by Erica Pearson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Her beautiful blue eyes turned from joyful to ice cold with one deep breath. With no words, she made clear what she thought of my request.
So the standoff began.
I was ready for it (this was simply standoff number 432 of the toddler years).
I knew she was not going to like what I had to say, however I also knew I had a point to prove. At a little above 2-feet tall, her eyes do all the talking for her. Her eyes declared loudly, “I do NOT want to do this and I see this as a terrible case of injustice.”
I gathered all the mommy strength I could muster and sternly restated “Pick…up…the…popcorn……” While eating her popcorn she had made the decision to make quite a mess and thought it would be much more fun to eat it off the floor than neatly from the bowl. My request for her to clean up her own mess was not met with enthusiasm, but with stubborn indignation.
What a representation of the state of our human hearts.
You see, I could not allow her to think this was ok. In that moment, I needed to train her the difference between right and wrong. Within one small bowl of popcorn were life lessons waiting to emerge. Lessons of responsibility, respect, ownership…
Lessons she did not want to hear.
I wonder what types of messes we take with us to a worship service, and how we respond when God’s word convicts us and invites us to “clean it up”. Are we ready to take ownership and take part in cleaning up the messes we make, or do we become indignant and demand that we know a better way? Do we dare a standoff with our Heavenly Father? I know who will win that staring contest.
Take King Jehoiakim and learn from his example.
Here is a King spending some leisure time in his “winter apartment” in front of a “firepot.” I imagine him kicked back and enjoying all the luxuries a royal life has to offer. He hears that God has a word for him so he sends someone to get the scroll and bring it to read to him. Now, imagine… this king kicked back and full of himself as he hears read from a scroll all the things he has done wrong (his spilled bowl of popcorn if you will) and all that is going to happen to him and his kingdom if he does not repent and turn from his wicked ways. Talk about the original hell, fire, and brimstone sermon.
What the king does next, however, shakes me to my core.
Like an indignant toddler, he “took his knife and cut the scroll and threw parts of it into the firepot until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire.”
Seems outrageous doesn’t it? To burn the very words of God! Throw them away as if they mean nothing!?
Yet, I am forced to ask of myself:
- How have I applied Sunday’s message to my life? Did it make it out of the parking lot with me, or did I throw it out the window as soon as road rage or frustration over waiting in line set in?
- How do I respond when a friend holds me accountable? Do I roll my eyes and insist I’m ok and don’t need any help?
- While in my quiet time and God convicts me, do I quickly turn on the TV to drown out His voice?
As I type I can almost hear the crackle as the paper hits the fire and smell the smoke rising around me. Are not my actions sometimes the very same as burning them up in a fire?
When God convicts me of loving my neighbor and I can’t so much as give a stranger a smile. When I sleep through my morning quiet time. When I keep that movie running that I know brings no honor to Him. That time I fail to listen to that still small voice asking me to do a simple favor for someone in need because I’m too busy. When I pick and choose which commandments I want to follow because the others seem “outdated.”
Here’s the thing. God wasted no time commanding Jeremiah the prophet to write His words on another scroll, and things did not end well for King Jehoiakim. I told you. I knew who would win that staredown.
Make no mistake about it. When God has something to say, He will be heard.
The question is…how will you respond?
You have two choices. You can throw it in the fire and let it burn up and suffer the consequences of ignoring His word, OR you can accept it and allow Him to help you figure out the best way to pick up your “popcorn”.