I wonder why it’s so easy to find fault with others and so hard to recognize faults in myself? I wonder why I am so endowed with a judging attitude and yet come up short in grace and mercy? Why do I do the things I don’t want to do, and not do the things I want to do? (an ancient question that hits the nail on my head today) I wonder…
I also find that having perspective for someone else is easier than for myself… I can look at the tapestry of someones life and say, “Aha, look at that, un-be-lieve-able!!!” and, “I can’t believe he said that!” and, “What was she thinking?” rather than to look at my own unattractive pattern of slipped and broken stitches, and take responsibility for being the one who made the mess, even do the hard work of beginning over to make it right.
Sometimes God has a way of jamming some perspective down my throat, and though I cough and choke and try to spit it back up, it’s the very thing I need to swallow, digest, and make a regular part of my diet. For me, perspective is always easier looking back that looking forward, but I’d like to have visionary perspective more often. A casual porch conversation with my hubby last night led him to voice an innocent enough comment, “Well, she was tending to things.” And just as I was about to launch into a commentary rant on why this particular person was tending to what was unimportant, why she should have done this or could have done that, suddenly, like a smack in the side of my conscience I thought, “Hang on a second… what am I tending to instead of ________ (whatever, you fill in the blank)?” It was like God tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You—follow me.”
One lusty, rugged fisherman called Peter once asked Jesus about details on another disciples life… right after Jesus had given him some very specific direction for his own life. Peter turns and looks at this other disciple and basically says, “Yeah, but, what’s going to happen to him, Jesus?” Jesus looked at Peter and says, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You—follow me.” (John 21:22 MSG) Oh drat… again I see that I need to get introspective and personal, rather than engage in the impersonal and nasty fun pursuit of bantering about other people’s shortfalls… Jesus asks me to look inward at myself and then upward to him… stop with the comparing game, and deal with the areas of my life where I may be lacking in ______________(whatever, you fill in the blank).
I remember reading this verse once about being a follower of Jesus, and becoming ‘slaves to righteousness’ and that really bugged me at first because it sounded, well, like slaves… prisoners, tied down, out of control etc. etc. Now I see that RIGHTEOUSNESS is a good thing to seek after, to be bound to, because it can save me from so much unrighteous stuff that is bad for me, bad for my character, bad for the people I live among. In the words of Bob Dylan,
“But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed, You’re gonna have to serve somebody, Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”
And I’d rather serve God and tend to his things, than tend to drugs, alcohol, materialism, jealousy, pride, self-righteousness, hate, greed, _______________ (whatever, you fill in the blank).
I get this picture in my mind of tending a vegetable garden… you know, the way one would carefully prepare the soil, till it for seeding, plant the seeds, water them, pull out the weeks, thin the seedlings, fertilize, water, watch and then, suddenly… fruit begins to appear on the plants and before long it’s harvest time. That type of tending to produces tasty results. I’d like a life like that.
So, that brings me back to the place where I’m feeling this pull to look at what I’m tending to and not tending to, and without disclosing my whole messy life, let’s just say I’m reminded that I need to keep a constant eye on what I choose to tend to… daily, almost hourly… to reel myself in, to ask God to help me to make the best use of my time here, to tend to the flesh and blood humans that he has placed me into relationship with rather than the tasks, or the time wasting activities I sometimes serve. Doing things Gods way means I need to focus on my own shortcomings, not theirs, and then, tripping and stumbling and getting back up again, to follow him.
Photo image taken from Telegraph.co.uk