Wednesday, January 11, 2012
And, we’re off!
I am going to blink, and January is going to be a distant memory! It really is true what they say: the older you get, the faster the time seems to go.
This holiday season was, without a doubt, the shortest one I have ever had. It was like “stealth Christmas”. It crept up on me! I was as if I jumped on a runaway train in November and took a wild, wild ride. As soon as it started, it was over. Poof! January.
I was NOT prepared for Christmas this year. Not at all.
That’s why I’ve already marked my 2012 calendar: July 1-- Start Christmas shopping. You will think it is too early. (It’s not.)
There’s a 50/50 chance I’ll take my own advice. Ok, maybe that’s being optimistic. I’m pretty type-A, but those who know me best know I’m not married to my day planner. I’m not sure I have always been that way. Something flipped in my brain when I became a stay-at-home mom. That job required flexibility, and for a season, planning didn’t do me a lick of good! After a while, I decided I actually liked not doing everything by a calendar and a clock.
To this day, even though my kids are bigger, everything in me resists putting stuff on a calendar. I like following the Spirit when I wake up and letting Him take me though the day. But, alas, I must temper that with real-world practicality. Some things simply require planning.
Like Christmas…and my friend Shelly’s annual holiday cookie decorating party.
Recognizing the busy nature of the season, Shelly delivered her party invitations this year during the first week of November. Now, that’s determination! I accepted her invitation joyfully…in the back of my mind thinking “that’s really far away” and “we haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet”. True to form, I stuck it on my fridge and mentally filed it in the “I’ll deal with that later” category.
I’ve heard it said: Fail to plan. Plan to fail. And, that is exactly what transpired.
A few days before the party, I re-read the invitation. “Bring cookies and decorating supplies.” With growing frustration, I wondered to myself, “How am I supposed to find the time to make cookie dough and bake cookies this weekend?” In a stroke of genius, I remembered the ancient sugar cookie dough in my freezer. It had been given to Mary Claire as a birthday present in August, and we had never gotten around to making the cookies. (Yet another procrastination.) That dough would do just fine. I would just need to let it thaw the night before.
On the morning of Shelly’s party, I awoke and re-read the invitation to double-check the start time. 10 a.m. (Note that it is usually better to check the start time of a party sooner than the day of…especially when it begins in the morning.) Thinking I had just enough time to bake off those cookies and run the kids through the bathtub, I shuffled to my kitchen, eyes still half-open. Stumbling to the fridge, I reached in to pull out the dough. It was still hard as a rock. Unfortunately, my heart followed suit!
I lost it. I was so tired. It was mid-December. The kids were already out of school for the holidays. My house was dirty. I was way behind on my Christmas shopping. And, I was not prepared for this party! I found myself getting really agitated.
Shamefully, the object of my agitation was actually Shelly! I am NOT proud to admit it, but I huffed around the house all morning yelling at my kids to get ready faster so that we could go to the store to purchase cookies and not be late to a party I was increasingly bitter about attending. Inside, I was mad at my friend for hosting a party that was requiring me to do all of this. Isn’t that ridiculous? I was taking out my frustration over all of MY lack of planning on my friend. What did she do wrong? Plan a party and invite me to come? How dare she?! Come on, Sarah--get a grip!
Once I arrived at the party (at least an hour late), I finally calmed down…and admitted to Shelly (though probably not in this detail) what a stinky attitude I was having that morning. And, unfortunately for Shelly, I wasn’t the only one. There were others who either were late or did not show up at all. (Apparently, not only has the RSVP gone the way of the dinosaur, but also keeping your word and arriving on time.) How rude of us all! It wasn’t Shelly’s fault. She planned the party in November, for goodness sake! We accepted her invitation. Shelly wasn’t to blame for her guests being overcommitted, overstressed—and failing to plan ahead.
I felt so guilty. And so sad for my friend. She was visibly deflated. I am lucky that she is a “friend of the heart”—one that you can royally mess up in front of and she won’t drop you like a hot potato. Needless to say, I left her home that day feeling really humbled. And, rightly so. I should have been prepared.
Thankfully, God is always faithful to use my weaknesses to teach me. And, in the car on the way home, He directed me to the bigger picture. He spoke softly to my heart about the party He is planning. About the many who will reject His invitation. About the many who will feel woefully unprepared for the festivities on that Day.
Like Shelly, God sent His invitations well in advance. Invitations to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. Haven’t you heard about it? It’s going to be the party of the ages! A lot of work has gone into preparing for this shin-dig! And everyone is invited! Have you RSVP’d? Are you coming?
Because, on the day of the party, if you are not ready to attend, you won’t be able to blame God for your lack of preparation. That would be as ridiculous as me blaming Shelly for my not showing up to her party, even though I never answered her invitation or got in my car to drive to her house.
God is the host, but you still have to get ready to come. He has graciously incurred all of the costs. It is free to you. In fact, He is doing all of the work to get you there. But, you have to let Him know you want to come.
If you are planning to attend, have you stuck the invitation on the fridge? Did you make a mental note that it is “really far away” and you’ll “deal with it later”? If so, when party day arrives, will you feel underdressed and unprepared?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Jesus to come for me and find me stressed out, overcommitted, sleepy-eyed, and in my pajamas! I don’t want to be surprised to see Him. I want to anticipate His coming--and prepare.
I’m not suggesting we do as the Mayans do, but maybe this event is one this “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” girl needs to put on her calendar. We may not be able to predict the day and time, but Jesus told us that we would see signs that His coming is near. And, those signs are all around us. Maybe it is time to start getting dressed.