All life long

Leavings everywhere – leftover ham in the fridge, Chex mix scattered about, crumpled red and green wrapping, a gift forgotten, someone’s sunglasses, chairs rearranged – fragments and remnants strewn across the room expressing the family Christmas party ended moments before.

Only earlier everyone tiptoed around the dross with the same summoned decorum they tiptoed around their suppressed feelings toward one another. This family get-together had escaped the sibling rivalry spilling over, the snide remark intended to evoke, the one-upsmanship accompanied by rising decibels and the whispered corner gossip saying, “Did you hear what…?”

Maybe it was the Moravian blessing Uncle John prayed beginning with “Come, Lord Jesus, our guest to be” keeping all those jealousies and rivalries simmering below the surface. Behavior straightens a bit when everybody thinks Jesus is in the room. There’s probably less alcohol poured, too.

At least this Christmas, the family held peace for a time. When the gathering reached the hour to go, everyone departed, each to his own abode. Punctuated only by a sigh, quiet filled the room and the car rides home. Jesus’ presence forgotten and as the quiet faded, the sigh gave way once again to the “Did you hear what…?”

How easy it is to feel God’s presence for a while in prayer, in worship, while civility asks for it and in the high moment that requires Him to come. How simply nature returns us to the very source of our conflict, a demand to be alike and an unwillingness to shoulder the high standard of forgiveness and charity toward each other in the mundane. How easy it is to leave Christmas behind and of a sort, get on with things as they were, to turn away from the eternal for the expedience of the day.

When God imparted this truth to me, the same one making me realize He’s been a part-time-for-my-convenience God, the after-truth greeted me imparting a deep awareness of my inability to earn His favor. This is why belief is a great address but a poor destination. God doesn’t want my inherited attitudes and repeated histories, my Sunday worship fading into Monday forgetfulness, my procrastinating response to His grace. He wants me, all of me, to conform to His likeness every day and every way.

If I am to come near God, and Christmas does bring Him near just as Easter and every life grieved and every baby born in hope, shouldn’t I allow God to accompany me upon my return to normal?

C.S. Lewis quotes an unknown author as writing, “Have we ever risen from our knees in haste for fear God’s will should become too unmistakable if we prayed longer?” My own demise stems from the easy reach for anything tangible. I don’t think I am alone.

“Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father, also” (1 John 2:23, NKJV).

Shouldn’t we acknowledge Him all life long?

“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15).

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