Friday, November 16, 2012

A Seat at the Table

It's pretty much an unspoken understanding that around the holidays, a few things happen; the sentimental edge of people comes out, there's a desire to give lavishly to the ones we love, we may attend a church service, send Christmas cards and both consciously and unconsciously remember those that are no longer here to celebrate the holidays with us.

For some, the holidays are now just another reminder that someone won't be at the dinner table. For others, it might be the time when new traditions are grafted in to celebrate and remember the life of their loved one.  To some, there will be a bunch of 'firsts'.  Their 'first' birthday without them, the 'first' Thanksgiving without them.  The 'first' snow fall without them.  And perhaps the hardest of them all, the 'first' Christmas without them.  The meaning of Christmas might even temporarily change altogether.  Instead of celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world, it's now just a reminder that there's an empty place in your heart and an extra seat at dinnertime.

As we head into this holiday season, I can only hope we don't make a B-line through them to February just to numb our real emotions and barely 'survive' Christmas.  Would we then be doing our lost loved ones a disservice by stunting our lives and stopping our regular traditions in their absence?  I think yes.  I also think we tend to forget that life never really ends, only life on earth does.  And even though there's now that empty seat in your kitchen at the table, they've only gone to sit at the table with the King.

An empty seat was filled in Heaven even though one remains empty at our table.  I'm not naive to the reality of my grief.  It still sucks.  Really bad.  It still hurts.  Super hard.  I miss her here.  And Christmas will vastly approach, I just hope it won't vastly roar through.  I want to feel Christmas this year.  I want to remember the hope that it brings.  And I'll endeavor to never forget the reason we celebrate Christmas at all; because of His great love for us, He emptied a seat at His table.      

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Suitable Sacrifice?

There are a few non-negotiables I've come to realize; 1.) I'm very human  2.) I'm very needy  3.) I'm severely imperfect  4.) I'm not satisfied with where I am.

Given those few 4 things, I then begin to wonder, " I a suitable sacrifice for You?"
That implies one very key conclusion (and problem, I might add). It implies I'm not good enough for God to use, when, in all actuality, He doesn't even need to use me.  But He chooses to.  Not because someone is twisting His arm until He says "uncle!" and finally gives in.  But because there's a depth to Him like no other human could ever obtain.  Though, we do strive for it.  It's unattainable.  Why?  There are just some things that God can only be and we can never be.  Because then we would be God.  And we don't need little Gods running around. 

That depth to Him that we could never obtain, but only have a glimpse of, is the very bottom of His heart.  I'm convinced God has feelings.  And I'm also convinced those feelings are the deepest for people.  Why?  I think He longs so much for His people to know the truth that can make them free.  Why?  What good Dad wouldn't want that for His kids?  In the inner most depth of His heart is a love that cannot ever be described in words.  I think it could only ever be felt.  I could try to describe it, candy coat it, flower it up, assign fancy, well-thought out words to it that even I would need to google.  But then you get so far from the nucleus of His heart that it becomes watered down. 

At the very deepest depth of His heart, is me. Is you. My neighbors.  Your neighbors.  Your lesbian cousin.  Your homeless, estranged uncle.  Our president.  Us.  At the very deepest depth of His us.  And you can't tell me there is anyone alive or once alive that has a heart that even has a centimeter of similarity. 

So I go back to my 4 non-negotiables. And I ask myself, "Self, is God big enough to handle those things I just won't budge on?"  The Sunday school answer is yes!  Since I'm clearly too old for Sunday school, my answer is..."well, ummm, I'm not really sure..."  Which strips down the very last layer of my defenses to my own messed up heart which has believed this lie for so long; "Is God enough? Because if He's not, then I have to do something."  And when we get right down to it, the only person that could ever answer this question is me. And let's be honest, self, if I have to ask that question to myself and I have even a moments hesitation, I've already decided that I have to be the hero.  I have to save myself from the burning building. 

Now when I ask, "God am I a suitable sacrifice?"  I gotta believe that I wasn't ever His intended sacrifice to begin with!  Jesus was.  And He was the suitable sacrifice.  Without stain, blemish, spot or sin.  He was the chosen, suitable sacrifice from before God commanded light to flood every corner of the earth.  And without that Suitable Sacrifice allowed to have a spot in my life, my ENTIRE life, I'd be the one sitting here taking all the credit for what has always been His.  He's everything.  The Hero.  The Sacrifice.  The Beginning. The Middle. The End.