THE PLACE FOR ALL OF US
“… she fell down at his feet …” John 11:32 Living Bible
It is to anyone who loves Jesus a very remarkable thing that in all the places in the Gospels where we find Mary, she is found at Jesus’ feet. In Luke 10:39 she gathered at His feet to listen to His teachings. In John 11:32 she gathered at His feet to ask questions and lament her loss. In John 12:3 she gathered at His feet to love the Lord in the most sacrificial spirit and with adoring gratitude.
All three times she is at His feet—and that is the place for us! There is always room at the cross and room at His feet for us to gather.
The Puritan pastors often repeated a lovely sentence, “If you lay yourself at His feet, He will take you in His arms.” At Jesus’ feet is the right place to learn, at Jesus’ feet is the best place to fully express our deepest thoughts, and at Jesus’ feet is the right place to worship and adore Him. — So we could say—the feet of Jesus—the place to learn, the place to lament, and the place to love Him lavishly.
This is an important emphasis for those of us who somehow were told that the first thing we should do after our conversion was to “get busy in the Lord’s work!” Activism was taught to us, and the result was that too many people were soon in the fast lane running on empty! Walter Knight said, “Many Christians are so busy, they can only hear the click and the clatter of church machinery,” and very often we end up duplicating something that God has never blessed, and it proves to be a waste of time. The sad result is with a heart to please God, we end up with a sense of failure and fatigue. The classic statement may have been made by A. W. Tozer, “In an effort to get the work of the Lord done, we often lose contact with the Lord of the work.”
The tragic result is, we suddenly, in Christian activity, look up and realize we are no longer in touch with God. We feel the exact same emotion we sense in everyday life except, it’s at church doing God’s work; hurry, scurry, and noise and numbers! Out of breath, we confess that the urgent has crowded out the ultimate. Often, we finally discover that the Lord is first interested in us being what we should be rather than us doing what we should do. Without the blowing of the wind of God, we end up out of the wind—expended and exhausted. Many Christians have, with puzzled expression, wondered, “Lord, how do I be the Christian I have become?”
Possibly, no one had lovingly reminded us what was written more than a hundred years earlier by F. B. Meyer, “The flesh loves excitement. It is always ready to jump up and run somewhere. It hurries into action. The Holy Spirit does not! Satan rushes men, God leads them.”
Vance Havner’s homely insights are full of wisdom, “We have been too busy chopping wood to take time out to sharpen the axe.” And it is true that we can be so immersed in a life of active service that we have no time to commune and converse with God. We are not, like Mary, sitting at His feet. It has been called the “barrenness of busyness.”
Let us believe that there is more spiritual health and healing in daily time given to personal devotion for personal spiritual growth than a lifetime of typical jumbled church activity. The Lord would counsel us to join David in saying, “The one thing I want from God, the thing I seek most of all, is the privilege of meditating in his Temple, living in his presence every day of my life, delighting in his incomparable perfections and glory … My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me, O my people.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming.’” (Psalm 27:4, 8; Living Bible) You join me in confessing that I could spend a half hour just analyzing those words and another half hour or more thinking how to apply them to my life.
John Gossip told an experience of a supernatural encounter in a Scottish church in Glasgow. He described how it happened on a Sunday morning as he slowly went up the winding steps of the high pulpit. He said, “Jesus met me on the steps and we had conversation there.” We all need to have deep and profound conversion with Jesus as Mary had at Jesus’ feet or John Gossip had on the pulpit steps in the Glasgow church.
And I do mean the most intimate conversation, maybe so intimate that it cannot be discussed. Consider this an example of it: “The deep, intimate, sacred dealing of God with the soul cannot be proclaimed from the housetops. It is only by direct permission from the Spirit Himself that we may be free to relate to others these experiences, and that for the glory of God alone,” said James S. Stewart.
There is no substitute for this intimate fellowship with the Lord. There needs to be a daily anointing of the Holy Spirit, that comes directly from time alone with the Lord Jesus and a refreshing devotional life. Hopefully no one would challenge the comment of Thomas Goodwin, who spoke about this saying, “I have known men who came to God for nothing else but just to come to Him; they so loved Him. They scorned to soil themselves with any other errand but just purely to be alone with Him in His presence.” I am very sure Mary would agree with him! Goodwin, the Christian divine of long ago, was not saying it is wrong to come to God and ask; that was not his point. First, let us come to God to adore!
What is the cure of our epidemic of superficial Christianity? Here is a good answer, “The greatest need of the moment is that light-hearted, superficial religions be struck down with a vision of God high and lifted up, with His train filling the temple,” again Tozer speaks to us all. When we are awed with God high and lifted up as Isaiah was, it will cause flippancy to disappear from our lives like shadows before a bright sunrise. That often comes with a time of silent awe in His presence, and He will never be really known, at least not intimately, without a sense of adoration mixed with awe!
It is tragic when the word “adore” is not frequently heard from our lips. The Christian who has never taken extended time to adore Him is like a totally blind man peering into a powerful telescope that reaches into outer space. We could all do well just singing that Christmas chorus “Come Let Us Adore Him” every morning before we start the day. We will never reach a time in our life when this is not vital.
Always Jesus Christ should be our subject and the Holy Spirit our teacher. We must regularly come to Him and yet never go beyond Him. He is our all in all. (Colossians 3:11) For it is in Him that all the fullness of God dwells. (Colossians 1:19, 2:9)
A real Christian should never lose the sense of awe and the emotion of amazement during private moments in His presence. Jesus invites us to gather at His feet, and yet I do not think He ever permitted anybody to become overly familiar with Him. We must cultivate a pervasive sense of the presence of God and a sensitivity toward the Holy Spirit. Spurgeon called it “gracious fear,” which is really very wholesome spiritually. In fact, I am confident and assured such awe gives new power for service. Authentic personal godliness flows out of it, so it must be fully appreciated and faithfully cultivated. Like John on Patmos it would do us all good to fall before Him as dead. (Revelation 1:17)
What does it mean to be like Mary at His feet? It is a blend of godly awe that trembles with joyful love. As we gaze upon Him, we think these words, “accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). Nothing could be better.