Happy Easter from the Zoo
Monday, March 24, 2008
Here's a Secret About Me . . .
Ready? I hope you can handle this 'cause it's something I've never confessed to another human before, although I must say I've had to confess it to the Lord many a time. So, what's the secret?
Here it is: I'm a BONEHEAD Christian!
There, it's out. I've said it, and you know my dirty little secret. If you're shocked and disgusted about it, well, how do you think I feel? Ick!
Okay, so I had to go look up the word bonehead just to make sure I wasn't saying something that was really going to embarrass me or offend any of my readers. Hey, I believe in complete honesty, but, you know, you gotta be sensitive to others sometimes.
Anyway, a bonehead is somebody who is stupid, thick or muddled headed, and bondheaded is someone lacking fundamental skills. Yeah, I think that would pretty much describe me as a Christian some days. At least that's the way I feel about myself when I mess up, which seems to be with astonishing frequency. Take yesterday, for instance . . . a situation arose that showed me two reasons that I am a bonehead Christian.
Easter Sunday. A day not for chocolate, eggs, and bunnies, but a day to remember that Christ, an innocent man, died for His Father's enemies, for sinners, for all mankind. Except that this Easter was also a day at our church when all the ladies who are participating in the Secret Sister swap brought gifts for their sister. Now, I have to tell you that I have not had a good experience with this ministry in the past, and that's exactly what it is supposed to be, a ministry. The whole point is to be a blessing to someone else, either through cards, little tokens of love in the form of gifts, and especially prayer for that person. I tend to get all caught up in the gift part, forgetting to pray for my secret sister. But I do atleast remember to show that person I care by putting a lot of thought into and picking up gifts that I think will be a blessing to them. On the other hand, I seem to always end up with partnered with someone who, in the gift-giving department, is a little, er, clueless. See? There is that boneheaded thing creeping up again.
So, this time, before joining in the fun, I had to think about it a few weeks. I did not want to end up feeling like I did in the past, all disappointed and frustrated . . . . and jealous of the other people who got really, really good stuff. I decided that I would not allow myself to feel that way and signed up, determining that the really important thing is to be a blessing to others. I received the name of a person that I had had the opportunity to get to know better over the last few months. To be perfectly honest, I was glad to have her name and excited to know that I had the power to brighten a sometimes otherwise discouraging life. So, not so boneheaded that day, huh?
Need I say that my good intentions did not last long? Yesterday, that was not Christ's glory eluminating the sactuary. What people were witnessing was my boneheadedness shining brightly thoughout the morning services. It seems that I have issues with the fundamental skills of true Christ-likeness. So here's the whole sordid story . . .
All of the secret sister gifts were laid out like booty from the Pirates of the Carrotbean on the table in the foyer. I immediately spotted all of the loot as I passed by on my way to Sunday School. Oh, wow! There was some awesome stuff there! I just knew that there was something amazing waiting for me! I quickly glanced over all of the gifts and the names on the cards. I did not see my name anywhere but was not immediately disappointed. Hey, it was only 10 a.m. Maybe my secret sister hadn't made it to church yet. You know, Baptists are notoriously late for everything, even Sunday School . . . and especially on Easter Sunday, because you've got to be decked out in those new Easter outfits. Yes, nothing like new outfits for the whole family to get your mind on spiritual things. Right. Anway . . .
Then, I spotted a small plastic Eastery bowl in the back with two little chocolate bunnies and some plastic, candy-filled eggs. It looked rather sad sitting there amongst the potted azaleas and lilies, overflowing baskets, and beautifully wrapped boxes. My first thought was to feel bad for whoever was receiving that compared to what else was on the table. The next sickening thought was for my bonehead self . . . I knew in my heart that it was mine, though it lacked a name tag. I quickly looked away and made my way to Sunday School, trying not to be disappointed.
Forty-five minutes later, my suspicions were confirmed as my mom pointed to the little plastic bowl and told me that so-and-so had told her to make sure I got my gift. It took about two seconds for some negative comment to come tumbling from my wicked tongue. I'm surprised it didn't turn black and fall out of my mouth. And I'm surprised my ungrateful heart didn't shrivel up and die right there for all the jealousy and unappreciative feelings I had. The very reason I had hesitated joining the fun was unfolding with increasing disgust on my part.
At first I was going to give my candy away to my husband and kids because I was, after all, trying to lose some weight. But I decided against it for some reason and took it down to my seat beside mom and behind my brother and his wife. See, I'm a front-row Baptist while my husband and kids are back-row Baptists. I used to be a back-row Baptist but decided too many people have pint-sized bladders and have to use the bathroom too much during services. Too much of a distraction for a girl who finds herself more often than not doodling during preaching. Yeah, that's pretty frustrating. The older I get, the more I think I'm ADD or something. Anyway . . .
During choir my sister-in-law with the growing abdomen (she's expecting in July) commented that she was so hungry because all she'd had for breakfast was fruit. By then my conscience had chastised me pretty good, and I was beginning to feel pretty bad about my stinkin' attitude. So, I offered to give her some chocolate from my little plastic bowl after we came down from the choir loft. I decided that the little plastic bowl was already making a difference to somebody, even if it wasn't me.
All through the services I really kept thinking about how stupid it is to get upset over something like this. I mean, there are prayer requests for people who are dying with cancer, eleven-year-old car accident victims who need spinal surgery, a family I've known for 20 years whose husband and father died from complications from liver cancer, and who knows what else! There are people in my church who have lost jobs and do not know what's next. There are marriages in trouble, families being torn apart, and souls who, if they died right that moment, would be eternally separated from God. My stinky attitude was making me challenged as a Christian. If there was anything like Special Olympics for Christians, I'd probably be a member.
Then came the ultimate realization of how thick-headed I am as a Christian. You see, just last week God had allowed me to come across Acts 20:35 during my Bible study last week. The latter part says "...remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive." I'm surprised that people did not hear an outward groan when the Holy Spirit brought that little bit of information to the fore-front of my boneheaded thinking. The truth of the matter is that I had already received my blessing by picking out something for my secret sister that I knew would make her day. My blessing had not come by receiving but by giving.
So, in short, what makes me a bonehead Christian is the fact that I am thick-headed and often seem to lack the basic skills of someone who is supposed to be like Christ. This most often happens when I allow my flesh to take over, which is way too much. And this happens because I do not "walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5). It seems that I have two choices as a Christian: walk in the Spirit and be more Christ-like, or walk in the flesh and be a bonehead. Being a bonehead is painful. I do not like it one bit nor do I recommend it to anyone.
I am remembering something I read a while back about the stuff that we own or want to own. God tells us in James 12:15 to "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." Being a secret sister really is about more than just stuff! It's about reaching out to women who are not just members of my church; they are my sisters in Christ. They are part of my spiritual family, and I am to show them Christ's love and care.
So, if you're reading this and you think think it sounds an awful lot like yourself, just be mindful that you are not alone. Maybe, as we grow and mature, the head will get a little softer, the attitude a little sweeter, the heart a bit more tender, the neck not so stiff, and the flesh will disappear as the Spirit is given full reign. As I close, I am reminded of the fact that I am the very reason Christ had to die. For every bad attitude, ungodly thought, and every sinful act, He chose to take my place and my punishment. He was the ransom for my soul. He paid a high price to redeem a sinful, undeserving person like me. He loves me, He loves me, He loves me.
Your bonehead friend and sister,
Happy Easter from the Zoo