Several years ago, while busying myself with other things, I listened to a sitcom that I’d never seen before (and haven't watched since). It featured the dysfunctional family typically found on television these days, with one exception: this family attended church. The mother has been a part of the church choir for seventeen years, and for seventeen years she took a back seat as "the chosen one" sang the lead at the Christmas Eve service. This year "the chosen one" was unable to perform, giving the mother a chance at the part she’s always wanted. The dilemma was she couldn’t put the extra time into choir practice when there were so many preparations to be made for Christmas.
Enter TV's typical, inept father. Not working for the holidays, he offered to take care of ALL the Christmas preparations so his wife could focus on her singing. Of course, every time he completed a task, his wife would say, “I can’t believe you did that without me! That was my favorite part!” Each of these statements was then followed by a flashback of her begrudgingly doing the task and complaining about her family’s lack of participation.
Oh, how our minds like to improve on the past! I wonder if that’s how the mind of Lot’s wife worked. She was told to leave Sodom and begrudgingly did, but she “looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” (Genesis 19:26) Rather than focusing on the blessings of that moment, she looked back to mourn what she had left behind. I’m sure her memories, too, were far better than the reality they represented.
How about you? Are you nurturing idealized memories that cannot possibly be lived up to?
The show concluded at the Christmas Eve service, the choir dressed in their robes, standing in the front of the church. Breaking the serenity of the scene was the mother shooing people out of the front row seats that she was saving for her family. Meanwhile, the father had just awakened after dozing in front of the TV and was frantically trying to get the family into the car so they could get to church. They arrived just as the mother was starting her solo. She was singing the words to the Christmas hymn while simultaneously shooting daggers at her disheveled family as they attempted to sneak into the back row.
Again, the blessings of that moment they were lost because her focus was elsewhere. This mother had waited seventeen years for this solo, and yet she did not enjoy it because she was instead focused on what wasn’t going her way. How often do we do that? We physically go through the motions while our heart is elsewhere.
Do you look for the blessings in the moment, ever present even if not immediately recognizable? Or are your expectations far greater than reality could ever be?
"And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?" (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)
God doesn't want us just going through the motions, He wants us to love and serve Him with all our heart. Remember, God is far more concerned with our presence than our presents. This holiday season, may your focus be fixed firmly on His presence so you may fully enjoy the blessings He brings.
Father, during this busy Christmas season, help me to keep my focus where it should be - on You and on the precious gift of Your Son. I want to have an undivided heart so that I may love serve You fully and in a way pleasing to You.