Read His Words Before Ours!
I sat alone with arms crossed. The cavernous room was dark, lit only by a couple of lights and the glimmer of track lighting, which led down each of the long aisles.
Silence reigned, save the quiet rhythm of my own breathing.
Dark, velvety curtains framed the blank space before me, creating an illusion of grandeur in the small town high school auditorium. My eyes remained trained on the empty stage and my thoughts ebbed and flowed, swirling and churning like many currents in the same river. The somber, empty platform resonated deeply within me.
It reflected how I felt inside, despite all the stuff on my stage.
Dark. Empty. Forgotten. Forsaken.
My space was full, yet surprisingly meaningless.
Regrets flitted through my mind. I winced as each misstep and mistake took center stage in my thoughts, playing out for what seemed the thousandth time. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. I had made it my practice to stay busy so I wouldn’t have time to reflect on those things, but my latest commitment had ended and I was faced with my shame and regret. Again.
I wish I could tell you that a realization struck me that afternoon; that I recognized my regrets were taking God’s place in my heart and filling me with feelings of self-loathing and depression. I wish I could tell you that I left that theatre with renewed hope and a decision to keep Jesus before me always, but I didn’t.
Many years would pass before my heart would soften enough to hear and heed His gentle correction. Even now that I am actively listening for His direction in my life, I battle my urge to say “yes” to every possible commitment that comes my way on a daily basis. And I do not always win. My motivation may be different now, but that doesn’t excuse my sin.
Sometimes the commitments, the stuff, the relationships, and all the “other” unintentionally pushes Jesus to the side.
The space that should be reserved for Him is instead filled with us.
Our desire for knowledge.
Our longing to succeed.
Our eagerness to please.
Our deep-seated need for love and acceptance.
Sometimes the things idols that dance on center stage are seemingly benign and difficult to pinpoint. Sometimes they are a mind (and heart) set of legalism. Sometimes they are our family. A relationship. Social media. Our home.
Want to identify your idols?
What will you refuse to live without?
What occupies the space of your thoughts, your motivations, your time, your resources?
As a teenager, I used a busy schedule and many commitments to keep me from facing my failures and my God. I ran as fast and as hard as possible, pausing only when forced to do so. I put anything I could find on center stage, eager for an escape from reality. As an adult, I seek to follow God, but sometimes idols still catch me by surprise as I say “yes” where God says “no” or “not now.”
What is in your space?
What do you find yourself dwelling on when the last bits of the day are drifting away?
Does the Messiah who came to have all of you, hold your whole heart, soul, and attention? Or are there spaces that you section off with thick, theatre curtains, refusing Him admittance, because you’ve got this one.
Long ago, Mary and Joseph were faced with the same reality Jesus faces in us on a daily basis: No room.
The absence of space for the Messiah, left Mary to deliver her brand new baby – a King, no less – in humble, dirty surroundings.
Our failure to create and reserve space for that same King leaves us feeling empty and devoid of purpose. Dirty.
As we enter into this holiday season of reflection and rejoicing, may each of us pause
to consider the condition of the “stage” in our hearts, minds, and actions.
Does the Savior have space to breathe and expand His presence in our lives?
Or are we holding tightly to our schedules and commitments,
reluctant to relinquish our illusion of control to the One who already holds it all?
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