Last night, I wrote about the cross that is a part of my nativity set this year. (If you missed that story, you can read it here.) What I had started out to tell was a little Maggie story, so I'm going to try it once again.
The "big" nativity set rests in a position of prominence on the coffee table. You can't miss it, and that's as it should be. Mamie (my five pound still-a-puppy Shih Tzu) has not been able to miss it either. Of particular interest to her is the wooden cross lying beneath the manger. She is not just fascinated by it, she thinks it's a chew toy. Several times, I've found wood chips lying on the rug beneath the coffee table, the residue of Mamie's chewing. (Once I realized she was nibbling the cross, of course, I repositioned it. Problem solved.)
Mamie's nibbling approach to the cross is a little bit like ours at times, isn't it? Don't we prefer just a little "nibble" than the whole dose of Jesus? "What?!?" you may be thinking. "Of course not! We want all the Jesus we can get!" Think about it, though. When I look at the words of Jesus, I'm shocked by them. He didn't pull any punches. We are to love the people who hate us the most, pray for them, forgive them. That sounds great when it's Jesus doing it, but when the rubber meets the road and it is US who's called to do it, it's not quite as easy, is it? What about deny yourself and follow Him is easy to embrace? Denying yourself and doing what Jesus has called us to do is absolutely the best life possible, but we don't instinctively know that. It's easier to nibble around obedience than to jump into denying ourselves wholeheartedly, isn't it?
Ahh. Therein lies the rub. Nibbling seems like following, but it's not quite. Admittedly, nibbling may be the first step, but we can't stop there. At some point, we must move past experimenting with obedience and embrace the cross fully, committing ourselves to unreserved obedience. Oh what joy awaits when we give ourselves and our lives fully to our Lord!
As we enter the natal week of our Lord, let us embrace the cross with all the enthusiasm we usually reserve for the babe in the manger and the festivities that typically surround this holy day. No more nibbling. Let's embrace fully the life He offers and the obedience it requires.
It's a little early, but Merry Christmas, dear ones.