Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Vacuum of Cumberfield

I live in Cumberfield.
Well, not all the time.
It's kind of like a seasonal retreat, though the word "retreat" isn't exactly how I would describe Cumberfield. Nevertheless, as much as I dislike Cumberfield, somehow I get sucked right back into in like a Cheerio into a vacuum.
That's it. Cumberfield is a vacuum and I am a Cheerio.
Unfortunately, I am a Cheerio that seems to position myself in the line of suction of the Cumberfield vacuum.

Where exactly is Cumberfield?
Field... for me, it's southern Asia.
And Cumber? That's when I am not at the feet of Jesus.
So Cumberfield is when I am on the field but not at the feet of Jesus.

Oh, I see. You have been to Cumberfield, too.
I thought I recognized you.

What's my "cumber"?
I can hear the vacuum turning on as I list it all.
Homeschooling kids
Language learning
Language barrier
Sunday school
Piano and music ministry
The endless hospitality... visitors, visitors, and more visitors
Grocery shopping
Meal planning

Where does it all end?
The list goes on and on... and there I go.
Cheerio in the vacuum cleaner straight to Cumberfield.

But the list itself isn't Cumberfield.
It's when my focus gets on the list and not on Jesus.

We all know the story.
Martha was a Cheerio just like us.
You can hear the vacuum slurp her up too.

"But Martha was cumbered about much serving..." Luke 10:40

Jesus came to visit, and Martha went to serving.
If that's where the story ended it would have been just fine, but Martha looked at her cumber list and got sucked right on in to Cumberfield. I think she and I would have been great neighbors, because we have been in Cumberfield way too often.

So what happens when someone goes to Cumberfield?
Cumberfield residents develop certain symptoms.

  • Critical of Others- Martha criticized Mary. (vs 40) "My sister hath left me to serve alone!" Martha was looking for Mary to live up to her expectations. She was looking for Mary to solve her problems. When Mary wasn't doing that, Martha attacked. I must admit I have been guilty of this. If people aren't working as much as I think they should, or if they aren't doing the work I think they should, I become critical. After all, I can't do all this on my own, right?

  • Questioning of God's Care-
    Martha bluntly asked, "Lord, dost thou not care?" I usually don't verbalize it, but the question of "why" has entered my mind more than once. "Lord, this is too much for me!"

  • Controlling and lack of submission-
    Martha's cumber showed up in her lack of submission. (vs 40) "Bid her therefore that she help me." Did you catch that? She just commanded Jesus. I can't be too hard on her. When I am dwelling in Cumberfield, I struggle with submission to my husband. I become disrespectful and bossy. As I am searching for relief from my cumber, I take the wheel and try to navigate my way out of Cumberfield.

  • Consumed with worry-
    Martha was fretting over how she could get it all done. She was so worried that she even disrupted her guest to deal with the matter. "And Jesus answered and said into her, Martha, Martha, thou are careful and troubled about many things." Now I haven't exactly disrupted any guests like that while I have resided in Cumberfield, but I have spent many nights dwelling on things instead of sleeping peacefully. I lay awake in bed trying to think through every detail of the cumber list.

  • Choose wrong priorities-
    Martha missed an opportunity. It wasn't the serving. It wasn't the cumber list. It was her priorities. "But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part..." (vs42) Martha forgot to sit at His feet. But here's the great thing: we can "sit at His feet" while washing dishes. We can sit at His feet while hosting visitors. We can sit at His feet while shopping and teaching and singing and planning and preparing. But we also must take the opportunity sometimes to sit at His feet while doing nothing else.
So if we find ourselves in Cumberfield, what do we do?
How do we navigate out of the vacuum?

We must get alone with Him in His Word and in prayer.

"O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;"
Psalm 63:1
Remind ourselves who He is as well as who we are.
He is Lord. We are not.
He is sovereign and loves us.
He is our strength in the cumber list.

"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."
John 15:5  

Abide in Him.


Joyful said...

Very true words for all of us, whether on the field or not. It is a constant struggle for me to find a good balance. God bless you richly as you minister in the field and deal with everything on your plate. May God lighten your burdens and give you an abundance of his joy. xx

Anonymous said...

Wow, this just spoke to exactly where I am right now. Yesterday,I had that verse in my head "abide in Me". Thank you for this! You are a wonderful writer! Kandis

Samantha said...

Your transparent words were such a blessing...

Olivia said...

Love your symbolism!! Thank you for the great reminder.