Saturday, January 17, 2009

Knocking? What Knocking?

As I walked through the house on my early morning vigil to turn off porch lights, I noticed a seemingly dead car in our driveway. It was 22 degrees below zero, the ground was covered with inches of new snow. The car windows were fogged over, and there was no way to tell if anyone was still in the vehicle or not. I continued my tour until the doorbell rang. There stood a young man, shoulders hunched, head pulled into his turned down collar, gloved hands wringing and clutching each other.

"I saw you looking out the window and didn't want to scare you. My brother's on his way to pick me up."

"Come on in. I was more worried about someone freezing to death sitting out there...."

The fellow, very polite and pleasant, came inside and chatted until his ride arrived.

How strange that earlier that morning, another fellow knocked on my door. As I read through the First Place Bible study, the text directed me to Revelation 3:20 which says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me."

It's a verse I've memorized, read many times, even shared with others in presenting the gospel of Jesus. But the question read, "Where is Jesus?" Obviously, He's on the outside of the door--the other side--the side So if Jesus is on one side of the door and I'm on the other, what is between us? The answer came to me like it never had before. Jesus was talking to me, and He was knocking on the other side of my disobedience. My disobedience, my rebellion, even as a believer, keeps Jesus from coming in to fellowship and dine with me. Even then, He was knocking on my door. How many times, in that particular area of my life, have I said, "Just a minute, Jesus," "Could you come back later, please?" "I can't answer the door right now...."

But the reward, the consequence, of opening the door is to share a meal with Jesus! My guess is that He brings the food, the laughter, the open sharing--all I have to do is say yes. Wow, and I would keep my week-old pizza crusts, flat Pepsi, and the desire to have my own way instead! That is a travesty!

I heard the knocking that morning and I'm trying to listen for it throughout the day. Jesus doesn't have to interrupt my life to share it with me--He simply wants to be with me--guiding, directing, providing--every minute.

Today, "Where is Jesus?"

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Voila! A Look Behind the Hankie

Can you remember the last time you were frustrated because someone rejected your idea? Or the last time you thought you were doing a good thing for someone else and they failed to appreciate it? It happens to all of us--some more than others; at some times more than other times.

I was reminded this morning that my response to an interruption is more important than the task itself. What?! you may ask. How can a reaction be more important than the real thing? What does one's response have to do with anything? To answer the question, my response reveals my heart--and it is the heart that matters most.

Our society chose the "Leave it to Beaver," lifestyle as a reaction to two world wars in succession. In an effort to bring healing and normalcy to fighting men and families, a facade of peace was erected in homes and communities across the nation. There was an emphasis on morality and appearance (for more detail, see Radical Womanhood by Carolyn McCulley, p.114). With the church culture came a church appearance. Moral, unselfish behavior was expected. It was the norm. Unfortunately, even with a soft-glove-enforced religion, there was a mask of surrealism.

We have come to believe--especially in the church--that what you see is what you get. We don't want to admit our shortcomings to ourselves or others, so we do our best to keep them hidden--behind the hankie. We pull a rabbit out of our hat--a good work out of a bad situation, a kind word in response to a hurtful one--diverting the eye away from "hat", or heart.

But Jesus said, "...the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. " (Matthew 15:18-19).

So when I interrupt our children who are watching a t.v. program or playing on the computer and their response is an outburst of anger, disputes, dissensions, or factions, I know that their hearts are being ruled by self, not God (Galatians 5:19-20). When I interrupt an activity and they can say, "Okay, Mom," without strife or argument, I know that God is at work in their hearts (Galatians 5:22-23).

The same is true of our service. When my actions or words are unappreciated, unaccepted, or interrupted, my response reveals my heart. If I respond with peace and acceptance, I was not working on my behalf, but the Lord's. The applause of man is secondary to obedience. If, however, my heart responds with ruffled feathers and annoyance, I know that I am more concerned for myself. My heart reveals the working (or absence) of God--regardless of what I "pull out of my hat."

Speaking of interruptions, I have some hungry children chirping for breakfast....

Challenge: As I walk through the day's activities, I want to be more aware of my response to interruptions. Is my reaction God-centered or self-centered?