Last week, I shared Part 1 of a series I've been writing for my church this Advent season. Today's post is Part 2 of that series.
In case you missed Part 1, here is the link to that post:
A Fresh Look at Advent - Part 1
The story centers around one family, giving a glimpse at real life during this season. I invite you to read along as we find our way to the heart of Christmas.
An Advent Story
"...whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10: 43b - 45
Jon’s keys made an awful noise as he tossed them disgustedly on the kitchen table. The traffic had been terrible on his way home tonight, only adding insult to the injury of his cruddy day at the office. He’d had about all he could take of Stan today. Ever since he’d gotten the partnership they’d both been up for, Stan had been a thorn in his side. It was bad enough that he’d been the acting partner for the last 5 months but now he was expected to train Stan to do his job. It was just too much salt in the wound and every day he felt more anger at the situation. With a big sigh, he glanced around at the empty kitchen and wondered where Sherri and Jenna were. He knew he was later than usual, but they should have been home from the gym by now.
Just then his cell phone rang, the notes of Sherri’s favorite song alerting him that it was her on the other end. “Hey babe,” Jon said as he answered, “I was just wondering where you guys were.”
“I’m sorry Jon,” Sherri replied, “we got held up at the gym after Jenna’s practice. Her coach has her working on a new twist to her beam routine and he wanted to discuss her progress. We’re about 15 minutes out, want me to pick up dinner?”
They finished up their conversation and with the promise of a Chick-Fil-A sandwich and some sweet tea in his near future, he pulled off his tie and headed into the family room. The Christmas tree was lit and there was a warm silence in the house right now. He was glad for the quiet, it would give him some time to think. Time to put this awful day behind him so he’d be decent company for his girls tonight. At least his family appreciated him.
Blowing out his breath, Jon sank into the leather recliner. The chair felt solid beneath him, so unlike his life lately. As he sat there lost in the struggle of his day, his eyes fell on the manger scene that sat on the hearth. It did look odd not having the Baby Jesus figure there. Sherri had told him about her conversation with God the day she’d unpacked all their Christmas decorations and He’d noticed a real change in her attitude these past two weeks. She didn’t seem as stressed as she normally was this time of year. There’d even been a few mornings when he came downstairs and found her already up, reading her Bible as she sipped her coffee. Hmm…when was the last time he’d read his Bible at home?
A fresh wave of guilt washed over him, and he knew he needed to get back to spending time in God’s word. He had so little extra time these days. Seems like all the crazy stress that Sherri had been feeling a few weeks ago had all shifted onto his shoulders. Or was he simply making excuses? The words of their pastor came back to him as he recalled their conversation from a few months ago; “God will give you back the time you give to Him, but you’ll never realize it until you stop looking at the clock. Too much of the life we’re given is measured by the minute hand.”
“Ok Lord,” Jon prayed to himself as he reached for his Bible on the end table , “I guess now is as good a time as any to check out that promise. I’ve got a few minutes. It’s been a while, just me and you Lord so, where do you want me to start?” He began to flip through the pages of his Bible, and almost on their own, they fell open to Chapter 10 in the Gospel of Mark. As he read through verses 35 – 37, Jon was struck by the story. It begins with two disciples looking for a promotion in Jesus’ kingdom. They wanted to get the job of being next to the boss. That hit a little close to home. “Isn’t that what we all want Lord?” Jon mused bitterly as he continued to read.
As he read through verse 42 to the end of the story, he suddenly felt cold, shaken by what he read. “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” “For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve.”
Servant. Not to be served, but to serve. That’s hardly how he’d been living lately. He’d worked hard to make it to the top of the firm and had done well by being honest and dependable, not the self-absorbed jerk he’d become. Being pushed aside for someone who hadn’t paid his dues didn’t seem fair and arrogance had moved in, taking over his attitude. Maybe, he thought, that’s why things have been so frustrating lately. His pride had been run over by a truck a few weeks ago and instead of turning all his hurt and bitterness over to Jesus, he’d just hung onto it, letting it poison everything.
“Guess it’s impossible to lay this all at your feet Lord when you’re missing from my life. And I certainly can’t serve anyone when you’re not there to direct my steps. I’ve let this go on for so long Jesus, please forgive me for turning my back on you. Forgive my arrogance and pride that have kept me from being your hands and feet in the situation you chose for me. I’ve let resentment cloud my judgment and I’m so ashamed of the way I’ve acted. You came as a servant to us all, our example for this crazy world of me, myself and I. Walk with me again Lord and keep me on the path you’ve chosen.”
Just then, Jon heard the garage door open and knew the girls were home. Maybe he should listen to his servant heart and go set the dinner table. He smiled and with one last glance at the manger, got up from his chair and headed for the kitchen. Baby Jesus might still be AWOL, but his Savior Jesus was right back where he belonged, in the center of his heart.
With a courageous heart,