Last Monday I took the motorcycle out for the first time this season. I ride an old cruiser bike (I gave up asphalt blistering power years ago) and I pride myself on taking good care of it. In the two weeks prior I had changed the oil, inspected the pads and flushed the brake lines, installed a new luggage rack, and polished the chrome. It has lots of chrome . Right before I stored it for the winter I had mounted a new back tire.

Like I said, I take good care of it. That’s why I was rebuking myself less than a block away from the house because I noticed two things right away: the low fuel light was on and the front end was wallowing. That meant I’d left a parked bike with an empty gas tank over a cold, humid winter, the perfect recipe for rust inducing condensation build up inside the tank. Further, I’d forgotten to check the air in the tires before I rode.

Rust and gasoline don’t mix. If it did take hold it will be the dickens to get out. (Anybody got a bore scope to loan?) And if you’ve ever pushed a heavy wheel barrow with a nearly flat tire you have a feel for riding a five hundred plus pound motorcycle on underinflated rubber. Rust in the tank can plug up the fuel system and stop your engine. Low tire pressure can wreck you. Thankfully, neither thing happened. I filled the tank and the tire and got home safely. But I was ticked at myself for polishing chrome, outside stuff, when I should have been tending to fuel and air pressure, the invisible, inside stuff. (You see where this is headed, right?)

What’s all that got to do with the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42? When Jesus came to visit, Mary sat at his feet, filling up her soul. She was working on her inner person. Martha was so busy fussing with preparations, making the meal, serving and no doubt cleaning up, she didn’t have time to tend to inner things. When she complained that Mary wasn’t helping “polish the chrome” Jesus gently rebuked her.

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

In other words, Mary was paying attention to the invisible stuff of life, communing with Jesus in soul and spirit. Martha wasn’t. It’s not as though dinner wasn’t important. It’s just that it shouldn’t have been the only thing on her agenda. She could have let the dishes sit and tended to her soul.

Here’s the thing, all of us are Marthas from time to time. It’s easy to keep ourselves so busy, so overloaded with external responsibilities that we let the inner tank run dry, the inner tube run flat. Staying spiritually healthy means taking time to fill up on Jesus, to talk with him and to listen, to worship and to learn in the daily rhythms of life, Sunday morning alone won’t do it.

What about you? How’s the inside stuff doing? Got enough air in your spiritual tires? Keeping your spiritual tank full? Remember, the chrome can wait. When you get out on the road of life, it’s the inside stuff that matters.

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