Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Macaroni Necklaces

What is perhaps most concerning about the Sabbath slipping away from me was how quickly, and how easily, I came to justify all of the little things that would have been unthinkable for so long. How I kept cutting away little bits of time and little bits of time and little bits of time and convincing myself that it was still possible to practice the Sabbath in the little bit that remained. How easy it was to tell myself that two hours of Sabbath on a Sunday was still a Sabbath, that "life" just required my Sabbath to look different for awhile. 

It wasn't true, of course, but it didn't stop me from telling myself these things. And it didn't stop me from wanting to believe them. 

Do you remember the story in Acts where the husband and wife - Ananias and Sapphira - sold their land and said they were bringing all of the proceeds to God to benefit the work of the Kingdom, but then, they didn't bring all of it? They were condemned; both of them died right there on the spot. But it's not because they didn't bring all of their proceeds.

It's because they had said they were bringing all of their proceeds, but then didn't. It's because they lied to God about the totality of what they were giving Him. It's because they said they were doing one thing but actually were doing another, then trying to pass off the lesser thing as just as holy as the promised thing. 

In other words, they were setting aside two hours of their day of rest, when it was convenient and nothing else was pressing it, and calling it Sabbath. 


This is probably our greatest temptation as Christians. We want to believe that whatever we are able to bring to God is holy - and it is - but we've also fallen into this trap where we believe that bringing any little holy thing is the same as bringing everything. That God loves our two hours as much as our whole Sabbath. That God Himself is as satisfied with our excuses as we are. That He's not only satisfied with them, but that He affirms them. 

Of course you can't Sabbath in a time like this! We're in a global pandemic. You're working on a book. You need to wake up your mind for good writing. Your boss might be trying to get in touch with you. (By the way, this last problem has always been solved in my life by simply making it clear to those who know me and might need me that I am unavailable by email/instant message/internet contact on Sundays and that if they should need anything, they must call or stop by. Without exception, every single person in my life has always respected this.) 

Still, we run these dialogues in our heads where God sounds an awful lot like us, and we convince ourselves that He's on board with our slipping away. That He's okay with it. That He just knows and trusts that our hearts don't love it (spoiler alert: they actually kind of do, or else we wouldn't do it) and that He loves whatever little gifts we bring Him. 

Make no mistake: God does love every little gift that we bring Him, but when you've promised to bring all your proceeds and you start storing a little off to the side for yourself, God is neither honored nor glorified (nor impressed - though not in the sense that we should be aiming to "impress" God; rather, more like He is "not amused." He is heartbroken). 

So we have to stop thinking that God doesn't notice, or doesn't care, or even that He agrees with us when our discipline starts slipping away. We have to stop thinking that any little thing is enough when we know that we are committed in our hearts to bringing so much more. We have to stop confusing the Father who loves us and who loves the macaroni necklaces we make Him with a God who wants nothing more than for us to make Him macaroni necklaces. 

For God desires - and deserves - much more. 

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