(full read at dawnlizjones.wordpress.com)
I am quickly becoming of the opinion that there is no better way to celebrate than to have friends over into the garden. So far, I have had a small family reunion dinner, my oldest daughter’s “Skype” bridal shower (she was in California and one sister was home in Missouri, and the other sister was in New York City—hurray for technology!), a private evening bistro with my husband and his poetry, and a bluegrass birthday party. One day, I thought I would ask a few girlfriends to come over for an “open air” breakfast in the late morning. Two of these ladies are quite accomplished and creative gardeners, and my spot of earth was far behind what they have mastered. In fact, there was still dirt laying around in various spots from fixing some of the stones in my yard. But is a garden ever truly completed? I tend to think that, since it is made of living things, then a garden must be viewed itself as a living organism, ever changing, ever challenging, fluid as opposed to finished. It would be a shame to put off entertaining until I had enough…enough what? Enough flowers, enough bird feeders and butterfly attractions? And what for? To impress them? Not on my budget or expertise!
I wonder how often we fall into the same restrictive and lock-step way of thinking in other areas of life:
- Can’t have the boss (or pastor, or in-laws, or fill in the blank) over until the house is big enough.
- Can’t have children until we can pay to put them through college.
- Can’t take a vacation from my job until the next deal is closed.
- Can’t give money to my church until I get a raise.
- Can’t play with the kids until the dishes are done. (Oh, I beg of you not to make that mistake!)
- And here’s the really big one: can’t tell someone about Jesus until I get my own spirituality together.
Our can’ts are camouflaged as responsibility, when in reality they may be precariously postponing what is really important for what is merely urgent (at best), or selfish (at worst). Please don’t get me wrong; boundaries—whether they be relational, emotional, financial, to name a few—are important, but so is our choice of who (or Who) is Master of the garden gate. I need to remember the story of Mary and Martha, two of Jesus’ good friends. Martha was concerned with preparing to entertain Jesus, and Mary with actually entertaining Him by sitting attentively at His feet. Who was being most productive? Would Martha’s house ever be “good” enough to entertain the Son of God? And yet, when the opportunity was presented, she was in danger of missing out on the best house guest ever! Obviously, Jesus did not expect perfection (by cultural expectations) before making Himself gloriously and generously at home.
- I would hope that the people with whom I associate will choose to identify me by my character, rather than by the square footage of my property. Let me honor God with the property of which I am His steward, and leave others’ opinions up to Him.
- Certainly we have financial obligations to our people, but care must be taken to not overburden ourselves with future concerns over which we have little or no control.
- Someone who is married to his job can find his marriage to his spouse dissolve without him being aware of it until it is too late. A vacation doesn’t have to be a long expensive undertaking, but a regularly planned evening away—ALONE—can bring health and vitality into not only a relationship, but also into the job as well. And a caution to stay-at-homes: this means you, too! Check the chatter about the kids with your coat at the restaurant and focus on some exclusivity with your one and only.
- We somehow feel that giving money to God is a chore, like getting our teeth pulled. We have to psych ourselves up for giving what we think we can’t afford, or for beating back the guilt feelings when we don’t. An Olympic diver doesn’t start learning his craft by jumping off the high dive. Start small. It’s okay to ask God to increase our salary, but I should ask Him to increase my giving first.
- Yes, dishes need to be done, and we are not to use any excuse for a slovenly lifestyle, but that whole “cleanliness is next to godliness” is not in the Word of God. Our children are a gift from the Lord, more than our dishes. They need us to let them know that in very tangible ways, and the most important is giving them of our time.
- And, of course, the perfection of our lives is not the witness that Jesus is looking for. It is the consistency of love, and constancy of attendance on Him, of sincere repentance with corresponding behavioral decisions. It is His perfection of character that engulfs the flaws of mine. Good grief! How can I adequately bear witness and represent a Holy God!? To feel any remnant of adequacy to this task is the epitome of pride and hubris. No, I must not wait until I esteem myself a “better person”, and wholly rely on His Holy Spirit’s adequacy within me.
What opportunities are presented to us today? I want to be extremely careful to not allow them to pass by because of short-sighted nonsensical statements that include “can’t…until.” On the contrary, I want to challenge myself to evaluate every self-imposed restriction that would threaten to put off what would bless someone—
—and many times that someone turns out to be me!