Changing My Focus – Advent 2012 – Day 4

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Advent 2012

Rediscovering the Christmas Season – Day 4 – Servant of All – Mark 9:33-37

Once upon a time, Jesus and His disciples were traveling over the river and through the woods to visit grandmother’s house in Capernaum.

Or something like that.

Anyway, on the way there Jesus could overhear them in the back seat bickering over who was the Most Awesome Disciple EVER.  At least when they weren’t asking “Are we there yet?”

Or something like that.

Deciding against Parental Option A (threatening to TURN THIS CAR AROUND RIGHT NOW), Jesus went with Parental Option B – pretending He didn’t hear them.

Or something like that.

Until they got to the house in Capernaum.  And out of the blue, Jesus called them out.  I love how nonchalantly He goes about it.  It’s pretty hysterical, actually.  I think Jesus had a pretty awesome sense of humor.  I mean, He is the Creator of the platypus, after all.

I can see it now.

Jesus: “Um, so . . . what were you arguing about on the way?”

Disciples:  ” . . . . . . . . . .” (*crickets chirping in background*)

The disciples had thought they were so sneaky.  I can almost picture them trying to figure out what to say.

Glancing at each other.  Glancing at Jesus.  Glancing back at each other.  Glancing back at Jesus.

Seriously?  What dolts they could be at times.  I mean, seriously?  How many miracles did they have to witness to get it?  Like He didn’t hear them?  Hello?  Son. of. God.  I think He’s got pretty good hearing.  And mind-reading abilities.

Gives me hope.  Because I can be such a dolt, too.

Anyway, I just love what happens next.  The disciples have no answer.  I can see their heads hanging down, shoulder slumped, eyes staring at the ground, refusing to look Jesus in the face.  Like kids who have been caught don’t want to fess up because they know what’s coming.

And Jesus?  He sits down.

Sits.  Down.

Like a frazzled parent who is tired of saying the exact. same. thing.

Over.

And over.

And over.

Wondering if their kid is EVER going to GET IT.

I’ve read this passage at least a hundred times over the years, but I’ve never looked at it so closely before, and never from the perspective of a parent.

What He does next is a lesson for all of us frazzled parents out there wondering if we are wasting our breath.

He doesn’t get angry.  He doesn’t yell.  He doesn’t ask them what’s wrong with them.  Because, let’s face it, after you’ve said the same thing a thousand times, you can get a little perturbed and start to wonder if there is a brain in the noggin of your kid.  I’ve been there.  Recently.

And I did not react well.

The problem is that I reacted instead of acting.  Jesus acted.  He used this as a teachable moment.  He sat down, probably counting to ten and taking some deep breaths as He did so, and told the disciples to get their butts over there.

Or something like that.

Then he said something that they totally were not expecting to hear.  “If you want to be the Most Awesome Disciple EVER then you have to be the Most Awesome Servant Ever.”

And He sat a kid on His lap and said whoever welcomes one little child in His Name welcomes Him.

I don’t know if His brother James was there that day or not, but he reiterated this concept in his letter.  James 1:27 says, “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

God has a heart for kids.  He wants to be our Father more than anything.  When we help those who are less fortunate, then we are reflecting the heart of God.

What a lesson.

All too often I am like the disciples.  Focused on my wants and my needs and my desires and my comfort.  Wanting to get what I deserve.  At least what I think I deserve.  And getting frustrated and mad when things don’t go the way I want them to go.

This Christmas I want to live out my faith – and set a godly example for my son – by serving those who are less fortunate and doing what I can to meet their needs.  God has blessed me tremendously this year, and I want to give back to Him by sharing what He has given to me with others.

Don’t misunderstand.  Things have been pretty tight since I became a single mom.  But I am blessed with a decent-paying job that is secure.  God has always come through whenever it looked like we wouldn’t have enough.  Always.   And, as a result, our lifestyle hasn’t drastically changed even though our household income decreased by 50% and I have yet to receive any child support.  Provision has come from a number of different sources – from doing some freelance work for different people to unexpected bonuses at work.

I know how much it meant to me to know someone – anyone – out there cared.  I want to help someone else know they are also cared about and valued.

I have a friend who teaches at the elementary school my son attended.  It is a great school, but over 60% of the students are considered economically disadvantaged.  Every year they ask people in the community to sponsor kids who otherwise would not get much, if anything, for Christmas.  We always do an office Christmas project at work that everyone chips in on, so this year my boss agreed to adopt two kids from the list.

We started spreading the word, and we had such a good response that we added two more a few days later. And yesterday I called the school and added another six – SIX – kids.  So now we have ten kids that we are providing gifts for this Christmas.

And when I say providing gifts, I mean PROVIDING GIFTS.

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And we may even be able to add a few more if more donations keep coming in.

Since most people have chosen to donate money instead of purchasing gifts themselves, I have the privilege of doing most of the shopping for the kids, and that has been a huge blessing to me.  It is so rewarding to be able to purchase things that you know are going to make a child’s day and make a parent who may be feeling like a failure feel like a hero instead.

Focusing on these kids and their families and doing what I can to make it a great Christmas for them has really helped me keep my perspective this year when it would be so easy to focus on what I have lost and how I have been wronged.  How utterly selfish that would be when God has provided MORE than abundantly for our needs.  There are gifts under my tree, food in my fridge (and cabinets, and freezer), heat in my house, a ton of clothes in my closet, and a reliable car inside my garage.  How dare I even THINK about whining?  How dare I think about insulting God that way?  What arrogance that would be.

This year I choose to rejoice, give thanks, and be content instead of clenching my fists, stomping my feet, crying like a baby, and throwing a temper tantrum because I didn’t get what I wanted.  He deserves my praise and gratitude, not my whining and woe-is-me-ing.

Life isn’t fair.

Just ask Jesus.

He opened His hands and took the punishment I deserved.

I choose to open my hands and accept the peace He offers.

I’m linking up with Thorns and Gold to share Advent/Christmas posts this month. 

Also linking with:
New Equus • Found the Marbles • Jenni Mullinix • Intentional.Me • Our Simple Country Life • Walk in His Grace • Lost in the PrairiesYour Thriving Family • Christian Mommy Blogger• Raising Mighty Arrows • A Holy Experience • Graceful • lowercase letters • The Better Mom • The Wellspring •What Joy Is Mine • Covered In Grace • Finding Heaven • Rachel Wojnarowski • Gracelaced • The Mom Initiative • Heavenly Homemakers
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5 thoughts on “Changing My Focus – Advent 2012 – Day 4

  1. Pingback: Changing My Focus – Advent 2012 – Day 5 « Pilgrim Wanderings

  2. Hi Nancy
    Oh, thank you for a good laugh and I know our Lord has a BIG sense of humor. My husband always likes to say that he can explain and explain a thing over and over again, but he cannot produce the mind to understand!! Jokingly, of course. Nice meeting you at Mindy’s. thanks for this charming post.
    Hugs XX
    Mia

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