Friday, December 07, 2007

Come to Call

The other day, my spouse and I were joking about the prospects of a certain important person coming to visit us. "Can you imagine?" my husband laughed. We'd be calling, "Watch out for the big step!"

We have old stone stairs. They are different heights. One is actually three inches higher than the others. So we always subject our guests to a hearty shout, "Watch out for the big step!" It's a point of amusement by this time. But we realize it would actually be a source of embarrassment, if we had to shout such a warning to a very important person.

This got me thinking about how we act when we want to impress someone. We go around and clean up. We hide certain things. We might even tear down a staircase and erect a new one with proper step heights (depending on who was coming to call!).

In the book Austerlitz, one little ghetto experienced this clean-up act to a point of uneasy ludicrousness. Here were imprisoned Jews, suddenly treated to parks, window boxes, a new theater, and all other manner of loveliness and leisure, just because some important European government officials were going to make a visit.

And so it goes. The more important our visitors, the more we put on airs. Hide. Clean up.

In Isaiah, we are told to make way for the Lord of all creation. An important visitor. The most important visitor of all time and space. How do we make way? By cleaning up? By hiding? By rearranging?


"Watch out for the big step!" we must call. And invite the Lord of All to ascend the crooked stairways of our souls.

Garden Fire artwork by Gail Nadeau. Used by permission. Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.


LL's Peace Candle
LL's Unfolding
LL's Speak

At Tina and Friends: Prepare.
Charity's Advent thoughts

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Blogger Kim said...

As you know, I've been doing some hard work on my marriage for the last six years. One of the biggest compliments my wife has paid me is to tell others "He used to be a very different (better) person in public. But now he is the same person at home as he is in public." Transparency is a very humbling process. But worth it. One small step for giant leap for mankind.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

This reminds me of the little story called, My Heart--Christ's Home. It tells the story of Jesus being invited into a house and touring all the rooms.

2:06 PM  
Blogger Nikki said...

Beautiful sentiment and, as always, written with such grace. This brings to mind the Biblcal reference to whitewashed tombs in Matthew: what does it profit us to whitewash our exteriors when our hearts are dead and stinking? Do we think we can hide from God?

Still, we're admonished to keep oil in the lamps for when the bridegroom comes, to be ready, to be awake, to be pure. Perhaps, instead, we are to throw open the closets, dredge the refuse from under the beds, empty the garage of its years of clutter and lay it all at His feet. This, Lord, is how I really live. Sobering, a bit.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Oh, Laura! That artwork! It's breathtaking!

5:53 PM  
Blogger christianne said...

Oooh, I love what you did with this post. I could so visualize the stone stairs, the "big step" (love that!), the calling out the door to your visiting guests not to miss it. And then the movement toward Christ at the end. I sure have my many shares of big stone steps for Him to know about.

7:23 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

I love this, especially your ending. I wonder about the thought of people arguing that they should "dress up" because they are going to be with God's people in the presence of the King of kings and Lord of lords. I wonder if in this, we can want to show up at our best, rather than as we really are. And surely that hinders God's work in Jesus.

I like more of the "come as you are, as you really are" idea. Live that way before God, and find God's grace in Jesus in the midst of the real us, irregular and sinners, though we are.

11:20 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

Yes Ted, there's the difference. Christianity offers the welcome to "come as you are." But by the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit as He indwells us causes a God-honoring transformation. We came as we were, but we do not stay that way. It is up to God whether He fixes any of the "big steps" in us, but we can (and must) grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Shane Vander Hart said...

Great reminder of how me must be transparent before God.

I'm reminded of David who cried,

"Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! See if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting," (Psalm 139:23-24, ESV).

Shane Vander Hart

6:17 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The great tug of war between King of Kings and best friend. Loved the post, LL.

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh LL, I loved this post. As soon as I read the part about the big step, I hoped this was about Advent. Last night, I had a "big step" moment with Jesus. I wanted his presence more fully, but I felt lonely and ugly. I just called out for him anyway, and he was there. Then I asked him about his "big steps," and felt the "man of sorrows" knows my brokenness even more than I can imagine. This was beautiful, and the artwork, breathtaking.

7:48 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

When I realized I was near a panic attack from getting my house clean for someone I really wanted to impress, I finally had to DECIDE (against everything within my flesh) to leave a towel lying on the floor in plain view.

The guest came. We had a lovely visit. She was probably not bothered by the towel, probably not overly impressed with my spic in span house either though. But, oh, the wonders it did to my soul to just chill. out. and. enjoy. her.

Such a great truth as I consider welcoming the One who made Himself lower than a servant so He could visit with my in my towel-strewn life.

12:08 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Kim... So, does this mean you've brought your "better" self home or your "lesser" self into public? Or maybe a little bit of both? And, yes, transparency is humbling. But oddly, the first step to exaltation because it opens us to communion.

Craver... my stairs leading into a little story. How sweet.

Nikki... I think you've pinpointed something important about the Pharisees related to what I said to Kim above. All that hiding prevented communion. I love your image of dredging everything and putting it out there.

Heather... isn't it? I just keep clicking on it to see it larger.

Christianne... you too will be treated to such loud greeting, should you ever make it up North! :)

Ted... the thing is, as Nikki noted, it's not like we really have anything useful to dress up in anyway. Funny that we still pull out those fig leaves though.

Craver... I hadn't thought of the comparisons to other faiths. But there is that. The invitation to come and be cleaned rather than trying to clean up and then come. (A useless endeavor when we have blood on our hands.)

Shane.... welcome to Seedlings. Oh, great Psalm. Not so easy to utter though. Hiding seems to be our stronger suit.

Eve... great to hear from you again.

Charity... I was deeply touched by your comment. And I got this lovely picture in my mind at the same time I read about your feelings of ugliness... this picture of you being enveloped by the God who looks upon the heart.

Erin... oh that's marvelous. Choosing to leave a towel out. (Sounds like I need your organizational assistance here!)

10:38 AM  
Blogger kirsten said...

I just read Carl's most recent post over on Gyrovague ("Bananas & Lemons") & it smacks of similar sentiments ... about being more concerned with outward appearances than our actual inward brokenness, about hiding the dysfunction with a shiny coat of paint, as it were.

I love how you bring it back to Advent at the end, inviting the Lord to "ascend the crooked stairways of our souls." A beautiful thought. And He will ascend those funky stairs, which is always a marvel to me!

Yes, yes, and yes.

10:25 PM  

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