It has been a true blessing to have so many people involved in helping during this time of transition. My wife and I have spent the last few weeks either planning or setting up our new home. It hasn’t been easy because we are working in one state during the week and traveling to another on the weekends. There are some dedicated friends and family helping out in big ways but this is still stressful times. Anyone who has ever moved or changed jobs can understand the unique stress of those types of changes.
An unexpected change has occurred in all this commotion. My time in scripture and prayer has been disrupted by a flurry of activity, planning, and projects. At first I convinced myself that once we closed on the new house I would be able to relax during the week because it appeared there wouldn’t be much to do. After all I am over four hours away from home during the week so it seemed reasonable I could spend time concentrating on spiritual rest and growth. That has not been the case at all. Instead my evenings are filled beyond full planning “priority” projects. One such project is much needed kitchen cabinet replacements. By the time the cabinets are purchased I will have spent multiples more hours in researching them then the time it will take to install them.
I do look forward to our new life and in particular the blessing of serving in a rural community as a minister. Somehow it seems unlikely that others will learn from me how to have fellowship with the creator God if I am so easily distracted in life. In thinking about this, the parable Jesus told about a great feast that many were invited to attend and yet they all began making excuses to not be dinner guests came to mind.
Luke 14:15-24 Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!”
16 Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. 17 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ 18 But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. 24 For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’”
The first excuse given really hit me hard. “I have just bought a field and must inspect it.” The obvious question is who in there right mind buys a field without first inspecting it? Before buying a house I am inspecting top to bottom and behind every hidden spot I can access. Time is spent looking at the neighborhood, yard, streets, and even the surrounding community. I would not even consider making an offer until after looking at every valve, outlet, cabinet, and tree on the property. If I inspect a property for sale it will be obvious to me what condition everything is in. Besides banquets are an evening event, who is going to be looking at a field in the dark? Then it occurred to me the excuse is the same one I’m using. My mind has become preoccupied with a large purchase. Most of my time is spent strategizing improvements and how best to get them done. So much for spending my free time in fellowship with God…
Think about a banquet. It’s more than food, it’s a time of celebration and fellowship. Nobody invites guests to a banquet and expects them to prepare the food and plan the entertainment. The guests are invited to relax, have fun, connect with the host and such. We as Christians are invited into daily fellowship with Christ. It should be a time of celebrating the day and not thinking about tomorrow.
I get it that this parable was not talking about our earthly fellowship with Christ but there are eternal connections. So often we focus on the temporal instead of the eternal. We make excuses such as “there is too much responsibilities with my job or house to spend time with God today.” Another one is “my family responsibilities don’t allow personal time in prayer.” What about the times we place our focus on relationships rather than God? In the parable an excuse given was “I just got married.” In other words “my new relationship is more important than your invitation to fellowship.”
If the time spent on earth is focused only on the things of this world a day will come when we will miss out on the great banquet in heaven. Think about that instead of the latest distraction in your life.
Rev. Burt Schwab