I’m convinced we have it largely wrong.
Not everybody, of course – we’re too diverse a species for me to make a sweeping generalization like that fit; but I can certainly speak for myself. I have it wrong. I look at my brown buddy this morning and think “WWJD? What would Jackson do?” Jackson Brown is my eight year old chocolate lab and constant companion. He’s also the paragon of piety in my life. I give him what time I can and, in return, he gives me everything he has. And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. He gives me so much more than is even apparent in those trusting brown eyes. Just by living his life, he’s a constant source of life lessons for me. Talk about “living in the moment”… For me, that’s a high ideal and a constant struggle. For him, it’s breathing. He just does it. No letting yesterday’s concerns infringe on today, no worries about where his dinner will come from tomorrow or tonight; his belly is full now, and that’s enough.
Lest someone raise an eyebrow at my commandeering the WWJD slogan, let me assure you – I mean no disrespect. Really, what better example of how I should react to the calling of Jesus is there than the example of Jackson Brown and how he relates to me? No matter what I’m doing, he’s only content when he’s by my side or by my feet. That’s all he wishes for – my time, attention and affection (okay, and as many treats as he can convince me to provide… Let him who is without sin cast the first stone…!) Strip away all the complexity with which we’ve insulated ourselves from the simple message and there it is in the Scriptures too – the story of Mary and Martha from Luke 10:
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
There are so many ways I could go with this, but this morning I’m thinking of “the reason for the season” – having spent the day wandering the mall yesterday enduring the barrage of Black Friday come-ons, having recently been through the same crowds and supermarket frenzy to buy enough raw tonnage of food to make it possible for me to spend a day in thanks (as if I don’t normally have more than enough for which to be thankful?) I came home tired and aching – both in my legs and in my spirit. I felt like an alien on a strange planet, every step, every store just adding to the feeling that I’m so out of step with the world in which I live.
Please don’t get me wrong – I’m truly not damning you if your raison d’être is to shop and decorate and swim with the tides of the season. I’m sure Jackson doesn’t understand why I do many of the things I do, but he’s largely not troubled by that either – he lives in a way that makes sense to his canine brain and, to the best of his ability, tries to make sure he finds what he wants and needs. He doesn’t try to convince me to do things his way, and in my better moments, I don’t believe it’s my calling to do do that with others either. I’m just talking out loud to myself more than anything, sipping my tea as Will Ackerman provides the soundtrack in the next room. I’m hunting and pecking this rambling treatise out, trying to find my own path through this life, trying to “live circumspectly”, as the Scriptures exhort.
Maybe you are too. If that’s the case, I hope you’re able to silence the noise of life for a few minutes and listen for the sound of your own drummer, however faint and distant, and that the words of Isaiah the prophet are made real to you:
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”