Being Held Accountable

Accountability. It’s such an ugly word, I think. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty responsible, trustworthy, and reliable person…when I want or need to be. However, I’m also non-committal and indecisive. Therefore, I am not usually the first person to volunteer, but if I say I will do something, then I will follow-through because I’ve made that commitment. If I haven’t committed to something, don’t look for me to do it. I’m also pretty lazy at times; and very insecure. Why am I telling you all of this? (Besides the fact that I frequently overshare?) Because I honestly feel like if I can commit to something, sacrifice my time or money or effort, then others should be able to as well. I don’t mean that I think everyone should do what I do; what I mean is I believe everyone should be doing something

I’ve really been struggling with this lately. I’m not trying to be or sound self-righteous; again—I don’t think I’m all that special—but I just don’t understand how if I can find the time, money, inconvenience to [fill in the blank], then why does it seem like no one else can? I realize we all lead very different, yet similarly, very busy lives. And I realize I don’t know what goes on in most people’s lives, but everyone has something to offer to someone else. It just seems like no one wants to be bothered with helping

I wonder if we even realize that to be Christians is to be Christ-like. Can you name a time in the Bible when Jesus was selfish? Everything He did (from teaching and feeding thousands on a beach, to His death) was for the sake of someone other than Himself. Jesus is the epitome of selflessness. He is Who we strive to be like… yet we can’t do one simple thing for others most of the time. Nobody wants to be held accountable for anyone else other than themselves (and in case you haven’t noticed in this world, most people won’t even take accountability for their own actions anymore either).

Why do we struggle with not only volunteering ourselves, but also holding others accountable for their own stewardship? Is it because we assume that if we don’t give much, we shouldn’t expect others to as well? OR, we don’t expect others to give much so we don’t have to either? Do you realize that even if we’re not holding ourselves, or others accountable doesn’t mean that God is letting each of us off the hook also? (Matthew 25:19, Luke 12:48, Romans 3:19) And can you imagine how angry, frustrated, tired, hurt…He must feel when we consistently don’t ‘show up’? (We don’t show up for Sunday School, skip out on a service or two (or more), we don’t volunteer at our church, we don’t write a check out weekly/monthly, we don’t worship with emotion, we aren’t on our knees praying, we don’t open our Bibles… [I could go on, and on]…

If you feel like you’re not getting enough from God (enough time to volunteer, enough money to tithe, enough effort to care…), it’s because you’re not giving enough to Him. God will give you all that you need when you give Him all that He wants. (Matthew 19:26, Luke 1:37, Philippians 4:13, 2 Peter 1:3). Faith without works is dead. (James 2:14-26) [Take this pause to read that passage in its entirety] God will not move for you, until you commit to move for Him. (Matthew 13:58, Philippians 2:13) Why do we think He should feel so privileged that we are Christians, that we don’t owe Him anything other than us taking [destroying] His Name?

Take a moment before you move on from this reading, and ask our Lord and Savior, what you can do for Him, considering all that He’s done for you… Because regardless of what you think, you do owe Him a whole lot more than you’re giving Him. Period.

Table Time

I am in the end stages of a kitchen remodel. It’s been 12 weeks. Twelve.Weeks… of a less-than full functioning kitchen. (My lack of culinary skills make this a little more endurable than it should be). I’ve been without countertops for 7 weeks. Thanks to a snafu by the local home improvement store, our order was on hold. Unbeknownst to us, we kept our kitchen empty ‘assuming’ things were moving right along. When we finally realized the glitch, (after I (semi) calmed down) I insisted we put as much of the kitchen back together—including setting our table back up. This may not seem like a big deal to many. But up until this point, I’d been standing at our makeshift counters to eat. I hate to stand and eat. I desperately missed sitting for my meals. When I realized we’d be waiting another 4 weeks, I wanted my table back; my kitchen back; my life back…

You see, I have a desperate need to sit with my husband over our meals. It seems to be the only real time we get together guaranteed. And, growing up, that was the only time my family really spent any time together as a whole. At dinner, we all sat down to share—a meal, a conversation, and more often than not—a laugh. I was (I assume) a ‘typical’ teenager. I didn’t want to be with my parents or my much younger siblings too much. I wanted to be on my own. However, our meals were different. I enjoyed the ‘forced’ time to gather as one. I (secretly) enjoyed the inquisition of my day (school, friends, etc.), though you’d never know by the one-word answers, and more often than not grumbles (apologies to my parents) or eye rolls. My sisters (12+ years younger than I) rattled incessantly to avoid eating. The ‘older’ one always fell out of her chair (I kid you not—every night), and the ‘baby’ always had to go ‘potty’ in the middle of the meal; and I looked forward to the ridiculous, yet habitual moments. I always swore that my family would do the same…

Why am I telling you all of this (besides wanting to gripe a little longer that my remodel is still not done)? Because I think ‘table time’ is important. I think time with family at least once a day to talk, really talk—converse, share, laugh—should be a priority in our lives… I took it for granted, until it wasn’t available. And I don’t just mean during my remodel…

Growing up all I ever knew I wanted, was a family. I often talked about ‘when I have kids’…and I wanted a large family (at least five kids, (three boys, two girls)…). And one of the things I knew I wanted to do in raising my kids was insist on ‘table time’. I wanted to make sure there was a guaranteed time we all could count on to be together—for encouragement, for venting, for love—but that’s not how my life turned out. I don’t have any kids, let alone the more than typical table full. I have my husband (and our dog—but despite his insistence—he is not welcome at the table). And most days, I’ve come to terms with that. But I realized during our remodel that I missed and mourned my ‘table time’; and all that it could’ve been. (Bear with me, I’m not trying to gain sympathy—there’s a point to this). Over the years, while I’ve enjoyed the quality time with my husband over dinner, I’ve felt an emptiness at my table. But here’s where I’m at with it (I told you there was a point to this): my table may not be as full as I’d hoped, but it’s not as empty as I think. You see, seated at my table, as He always has been, and always will be, is Jesus. He loves our ‘table time’ and ‘table talk’. When I finally was able to sit at my table to eat last week, I realized that my standing to eat habit had not only killed the ‘table time’ but also the ‘table talk’—the prayer. My meal prayer is always about more than my meal (quite often adding a ‘blessing’ to my food is after the ‘Amen’). It’s about my gratitude for the life I have; the many blessings that I always wanted, and some I never knew I needed. I fully encompass all of His provisions; and His exclusions. And yet, I somehow neglect(ed) to encompass the (lack of) emptiness of my table. I’m not sitting with just my husband at my table. I’m sitting with Jesus. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Isaiah 41:10, Matthew 28:20, 2 Timothy 4:17)

He meets me at my table for ‘table time’ daily; and one day soon, I will meet Him at His table. (Luke 22:30)

What are you hanging on to?

I walked in to my 8 year old's room and I could swear I had missed an emergency alert.  I must have since only a hurricane or a tornado could possibly explain the state of her room!  She had been in it most of the day playing with a neighborhood friend.  The friend had recently gone home dinner and I had gone back to announce that our own food was finished.

If you have ever seen the movie Labyrinth then I am sure you recollect the scene in which the garbage lady attempts to entice Sarah to stop her quest and stay in her room with all of her most "loved" possessions.  Got it?  Now picture the room when her friends break down the wall to save her and all the junk came tumbling in.....yep.  That is what I walked into.

She can't throw anything away.  And I mean anything.  For her it all holds some value and/or reminds her of something of value.  The idea of parting with it literally brings her to tears.  And yes, I DO know how unhealthy that is and we are working on it.  Stick with me though, I have a point and it is...

We all have things we need to let go of

Hear me out here.  You may not be hanging on to literal, physical things. (Although I bet a few of you are.)  You may be hanging on to a painful experience that has skewed your view of those around you.  You may be hanging on to childishness because it is easier to allow others to do the hard things, physically and spiritually.  You could be hanging on to your idea of how this life was supposed to be, or what being a Christain was supposed to be.  Or you could be hangng on to something else.

My point is, our enemy is much like that junk lady in Labyrinth.  If he can get us to focus on the things rather than on God, we don't realize that we have missed our calling and are instead wallowing in a dump.  

God never intended for us to live in a dump.  He has a plan for each of us.  Some, like Sarah, are on a mission to rescue others.  Some are like Ludo, who's purpose is to stand with and love those around us.  Perhaps you are more like Sir Didymus and his trusty steed/dog Ambrosia and you are the defender of those around you.  Or maybe you are Hoggle, and your purpose is to see yourself differently and to step out of your comfort zone.  Or maybe your purpose in life is to be the mission of someone else so that they may grow.  I don't know what your mission is, but I do know that it isn't to stay locked in a room only concerned with YOUR THINGS.

Remember the rich young ruler?  I wonder if he had worked hard for all that he had or if it had all come easy?  Either way, Jesus told him that despite all the things he did, his heart was still focused on his things rather than the will of God.  

So I leave you with a question as I leave the keyboard to assist my 8 year old with reevaluating what is most important.  What things are holding you back from what God has for you?  Take some time to pray about it and really let Him show you.  
Once He has, start purging.  I promise you will feel better once you lighten your load and continue your journey towards God.