When I Let the Rodents In, He Leaves

Jesus called me to a walk today. I rose up and moved with Him, until we came to a place I know so well. He showed me the playground of my heart, and asked me what were these idols He found there.

Welcomed in to fill the gaps His presence seemed to leave, my hope to make sure all was right — that I did not suffer from the holes of emptiness that He seemed intent on leaving bare.

Fearing that if I were not careful, I might fall into one, I went ahead and pledged them to worthy tenants. I asked only that they stay and keep my grounds level, never leaving, never forsaking the duty I had given to them.

These rodents were my support, their presence made me feel at ease — with them there I could relax. Yet, with them always near, I became always busy. They did more to hold my attention than serve the purpose so important to me.

But, so engaged had I become with their winsome personalities that I forgot; I did not hold their ways against them, but rejoiced that I had found friends to fill my hours here, allies who sought me out, and were never far off.

I counted each one as an individual that enriched my life, a mini-savior of my cause. That cause was loneliness, and how they gladly took it up! They hoisted my banner, and encouraged me to hold mine even higher. They did not fill my holes, but they promised with their help they would disappear. I would not be a cast-out, I would not live with less, I deserved more out of life — I would have it all.

That’s what my pride and self-pitying said. It accepted the voice I lent it, and gladly drowned out the whispers from behind that spoke the truth I could not accept. I would not be contradicted, every challenge I would win, even if it meant an unconcerned good-bye to my first and only real Playmate.

If He did not like the atmosphere, then He could leave. There was plenty of fun to be had without Him — the rest of us would make sure of that.

The funny thing, which actually took me a while to notice, was that when my First-Mate left, He took part of me with Him. At first I thought this would still be all right; after all, I had my rodo-pals in tow.

But, then even that began to change. They didn’t seem so happy or concerned with me as they once were. In fact, one particularly quiet morning I discovered them in the most treasonous act imaginable: Not only were they disregarding the holes that bothered me so much, they were making new ones.

I had never noticed their teeth were so violent, not their imaginations so devious. What would I do with them?

I thought to protest and gain their apologies, but they worked on. Again, I tried to command their attention, and give them a firm talking-to, but their ears were too consumed with the sound of their own chewing, to mind anything that I might say. As a last resort, I ran up and kicked one of them, which turned out to be too big to mind the irritation. Moving to the next, I gave him two assaults for good measure, and the sharp-toothed sneer he sent back frightened me so, I screamed and scampered off as quickly as I could through the growing maze of bodies which I now recognized as sickeningly repulsive.

Alone, and now afraid, the truth seemed so ostentation when it sneaked up on me. Interrupting my reverie as I sat hugging my knees and wishing I could somehow return to what I once imagined too dull and unsatisfying, he cowed me:

“What were you thinking? How could you be so blind: missing the teeth, the indifference to your wishes, the sheer number of these little monsters — all these evidences of imminent danger and vicious conquest you would so insolently ignore? Was it worth it? Huh?”

I hated the voice, but I could not run from it — everything he asked begged answers of my shameful actions, and silenced my now remorseful voice.

What was I to do, where could I go?

And as if in answer, I heard His footsteps — the ones that pounded after me in a game of chase, and marched beside me in a walk about the park — I recognized the weight and tempo of a stride that now made me uneasy rather than unafraid. Once having Him at my side had given me confidence, now it put me on edge.

What would He have to say to me — the truth I expected to hear, but then what? What would He demand, what could I expect?

Then His sudden stillness made me voluntarily lift my head — though it seemed later, as if He had been the One to raise my chin. I saw Him before me with outstretched arms that silently called a name I thought He had long ago abandoned. Home was closer than I thought.

With my permission He spanked the rat pack, and reclaimed His territory — the place where I am safe enough to play, with holes that didn’t go so deep as they once had. And He tells me that with time, He will fill them more, as I content myself with the knowledge that He is tending them. In the meantime He teaches me to play amidst them, since He holds onto me in everything we do — whether I should fly in the air above Him, or fall in the ground beneath Him.

So, peace reigns in my playground again — my Mate and I are close once more, yes, closer than we were.

To Be Godly Do I Work to Stand Out Or Try to Lift Up the Ones Who Are Sitting?

What is godliness? We talk about it a lot in Christian circles, but how is it really defined? Is it an inborn tendency to keep oneself unsoiled by the ways of the world, or is it a quality of the spirit for which we must work?

To be godly, is it important to avoid what fouls-up the external image we project as believers, or are we to be looking for experiences and insights that affect what Christ knows of our internal nature?

Should we seek to put more distance between ourselves and the world or dig deeply into how worldliness is already integrated into the fabric of our hearts before we even consider the people we hang-out with, and the influences we choose to subject ourselves to. Do we have the liberty of passing the blame to what runs to us, rather than what runs in us? Is our ultimate aim to know what is in us, or to make what others see of us the most acceptable and praiseworthy? Do we want to really boast that we must be made new inĀ  Christ or would we be content with I must appear more put-together and holy myself?

Can I justify shoving away people whose choices I disapprove of, or in a way do I draw closer to investigate why I think I am so much better than they?

Could contact with the world — this place we are supposed to be not of, yet still firmly in for the sake of the people who fill it — be the very thing God means to prick our heart and make us acknowledge our humanness still remains even with all we’re doing for Him?

I don’t like the idea of this myself. I think it would be so much finer if I could stick with measuring myself and the people around me by my own customized standards of spiritual worth and excellence — what really makes me look good. I could begin with me and never need to get around to others, or Christ for that matter. I could be the star, and others could just long to be like me — at least the ones who seemed to be looking up enough. I could be always confident that no one else could hold a candle to my discipleship. My value could remain in believing that I am Jesus’ only prized sheep.

Yet, that same Jesus asks me what I have to gain in this, because it is certainly so much less than Him. You see, I am realizing that I have to go out of my way to reject Christ’s righteousness for me to stand instead on a flighty idea of reward belonging to my own stellar performances.

Besides missing what He has for me, I miss what He has for others — I miss grace. I miss what is supposed to be shared by Christians for the sake of Christ’s glory, not ours. I miss the whole point, because I forget that I am not the point.

But, if I will get close enough, others will make that error abundantly clear. For, I’m finding that God uses people to function as reflective pools of who we truly are. I can walk around all day thinking I’m “the bomb”, yet, by openly interacting with another, I can be corrected instantly.

This is the power of God in positioning us to see ourselves for who we truly are. This is God cultivating God-liness in the unmistakably god-less. This is the Holy Spirit fulfilling in us God’s unshakable desire for us: a God-central, God-dependent life. A life in which we do not look good, but this for the sake of Christ appearing relevant. We lay off the wraps of image and prestige — and the striving for these things — to take hold of grace that unquestionably must point out it’s necessity in our failures in order to be a compelling witness to the watching world.