We started early this year with the preparations of the season. For I know my heart and I know our ways are flawed and while family devotions every night is our goal, we know we won’t reach that lofty place. We get that 5 out of 7 is more our reality. As much as we long for perfection, we know it is not ours to have.
Our souls become weary and we slip into me-mode and we forget that in an upside down kingdom things are opposite to everything we naturally want. So we curl up on the couch, the fire roaring behind us and we lose ourselves in its comfort. We tuck a blanket up under our feet and we nestle down so our head rests just slightly on the pillow and we sigh. This is what we need.
Someone grabs that remote and we stay in the spirit of the season by clicking play on a Christmas movie instead of some random sitcom. We taste the pepperminty sticks on our lips and sip the warm drinks and we exhale. This is what we deserve.
At the end of the bustle of our days, the picking up and dropping off of children, the watching of sports games, the feeding of hungry boys looking at me with pleading in their eyes of what’s for dinner. At the end of the laundry and the floors tidied and the little teeth all brushed and the stress of the work day we just need a few minutes. As the sky turns black and the lights from neighbouring houses shine around, glittering up the night, we tell ourselves lies.
I tell myself that I just need a few moments to myself. Me and Instagram. I tell myself that we all just need to unwind and so we flick on the screen. I tell myself that I just need a few seconds of quiet and handing them their iPads will so quickly lull them into a silence that makes me smile.
The biggest threat to our families spiritual well being just now is not persecution. It’s not suffering. It’s not doubts based on heavy circumstances or weighty life challenges. It’s not fear of death for having a copy of the Holy Scripture or lacking time to open it up.
The biggest challenge in our life of following God is our excess.
Our couch. The remote. All the free App’s in the iTunes store. It’s the fire place right there in the living room and the blankets too many to number that keep us all cozy. It’s cupboards filled with too much food and closets with all the warmth we could ever need and sickeningly more.
The biggest challenge for us right now is to follow God when we’re just so comfortable.
We would say with our mouths that we don’t value that comfort above our Lord and Saviour but the nights that we slide onto that couch and we flip through our screens because it’s so much easier than opening up the Word of God is telling, no?
Having the couch we always wanted to have could be our biggest downfall. The couch that woos us to come. The couch that nestles us in and says, don’t get up. The couch that tell us not to work anymore. No more hard for today. You’ve done enough.
Could the temptation of Satan in our lives come in the form of a sofa? Could it come in the form of a handheld device vying for our time and us, repeatedly, giving it more attention than the one who tells us He died because He loves us? I contend it could.
The angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her that she had found favour with God. We don’t know why, at this point. We don’t know the particulars of her life, how she spent her days or the mode of her very heart. But we get to see a bit of her character in her response after being told she will bear a child who will be called Son of the Most High.
Her words are beautiful and offer us a glimpse into her heart, into her very soul.
I am a servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word. (Luke 1:38)
In other words, Yes.
Yes, Lord, I will.
Yes, Lord, whatever you have planned.
Yes, Lord, may it be as you say.
Yes, Lord, this is not going to be easy and I will have to suffer the looks of those who don’t believe and I will have to endure the stares of the scoffers and I will have to let them talk of me and say that I’m a liar and I must be sexually promiscuous and have been unfaithful to my betrothed.
Yes, Lord, I will give up my body and the comforts of it being my own for You.
Yes, Lord, I will bring forth this baby with the great pains of child birth because it’s what you’ve asked.
Yes, Lord, I will raise this child up in the fear and discipline of You.
Yes, Lord, I will watch as You take Him away from me, this child that you gave, and be there as he suffers a most heinous death.
Yes, Lord. Yes.
Because it’s not comfort I seek or unwinding that I crave or the indulgences of this world that I need. It’s you.
It’s not accolades from my townspeople that I want or the kingdom that you’d think would come from raising a King that I desire or the promise of an easy life because I’ve agreed to take on this task that you should give.
It’s what you’ve asked and so I will.
It’s never easy, what God calls us to. It doesn’t ever promise that, rather sacrifice. It rarely allows for comfort. It doesn’t mean exaltation from those looking in. It doesn’t mean a couch and a roaring fire and blankets and netflix.
It means selflessness and servanthood. It means others might think we’re weird. It takes effort and work and toil and sweat and sometimes even blood. It means dying to all of the things our culture tells us we need and instead praying for our enemies and those who curse. It means if we have two we give one away.
Oh, that I might have the heart and character of Mary.
I don’t, with my iPhone and my sofa. But I want to. I want to be able to say like she did, no matter what I’m called to, I am the servant of the Lord.