What? This Old Thing?

(Chatter letter from the editor, March)

I think it is hilarious when certain people get a “What? This old thing?” attitude every time they receive a compliment. Maybe it’s a beautiful kitten heel, a new car, or a fancy peacock with fancy, fancy manners. Doesn’t matter what it is, but it’s usually something shee-shee or fabby or fierce, and the person is like, What? You mean this? This inconsequential object that I happen to be wearing/driving/petting? I can’t imagine why you would draw everyone’s attention to something so incidental. You’re funny. The way you spend your time amuses me.

Of course, I do it too. I say, “What? This old thing?” all the time. I’m the most self-conscious person I know, especially when it comes to bags; and when somebody complements mine, I feel dirty — like I have to pretend not to care about its beautiful hardware or supple leather. It’s weird. I’m weird.

I doubt Jesus struggled with this.

Actually, ironically, incidentally, I think Jesus is calling us to a “What? This old thing?” kind of a life — except one that’s real and not pretentious, one that’s not just about new shirts or bowl cuts (remember those?), but one that considers everything, and I mean everything, as absolutely, positively incidental.

My job? Incidental. My marriage or dream of marriage? Incidental. My child’s academic performance? Incidental. My health? Incidental.

In Luke 14, large crowds are following Jesus, people who were no doubt in the market for a good show or pithy tidbit, when Jesus tells them how the cow ate the cabbage: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters — yes, even their own life — such a person cannot be my disciple.”

Yikes.

If my life is ever going to feel incidental, something else must be overwhelmingly consequential, and that’s nothing less than Jesus himself.

Is he worth it?

And if so, how do I start?

How do I start loving Jesus more than my children’s financial security? More than my circle of friends, or my new title at work? How do I love him more than my dreams, pet projects, and bucket lists?

Jesus goes on in Luke 14 with a charge to count the cost: What builder pours a foundation without considering if he will have enough money to finish? What king goes to war without considering the size of his army? First thing’s first: mull it over, think about it, go in with eyes wide open.

Yikes.

This is going to take some concentration, probably daily. Definitely daily. A daily crossroads. A daily cross.

The funny thing is, Jesus doesn’t plug himself at the end of the Luke passage like I would have done: “Let me give you several reasons why I far outweigh anything your normal priorities could ever deliver.” He doesn’t say that. He says, “He who has ears, let him hear.” Take it or leave it; I don’t have to sell myself. Do I look like Billy Mays to you? Is this QVC? Is this 3 a.m.? No, no, and heck no. Actions speak for themselves.

(I might have improvised a little with Jesus’ inner dialogue just then.)

It’s a plain old workaday decision, really: will Jesus’ presence and Lordship be the truest thing about me today…or will my children? Will his redeeming work be the truest thing about me this moment…or will my standing on the corporate masthead? Will his companionship and communion be the truest thing about me this very second…or will the pain of an unrequited love or a disappointing report or a very terrible hangnail?

I struggle with this. I bet you do, too.

Do you know anyone so at rest in this Someone of consequence that they can honestly say without a shred of pretentiousness:

What? This old thing? This old dream-come-true? This old fiancée? This old reputation?

It’s all incidental to the person of Jesus, the Beautiful Savior, the “head of the heroes,” as Dr. S.M. Lockeridge called him. I must decide, every day, to push out into the headwinds of true Love; to leave sand for rock; to remember what William Law has said: “If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.”

And if you’ve got a great bag to go with it, well…good for you.

Julie

Check out this month’s issue of Chatter here.

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They Were You (Chatter letter, February)

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3 Comments to “What? This Old Thing?”
  1. Carolyn Lee says:

    These pieces are always good, but this one is brilliant!

  2. Honey says:

    Truly profound – love it!

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