Archive for March 18th, 2008

Proper Perspective

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Today’s scripture: John 12:1-11 (ESV-text and audio) (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Theresa Benson):

When I was a girl, I remember struggling to stay up until midnight so I could watch Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. I would imagine myself someday being in Times Square. I’d probably have attended some cool party with my best friends, Donny and Marie Osmond (because, of course, when I was a grown up, Donny and Marie and I would be super tight), and then made my way to the center of all the action to count down with the rest of the world.

One year, in the breathless excitement of it all, I told my Mom how cool I thought it was and how I wished I were there. She said, “Honey, be realistic. Can you imagine all the pickpockets and muggers in the crowd down there? It wouldn’t be safe, and it wouldn’t be any fun. It’s dangerous, it’s cold…I think that’s the last place you should want to go on a night like this.”

Pfffffllllllbbbbbbtttt.

There went all the air out of the purple and pink balloons in my Theresa, Donny, and Marie New Year’s Eve grown-up extravaganza.

Today’s Bible story is rich with a million little details to explore, but there’s a one I’d like us to consider. Remember the other day, when I mentioned that Jesus put people in His ministry into roles that fit their talents? For example, he asked James and Andrew, who were fishermen, to be “fishers of people,” and offered to teach them what they didn’t already know. It’s a good reminder that God generally doesn’t ask us to do work in a role that’s outside our character, and God’ll give us the tools to succeed.

So, Judas was the accountant of the group. I imagine that when Jesus first met him, He saw that Judas had a way with keeping a budget, making sure they had enough money for food for the growing entourage of followers, and Jesus and the rest of the guys really valued him for that. So they counted on Judas to just handle things.

I imagine in the beginning, that wasn’t a problem. But Judas started realizing that no one was paying attention, really, to the money, and given his savvy with numbers and keeping the books, he could take a little here, embezzle a little there. (Clearly someone noticed, or else John wouldn’t have mentioned it.)

Before long, the talent that afforded him this role in the group went a little haywire, and instead of having a balanced perspective on things, all he could see was money. Rather than seeing the beautiful, giving act of Mary anointing Jesus, he sees wastefulness. And when it comes to betraying Jesus later on, it’s about money again.

Jesus tries to bring Judas some perspective, to help him un-stick that haywire accountant gene. He reminds Judas that he’s missing the opportunity to be in the present and appreciate moments like these because He won’t always be around.

Of course, my Mom wasn’t actively trying to crush the dreams of the eight-year-old girl playing air guitar to Blondie on the Dick Clark special. Mom let her talent of having a realistic perspective on things — the talent that had made her successful in business — make her “mom protection mechanism” go haywire. Because of this she only saw danger in the crowd, and sickness in being outside in the winter, rather than the imaginings of a little girl excited to be up past her bedtime and dreaming of the big city.

If only I’d had the perspective I do now to have said, “Mom, there is always a risk, no matter what we want to do. But you’ll only have me as a little girl, still dreaming my New Year’s Osmond dreams, for a little while longer.”

Has your gift of giving to others made you overcommitted and is preventing you from taking time for yourself or your own family? Do you feel your skills at work in such high demand that you find yourself working late and missing opportunities to connect with family and friends? If you’re a parent, are you finding yourself scolding and protecting more than laughing with and enjoying your children?

Thought for the day: We won’t have this day again. What are we missing by taking our focus off of the present, and losing our connection with God?

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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