Monday, February 23, 2015

The bar is low, The grace is high, Let us pray without seizing

#lentwithclowns on Instagram 
Last December along with half of the Jesus-followers of North America, we went through Ann Voskamp's Advent devotional book. It was adapted into a family/kid-friendly version and given to us as a gift.  The readings (and then discussion) were about 15 to 30 minutes long each night.  That turned out to be about 10 or more minutes too long for half of the 7 participants at our house.

We ended up skipping nights when life was too hectic and then needing to do three or four nights of the readings all at once on several occasions.  Of course, on the night we would make them sit there for an hour or more, they would get all antsy and sick of it and then we'd say something snappy and brusque and cause hurt and then Advent would be ruined, at least in that moment.  "Sit down now, sit still, quit whining, and focus with great anticipation and JOY on the coming Christ Child! Or else."

That, I can confidently say, is not the advised way to do devotions.  Slack, slack, skip and slack, then JAAAMM it in for the sake of "catching up".  We felt like we belonged on the bench with our heads in our hands based on our lackluster Advent-devotion-performance.

No. That is not true. Not really. We are actually super sure God's grace is more than sufficient to cover our craptastic family commitment to nightly devotions - we are under no illusions that we are in some competition to be the holiest holy devotion-reading-family nor do we care to perpetuate an idea that earning our spot is a thing.  Because the bar is low and the grace is high. 

Last Tuesday when Troy told me he was hoping to do devotions with the kids during Lent I gave him the side eye. 'M-Kay, Troy, good-luck-with-that', I sarcastically thought.  Later that same day I saw a packet of paper printed and ready to go.

Impressed with the speed at which he saw his plan through to the next step, I asked, "So how did you choose the devotions you printed for Lent?"

Troy said, "Well, it was very well researched and thought out in advance. I looked for the very shortest one I could find and picked that one."

There you have the exact formula for how to raise a houseful of spiritual giants 5foot 4inchers - and a crew that knows their need for grace better than most.

Set the bar low and then rock the knee-socks off of your Father in Heaven.

Last night we completed the fifth night of lent.

So far, because the lesson is about 5 to 8 minutes long with the discussion, we are batting 100 and five out of five  (longevity!) nights - we made it happen. Bam.

(insert apology for lack of Christ-like humility)

There are a couple of our kids at super weird-o stages right now and each night has been highly entertaining. Somehow we have a larger than normal dork-factor happening right now. For Phoebe especially, there is a need to be right, to offer an answer, and to use all the vernacular she knows while simultaneously gaining the attention of everyone in the circle.  All five nights she has randomly interjected "GOD!" "Lent" "Fruit of the Spirit!"  - and on occasion things like, "Machete" "People in the street", and other random thoughts at totally inappropriate times.

To clarify what she is doing, it would be like going to work tomorrow and when your boss asks you a question about anything at all, you just shout "Fruit of the Spirit!" and then smile with confidence over having offered any response at all to said question.  Last night Troy said, "we're not talking about the fruits of the spirit just yet, but I am practicing Patience right now".  The other four kids all understood the jab and laughed like little hyenas at their terribly hILarious Dad.  Phoebe waited a second, joined in the laughing and then said, "Why are we laughing again?"

I think I am really going to like the clowns in my Lent group, if nothing else, they will bring us all laughter and keep us praying without seizing.