Checkmate

I recently read an ‘old’ verse with new eyes. There is Scripture in Luke where Jesus warns us (people who call themselves followers) to be ready. I was in a mood. I kind of giggled at the thought of being caught off guard—in red handed unreadiness.

I pictured myself surrounded by a mountain of little girl laundry, surfing Instagram on my phone. Suddenly, I hear footsteps trekking up the stairs and sheer panic ensues. I toss the phone under the dresser, out of view and haphazardly bury my lap in clothes—letting out a fake sigh of exhaustion as the feet arrive close enough to hear.

The smirk fades a bit as I realize a couple of truths—one being, if I was elaborately faking work to avoid disappointing my husband, how much more devastating would it be to be busted by God for slacking off? And secondly, I’m not fooling anyone. Not my husband who knows I’m prone to avoid housework and certainly not my maker. You know, the omnipresent one who knows all, sees all. Yeahhhh. No. Not even close.

Which lead me to thinking about how NOT funny at all Jesus meant for the warning to be. And actually processing how tragically, many of us think Jesus more a comedian than a person with any sort of firm authority. I mean, really. Think about it. Jesus says these really harsh things sometimes. I mean some legitimately important and starkly devastating things—and our response is to disregard it wholly, all while figuratively swinging our floppy hand in his direction jeering, “Oh Jesus.. you silly rascal.” Then we break into the children’s chorus of ‘Jesus loves me’ and entirely miss whatever serious, life saving message he was trying to convey.

We picture Jesus as love and light and long hair and as the person who probably invented the peace sign. Oh… also super gladiator that one time, you know—the cross. But even that strength is shrouded in love so can be misconstrued as previously mentioned lightness. Seldom though, do we think of him cutting people with his words. Or in this case, literally using a metaphor involving cutting someone up in pieces.

“The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.” Luke 12:46 NIV (Tune in to Luke 12:35-48 for the whole story.)

No rascal to be found here. Nah. Jesus, you mean business. I shouldn’t have laughed. At all. I’m so thankful that he didn’t allow me to miss the point and that the HS (Holy Spirit) was patient enough to double back with me.

Now without breaking out my trusty commentary, I’m pretty sure this is Jesus eluding to his pre-mid-or post return. The return we pretend— on our more self righteous days or the days of unbearable pain— to long for. Honestly and mostly though, we’re cool with the idea of growing old next to our spouses and dying while holding hands peacefully in a bed together.

The reality is, He really could return before you finish reading this. And I, for one, am petrified of being caught pretending to fold clothes. I don’t really mean house chores here. But what do I mean? What is the work I should be doing if He arrived on scene?

This is where it gets muddy for me. I tend to overthink. Literally. Everything. When God says to “love people”, I’m like BRB. First, I have to figure out my identity. Who am I? What’d you create me to do? Which tool am I in your tool box that would effectively be used to love people the best? What do I need to give up? God, what’s your plan for me? And I continue down this lane of self preparedness; which isn’t bad, per se. The goal is maturity in Christendom and I definitely mean well. Nonetheless, all that jazz of exploration and understanding is kinda like looking for answers on Instagram with piles of clothes to Marie Kondo around me.

I just read about a guy… who read about a guy in Philadelphia. He was a middle school teacher who literally changed hundreds of lives by recruiting young boys off the streets and teaching them to play chess. The cheapened short version of the story is that chess is all about making one good decision after another. He knew that. And by teaching these boys to make good decisions, he radically altered their course.

And isn’t that all we really need to know? Not some grand plan for our life (not that those are bad) or specific work (not that we aren’t called) while we wait. But more so just a willingness and wisdom to make a good decision. And then another. One after that. Another one again. And then just don’t stop doing that. Repeat until the end, or his unexpected return.

So I think what Jesus and the chess guy are trying to get at is that it good decisions are a good idea. And if you aim to be busy with a series of good decisions you’ll most likely 1.) arrive at checkmate, or 2.) get caught being ready on the way.

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