Saturday, June 13, 2009

Day 13 & 14: Sit by the kitchen & Sow seeds

Today's reading starts out on a grim note: the first section is called "Repent or Perish," which is then followed by the story of a low-producing fig tree that's in danger of being chopped up into firewood. Not very Up With People, I have to say.

What do we do with passages like this, the ones that don't have Jesus smiling benevolently while patting a small child's head? Me, I tend to skip them, or pretend those passages are for other know, the less spiritual ones, the ones who just don't get it. Then I go smugly about my day feeling proud of myself, quite sure I'm on the narrow path with a fig tree in full bloom.

I think this is part of the reason Jesus includes so many parables, all seemingly pointing in the same direction: we don't understand them all. So he makes a point one way, and then another, waiting for us to catch on. It's like he's saying, "Yo, Trish: YOU don't get it. Pay attention!" (Okay, Jesus probably never said "Yo," but you get my point...)

Here's where I caught on: in Chapter 14 (tomorrow's reading) Jesus gives some practical advice about etiquette and avoiding embarrassment: “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

That makes sense to me. When I sit at a table, I'm always thinking: "Who do I want to be next to/across from? Who will be fun to talk to? How do I make sure I don't end up next to the guy who's always trying to get people to join his multi-level marketing scheme?" Jesus says, essentially, "Just sit down. Take the spot no one else will want--the one by the bathroom, on the table corner, in the little kid's chair with the wobbly leg." When we do this, he says, God will invite us to a higher place. Just another piece of counter-intuitive advice on life in the Kingdom of God. But after a few years of trying it out, I can say (in the words of 12 Step Programs everywhere): It works if you work it.

Here's an idea on how to work it. I just read this book. It ends on a really charming note, suggesting that we sow seeds like farmers: not knowing exactly what will happen or when, but trusting God to make something of it. The author named six seeds each of us can sow daily in this spirit:

1. Silence
2. Prayer
3. Love
4. Friendship
5. Fasting
6. Hospitality

I'm going to give that a try. It feels counter-intuitive, as left to my own devices, lean in the opposite direction of almost every one of these. I close my eyes and draw the blinds on the outside world. So today, I'll sow some seeds.

Want to join in? How about this: a 3-for-1 deal! Drop a note in the comments this weekend, letting us know you're here, and say something encouraging to the rest of us. It can be long or short, unique or straightforward. That will count as 3 seeds (love, friendship, hospitality) for a just few short seconds of effort.

Then we wait to see what God does with them :)

In the harmonica-infused words of my favorite band, We could be what we want to see...


Sarakastic said...

I'm here and I'll sit on the wobbly chair. I usually read your blog early in the morning then I come back later in the day to read everyone else's comments because they are so inspiring and keep me on track.

Abby Green said...

I love the honesty in which people share here. I love the community it brings to me to be among strangers whose faces I don't even see. All of the words you share, I hear. I love the encouragement it invokes to be more me.

Stella said...

Hmmmm ... wonder what the "Yo!" equivalent would have been in Jesus' time?

I can't think of any sage advice I can share, but ... I can offer a cautionary tale and fess-up to some foolish behavior on my behalf.

The following comes under the heading "Circumstances Aren't Always What They Seem" or "Don't Rush To Judge". (You choose which.)

Earlier in the week I left a post alluding to a girlfriend's tacky behavior regarding a new guy "friend" of mine. I was ready to burn that bridge, blow it up, and watch it float down the river into the sea of "You'll NEVER Hurt Me Again!" expletive, expletive.

The short of it is I totally misjudged the situation and jumped to a conclusion that assumed the worst. Without sharing ALL the GORY details (that most likely have no relevance to anyone but me anyway--yawn!), there was no malicious intent on my galfriend's part. SHE called me to find out why I was angry with her (cause she's the one who wears the big girl panty's and NOT me). She assured me she would NEVER do a friend dirty (especially me 'cause she knows my history with guys), she went into a lengthy dialogue of why she valued me as her friend. Needless to say, I felt like a total "expletive". Not only did she smooth my baby-girl ruffled feathers, but let me know how valued I was--GULP!

I guess the point is that our individual histories cloud our vision of the present and can skew our thoughts; possibly leading to our loosing out on any potential good that comes our way.

Soooooo, this is me taking my place at the kids table by the kitchen under the drafty vent being served a cold plate of food.

OK, 'nuff of that ... I'm going to watch "Must Love Dogs" 2nite ... John Cusack is way CUTE and its a sweet story.


PS--The guy is still a jerk tho'.

Hannah said...

Thanks Trish.

blessedsubstance said...

hi im here. i will exercise humility today because i need to. i realize that i sometimes exalt myself in my mind by trying to do what is proper at all times and i put undue pressure on myself to perform properly. today i was asked to pray at a bridal shower before eating and i was so nervous i stumbled through the prayer. i just had to say the right things, so i embarrassed myself. so i hereby let perfection go. as a sign of submission i am not using proper grammar and i cringe as i write this by not capitalizing the pronoun i. i symbolically humble myself and God will exalt me in due season. i love you guys.

heiress said...

I'm here too! I was restling with what to say to you all that would be encouraging. And, today God lead me to pray for everyone here. So, I prayed that this time everyone would receive the desires of their heart whether it be a husband, a baby, book deal, job, whatever you have been praying for I believe that you will receive it.

After I prayed I asked God to lead me to a scripture or passage of encouragement. He lead me to Isaiah the 61 chapter and it's titled "The Year of the LORD'S Favor"! I encourage you all to read it and declare with me that this is our year, 2009 is the year of the LORD'S Favor:-)!

Anonymous said...

i am here. thank you to each of you for all of the honesty and openness you bring. it brings comfort to know i am not alone on this journey; we are all moving along and learning every day. i pray God has revealed something to each of you this weekend.

Gretchen said...

I'm here, too!

I think the Philadelphia version of Jesus (or a Philly-translated version of the Bible) would say "YO." And, yes, John Cusack is cute and worth spending an evening watching (in my own humble opinion).

Way to go, everybody, on being willing to step up to the line for another round of trusting God for big things!

Liza said...

I was here over the weekend, but my internet was down almost the whole time. I can only say that I prayed for everyone this weekend during my prayer time. Hope everyone had a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

God keeps asking me to stretch my faith more and more as I go through this 40days of faith process and what I am standing in faith on. In my need to be perfect (all you type "A's" out there say amen), I have beaten myself up because I seem to fail in this faith walk. Believing strongly one minute but then saying the next "but Lord don't you see my circumstances?" (like He is busy elsewhere or something and can't see it Himself). I then feel bad and beat myself up for wavering. but God let me know that in my weakness, He is strong. I can't have the faith I need in my "own" doing but only through Christ working through me. It allowed me to stop, breath, and put the bat down and begin to allow God's faith (not mine alone) manifest itself through me. I hope this encourages someone as well. It did me.