Friday, November 30, 2012

Vacancy: Room Available Immediately

While it may ruin my reputation as a faithful Wesleyan, I must confess that I have been carrying around two Powerball tickets in my purse this week. One was purchased by my partner who almost always plays and one was purchased by me since we were far from home with no one looking. I did not think we would win when we made the purchase with some postage stamps at Publix last week, but we decided to take a chance.

It's probably good that we did not win.

Sure, we could have finally traded two underwater condos for a house with more than one bedroom. We could have enabled everyone around us to have the Christmas of their dreams. We could have planned a New Year's Eve extravaganza. It would be fun to have $175+ million at one's disposal.

But, it's good we did not win.

Had we won, I would have likely quit my job on Thursday morning. I would have forfeited plans for an amazing summer sabbatical and gone on a permanent sabbatical. I would have not just told God how God was crazy for calling me to the impossible task of leading a church but instead come close to telling God to "Take this job and shove it. I ain't working here no more."

I'm tired.

Running on empty.

I've been trying to do it all. I've stayed up late fretting over the pledges that have not yet come in. I've been filling parts of a role that has been empty at our church for months. I've been trying to see several shut-ins, have coffee with new people and be present for my people. I've been reading materials for the Board of Ordained Ministry and thinking about a new exam process. I've been working with a coach and filling the pages of a notebook with things I should be doing. I've been leading a church through growth, hoping each week that the Vital Congregations Dashboard will show how I am a successful pastor. I've made it. If they could see me now!

But I have been missing the main thing. A stack of devotional books on my table will reveal to you when I last picked up some of them as the place-marker falls on a date that is long passed. I am not in the pulpit for two weeks in a row which means that my Bible has not been opened for study much, let alone for seeking to encounter God. I've thanked God for meals because I'm married to someone who never forgets, while often going about my day with more cuss-words yelled on I-395 than prayers of praise and adoration.

I'm running on empty. And I'm convinced that this life is not the life I am called to live. No doubt Jesus keeps on knocking, keeps on trying to get my attention. But I keep giving him one message: There's no room here for you. There's no vacancy. Can't you see how much is on my to-do list, Jesus? Can't you see how success is measured in this thing called the United Methodist Church? Can't you see how I can come to you later - after I've done all these other things?

No room.

I'm full.

And yet....I'm empty. I'm in need of a savior and a second chance.

As we approach the eve of Advent, I'm crawling back. I'm determined to not make these next 26 days about holiday lights, pretty packages, sugar cookies, greeting cards, overeating and overspending. Rather, I want to do everything to show Jesus how there is room available here. There's space that is wide open, chiseled out like the middle of a vessel that is ready to be filled.

This Advent will be different. I refuse to be like the innkeeper who told Mary and Joseph how there was no room at the inn. I refuse to push Jesus to the barn out back. Rather, I want him to take the best space possible - all of it - every pocket of my life and every ounce of my being.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel. I'm ready for you. There's room available here: a great big vacancy waiting to be filled by you.

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