By this time in December, that Martha probably has her hand-made cards mailed out, 10 batches of candy made and gift-wrapped, and her entire home decorated.

No, I'm nothing like Martha Stewart. In fact, last year I didn’t even manage to decorate the tree. It got put up and because it was pre-lit, it had lights. I managed to put a few gifts under it before Christmas. That only happened because my dear children kept looking at me with those big hopeful eyes, asking when I was going to wrap SOMETHING. But that was it.

Last Christmas ended one of the most stressful years of my life. I'm thankful nothing devastating happened to my family. But the demands on my time exceeded my available time. When that happens, I get behind ... on everything. So I spend lots of time just trying to keep my head above water.

Back to being a Martha. If you know the Luke chapter 10 story of Martha and her sister Mary, that's the Martha I'm talking about. And it's not a flattering comparison. That Martha had the privilege of hostessing Jesus. Jesus actually came to her house. Instead of sitting at His feet like her sister Mary did, Martha worked and actually complained to Jesus that Mary wasn't helping her enough.

Jesus gently chided Martha, and affirmed Mary's choice to sit and spend time with Him in the middle of all the work that had to be done. I remember the day clearly last December when I decided to follow Mary’s example and sit in the middle of my mess to spend time with Jesus. Normally, I feel as if everything has to be clean before I can "treat" myself to some down time. I believe I have to have the dishes clean, counters cleared, urgent emails addressed, laundry going, home-based business checked for orders, etc.

Normally, by the time I've done all that, something else has demanded my attention, and my time with Jesus is neglected - much like what happened to Martha.

But not that day. That day I sat at the kitchen table and looked at my mess. It was big. There were papers strewn over every surface, a lunch box left on the counter from the day before, breakfast dishes everywhere, jackets from yesterday, blankets that had been left on the couch, dog fur forming balls, and the list went on. I had to fight my instinct to get up. And I won.

I sat in the middle of my mess, and spent time with Jesus. I pictured Him sitting across the table from me. It was pure pleasure ... and the mess amazingly faded from my view. My stress melted away, and I felt renewed.

This Christmas, whether you've gotten your house decorated or not, whether you've mailed out cards or not ... Jesus has come to your house for a visit. I had such a good time sitting in the middle of my mess with Jesus last year, I’m planning on doing it again. Will you join us?

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for sending Jesus to be a companion during my hectic days. Help me to remember that peace can only be found when I choose to set aside the pressing demands of my life, and quiet myself with You. Teach me to look for Jesus’ presence in the middle of my mess. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Can Martha Have a Mary Christmas? by Brenda Poinsett

Do You Know Jesus?

Homespun Memories for the Heart by Karen Ehman, Kelly Hovermale and Trish Smith

Visit Glynnis’s blog

Application Steps:
Identify 30 minutes sometime this week when you normally would be working – then commit to spending that time with Jesus.

What are some of the hurdles you face when trying to find a quiet time with God?

This month, what practices can you implement to recognize Jesus’ presence in your home?

Power Verses:
Psalm 37:7a, “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him …” (NIV)

Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (NIV)

Colossians 3:15, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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Blogger The Reilly Family said...

I just wanted to let you know I feel exactly the same way. Your devotion really struck me this morning. I do find that I have alot of excuses not to make the time for God. Matthew 6:33 kind of says it all. We need to seek him first and I know he will provide. If only we would just trust and give everything over to him.

God Bless all of you at Proverbs 31 ministries and Merry Christmas

Rhonda Reilly
Titusville, FL

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great message,we should not only try to find time with God,but try to find time to help others who are lost and need help,just look around and you will see people who are in real big messes,and they need your help,but most important they need the the love of God,and for the Holy Spirit to ignite the flame of believe in their souls,do you know of anyone in deep need of help? do God a favor and help them out of their mess,God will bless you for doing so!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this devotional today. It's what my heart really needed to hear.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This addresses the exact place that we are in this year. Our house is a renovating mess. I had pretty much decided not to try to decorate but you gave me an idea. I can put our tree with lights on the drywall that is lying on the saw horses in front of the picture window that will be something easily done and a beautiful encouraging way to celebrate Jesus' Birth, His Life, His Death, His great, awesome Love for us. I thank Him that He gave you the words and you wrote them.

Anonymous Anonymous said...


This has been a VERY stressful year for us. There have been many changes and challenges in our lives. The only decoration I have is a tablecloth with some "Christmasy" theme on it. No tree, no lights...not even my Manger scene. I only have 2 or 3 gifts and Christmas is 2 weeks away. I don't even want to do it this year.

In the middle of my "mess"? Yes, there are boxes of books that have been sitting on my floor for months now. Everything seems chaotic.

Thank you for reminding me to STOP-DROP AND PRAY (spend time with the LORD)...I need to know HIs nearness in the midst of all this. ( Sometimes I feel like I avoid Him, perhaps I am afraid that He won't 'show up" for our "date")...but this year...I feel the need for His presence more than ever...I need to know what it feels like to be loved by God. Thank you for the reminder...He is willing if I will come.

May we each do "the better part" that Mary did....for that is a gift that will not be taken from us! :^)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading so much "Sitting in the Middle of My Mess" and Jesus loving this quality time with me.

I'm a full-time student/mom to three young adorable children. My house is in a mess right now, but I know sitting with me is more important to Jesus than my mess.

After spending our time together I know He will help me clean this mess, but I have to ask Him first on how to clean my mess. :)

I love the Biggest Helper! He really cleans up great. lol!

Merry Christmas to every Proverbs 31 women and all.

God bless!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always feel that way. Everything has to be perfect before I have that time alone with Jesus. Then I get busy trying to make everything perfect many times I run out of time and have no time to sit with him. Right now is a perfect time, I felt as if you were describing my house. So I'm going to go sit in my mess and talk to him. Thanks.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good morning ladies,

In this season of my life I am feeling so disconnected from most everything. A mommy to a wonder 3 year old boy with the best job ever that allows me to work from home and be mommy first.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts it helps me remember I am not alone. No matter what is going on I can connect with you. More importantly your words remind me that in the middle of this messy life I am never alone, Jesus is here with me...ALWAYS. It is time to connect more faithfully with Him and clean up this mess I have surrounded myself with.

May God bless and keep all my sisters in Christ.

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thank you for posting this today. I am completely in the middle of my mess, and losing it. I was so frustrated with the mess that my children had made, yet again, as soon as I got finished cleaning, and I decided that I just couldn't do it anymore. I have been feeling like I was a failure as a mother, spouse, and person and I just couldn't do that to my family anymore. I shut myself in the basement and told God that He had one more chance to try to show me how to deal with this mess, or I was going to do something on my own. I don't know what that something would have been, but somewhere along the lines of walking out on my family because they didn't need such a failure pulling me down.

For some reason, I turned to your devotional today, which I haven't done in weeks; and I found exactly what I was needing.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you to Anonymous at 2:16pm. I haven't locked myself in my basement yet, but have "locked" myself in my mind. I've been so down - not a good mom...impatient, yelling, just not loving, not a good wife...judgemental, sharp tongued and sometimes just plain angry. I've been such a disappointment. I've quit. Thank you for your words as they let me know I'm not alone. Thank you for this message as it reminded me to just chill with Jesus, and not get too caught up in taking the "messes" as a personal attack on who I am as a woman, a mother and a wife. I am a daughter of God and He WANTS TO SPEND TIME WITH ME EVEN WHEN I'M NOT BEING SO PRETTY!! refreshing!

Blogger Glynnis Whitwer said...

Thank you to everyone who left a comment today. Sometimes when I write a devotion I believe I'm the only one who feels like me. Everyone else looks like they've got it all together. I believe if we shared more of our struggles we would be encouraged to know we aren't alone. Thank you so much for sharing.
Love - Glynnis

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG (Goodness)This made my month!
I feel joy and encouragement reading that I am not alone in my messes!!!(Feeling so disorganized at times which leads to feeling so angry with soo many litle and big things) Definatley not a God honoring place to be- and hearing from other sisters in Chrsit gives me hope and renewed energy to stay up later or say no to some fun activitiy so I get get my home in order- yes I know- just so it can get messed up again, just not as messy each time!!! Thanks Gylnnis for your heart- "realness" is what really encourages!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for your words of encouragement. I have shut down emotionally and spiritually. The roller coaster ride has left my head and heart aching. And well my family, I guess they do not know if I am coming or going. I know this is not the life God has chosen for me but sad to say the one I created. I have been tempted to give up. In some ways I guess I have. The anger and frustration have just taken over, maybe for too long, how do I turn back? How do I undo the hurt that my actions have caused? How do I let go of my hurt without discounting my own feelings? I know in my heart I need to turn everything over to God but then my mind takes it back wanting to be validated. Thank you to all that shared their thoughts. It give me hope on so many levels.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been such a Martha! Thank you for this poignant insight on what we should all be focused on.

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