Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's about the heart!

     One thing we hear often this time of year is ‘Perfect Christmas’. Everyone wants a perfect Christmas. We see it in ads, on TV, movies, and in conversations. What makes a perfect Christmas? We usually have a formula written out as a check list. Perfect tree, perfect lights on the house, perfect dinner served on a picture perfect table, perfect gifts given and received, perfect time with family and loved ones, perfect special time with the one we love, a perfect Christmas service or program at church, and perfect, worry free, trouble free days. We strive for nothing less than perfection because Jesus deserves nothing less. Really? Dwayne’s mother, when she was alive, loved Christmas. Christmas at her house was in many ways, picture perfect. She had a beautiful tree with many gifts wrapped and pouring out from under the tree, traditional hung Christmas stockings, favorite Christmas foods, family and friends. It was a great time. However, I remember one year it was all different. Everything was in place; beautiful tree, gifts, food, friends and family, even grandchildren. However, there was something missing. Her son. Dwayne’s brother was working in New York and wasn’t going to be able to come home for Christmas. She went through all the motions and tried hard not to show that her heart wasn’t totally in it. This was the first year that one of her children was not going to be present in her home for Christmas Eve. Dwayne and I knew how she was struggling, so we purchased a plane ticket for him to come home as the Christmas gift for his parents. Everyone showed up at the perfect Christmas celebration and we told his parents that we had a special guest, Santa Claus (AKA Dwayne’s brother) coming by for the kids. Soon Santa came in with his HO,HO,HO! At first his parents didn’t know who Santa really was, but soon the realization hit and the floodgates of tears began pouring. Not the quiet kind of crying but the waling kind that all women do and then stress over because of the embarrassment of the horrible sounds and faces that we make. Now, I will tell you that the perfect Christmas celebration didn’t matter one bit at this moment. She could not have cared less that she didn’t have a present to open, or that the tree was up and there was great food on the table. All she cared about was that her child was in her presence and they were going to spend some special time together. She was pleased beyond words.
We do the same thing with God. We strive for perfection in our service and our worship. Once, I served in a choir where excellence was the theme. We strived to produce excellence in everything! Every musical number and every drama presentation had to be performed perfectly. Excellence in every way because Jesus deserves nothing less. However, this limited many people who want to praise God through singing but can not because someone does not think they are talented enough to participate in the music ministry.
     I do not see anywhere in Scripture that God has to have excellence to be pleased. If he did, He wouldn't want me because I am not perfect or excellent in every way. Thankfully, it is the heart that He cares about. It is the heart that He judges. It is our hearts that He wants. Whatever we do, we need to make sure we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to bring honor to Jesus through a humble and responsive heart. I have seen this difference in many ways but the one which spoke the loudest to me was with worship ministers. I have seen some great leaders with amazing voices. They can put a 'perfect' worship service together with an excellent performance from a choir or worship team. However, the most amazing worship minister I have ever sat under was a man that led you right to the feet of Jesus. As you worshiped you knew you were in the presence of Jesus and that is all that mattered. He was musically skilled, but it was his amazing spirit of worship that moved you. It flowed out of him straight to your heart. Every song, every word, every performance was to praise God, love Jesus, and let the Holy Spirit minister. He was humble and never exalted himself. I actually have never heard him sing. The spot light never came off of God!
     Don’t get caught up with having to be perfect to please the Lord. A humbled and surrendered heart is what He wants. Serve Him with your heart. The Apostle Paul tells us to do everything as to the Lord and not for the pleasure and approval of man. Do you put yourself down, not thinking you are perfect enough for God? Do you not sing because you don't think you are 'talented' enough? Do you not talk to people about God because you don't think you are eloquent in speech? Do you truly love God? Have you surrendered your heart to Jesus? Have you let the Spirit humble you? That is what it takes to please God and that is true excellence!

But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are not as they pretend to be.
Jeremiah 17:10

1 comment:

Steph said...

It always makes me smile at how stressed we get becasue we do want everything to be 'perfect'; except we will never be perfect until we are with God in Heaven. I am one of these people that try to do everything perfect...even though I know that I am not and will never do anything to perfection.