This Time of Year

When summer break ends and real life starts up again, the same unwanted visitor always drops by my house, asking if he can spend a week or two on my couch.

He never waits for me to answer him.  He just pushes past me, drops his duffel bag, and takes a seat.

He rearranges the pillows to his liking.  He puts his feet on my table.  He picks up my coffee cup and takes a sip.  He settles in as if he intends to stay a lot longer than two weeks.  And sometimes he does.

He’d only be a minor nuisance if all he did was watch TV all day.  But that’s not why he has come.

He takes a look around the room and watches me lose my temper with my children.

“See?” he says, “You’re not a good enough mom to lead other moms in the study of God’s Word.”

I don’t reply.

I think about his words and wonder if they are true.

I move on with my activities.  I play with the girls.  I ignore the girls.  I do some laundry.  I ignore the dust on the furniture.  I make lunch.  I ignore the dishes in the sink.  I put the girls to bed for their naps.

Then I have a choice to make.  Will I spend the next hour with the Lord, or will I lay down for some much needed rest myself?

The fatigue wins.  I spend my alone time resting my body instead of letting God fill my soul.

An hour later I get up, feeling only minimally better than before I had laid down.

I go downstairs, and he is still on my couch.

“See?” he says, “You don’t love God well enough to teach other women about Him.  You don’t even love him more than a fitful hour of partial rest.”

I don’t reply.

I think about his words and wonder if they are true.

The girls wake up.  I give them a snack.  We play.  I consider making dinner.  But I don’t have it in me.  I call my husband and ask him to bring something extraordinarily unhealthy home for us to eat.

By the time he arrives, I am consumed with irritation at my house guest’s criticism.  I hardly acknowledge my husband’s presence and all but ignore my children as I shovel in the fast food.  Then I bathe the girls and count down the minutes until I can put them to bed.  By then I am so exhausted that I crawl into my bed without speaking more than a handful of words to my husband.

“See?” says the man on the couch, “You aren’t a good enough wife or mom to spread the message of Christ’s love.  You’re failing in all of your major relationships.”

I don’t reply.

“You are no better – no different – than anyone else out there,” the man continues.  “You lose your temper.  You choose selfishness over godliness.  You let your circumstances dictate your mood.  Your personal relationship with Christ is lackluster.  Your constant agitation with your children is harmful to them.  Your marriage isn’t as good as it should be.  You don’t love them enough to nourish their bodies with healthy foods or to nourish their souls with kind words.”

I look at the man.  I know he is right.  The Spirit of Condemnation has been right about everything.

There is nothing good in me.  There is nothing extraordinary about me.  There is no reason I should be allowed to teach anyone anything about Jesus Christ.  I’ll never represent Him well enough.  In fact, most of the time, I will represent Him quite poorly.

But there is something the man on my couch isn’t saying.  There is a part of the story he has left out.

He would have me believe that my couch is the only one he ever inhabits.

His duffel bag says otherwise.

The truth is he visits everyone’s couch at one time or another.  And he is right about all of us.  We aren’t worthy to speak the name of Christ.  Our actions prove that daily.

Yet, Christ tells us to do just that.

Mark 16:15 says, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”

Jesus gives this command to his disciples immediately after he “rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen [Christ] after he had risen” Mark 16:14.

This is how these two verses read in the KLT (Kelly Levatino Translation).  “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Hey, your faith sucks.  You absolutely refuse to believe the truth about me.  I am all-knowing and even I can hardly believe how thick-headed you are.  And you are exactly the type of people I want to tell the rest of the world about my love.”

Why?  Why would Jesus choose to use such poor representatives of Him to spread His message?  Surely we won’t make it look very attractive…

And that’s precisely the point.

Jesus doesn’t want people to agree to follow Him because the messenger has the charisma of George Clooney, the good looks of George Clooney, and the social power of George Clooney.  Because those people wouldn’t really be following God; they’d be following George Clooney.

Jesus wants those of us who can barely walk with one foot in front of the other to spread His message so that anyone who chooses to put their faith in Him will most assuredly do so because God attracted them, not us.

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6 thoughts on “This Time of Year

  1. really relate to the imagery of “the same unwanted visitor” analogy – thank you for giving a real visual to the same battles that I have in my own heart and mind. So thankful for the cross & Christ’s desire to take me as I am!

  2. Maybe this is an appropriate place to remind ourselves of what Paul was taught, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9). But does Paul really need to add, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

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