Tuesday, April 26, 2005

THE OPEN DOOR

The Open Door
by Janice Price

There was a moment of panic when I walked into the living room. Crystal, the oldest male cat, was sitting on the wrong side of the front screen door. Obviously, I had locked but not properly closed the door after I accepted a package from the Federal Express delivery man.

The door was ajar and Crystal was turning his head slowly back and forth, looking past the front porch steps and then back into the house. He has been a house cat for all but the first few weeks of his life, and although he is the top cat inside, his outdoor survival skills have dulled after six years of his food being served in a bowl. Also, he wasn’t wearing a collar with his rabies tag attached, so he would be fair game for an Animal Control Officer to pick him up as a stray if he wandered off to see the outside world.

While Crystal’s head was still turning slowly from the porch steps to inside the house as he contemplated which direction to go, I calmly walked over and brought him inside. He accepted this without a fuss, content to have the decision made for him.

The moment of panic turned into a smile as I thought of how we all have to make decisions at open doors at various times in life. When we are young, our parents watch over us and make decisions for us, assuming the role of protector and conscience, but their goal should be to teach us to make responsible decisions on our own.

One of your classmates offers you a cigarette. You know it’s addictive and bad for your health. The door is ajar. Do you light the cigarette or do you say, “No, thanks.”

Well, you made the wrong choice that time. Now you are a new parent. You know second-hand smoke is unhealthy for your baby. The door is ajar again. Will you make the right choice this time?

You take your first drink and then a second. Now your drinking is tearing apart your family and interfering with your ability to do your job. The door is ajar. Will you continue in denial of your problem or will you take that first step to get help?

Your email box fills with spam messages daily. Many of the messages have lewd titles in the subject lines. Are you going to delete all of the messages without opening any of them? The door is ajar to temptation. Which side of the door will you choose?

Are you a drug addict, a wife beater, a child or elder abuser, a chronic liar, hard-hearted and unforgiving, an adulterer, a slacker, a workaholic, or a – (fill in the blank)? If so, you have stood at the open door and made wrong choices that have affected your own life and the lives of those around you. Perhaps you are reaping the physical consequences of your actions: you are serving a prison sentence, your mate has left you, your children or your entire family have cut you out of their lives.

God does not take sin lightly, yet He has made provision for repentance, forgiveness and newness of life. We all make numerous choices, some good and some we would prefer to forget. Some we can never forget because repentance and forgiveness of sin does not pay the physical death penalty for a murderer or pay the physical debt to society for another crime. We can’t undo any physical, mental or emotional damage we have inflicted on others either.

In Revelation 3:20, Christ says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, “I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

I scooped up Crystal while he was still debating which side of the open door he wanted to be on and trying to work up the courage to explore the unknown. I’m past the point where someone else can make decisions for me. I have to make my own decisions and take responsibility for them.

I make a lot of mistakes and it might be hard for others to tell sometimes, but I know which side of the open door I want to be on - the same side as Jesus. What about you?

© 2005 Janice Price
mercyandpercy@yahoo.com
www.mercyandpercy.com

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

HAND CHEWING, HAIR PLUCKING AND TOY SQUEAKING

Hand Chewing, Hair Plucking and Toy Squeaking
by Janice Price

Each year it becomes harder to kneel down for any reason, so I do it as infrequently as possible. But sometimes I really want to kneel while I’m praying and so I kneel beside my bed for some private time with God.

I didn’t say alone time with God. That is impossible around here.

As soon as I kneel down, my big puppy, Buddy, will come lumbering into the room and climb onto the bed to chew on my hand for attention. The he will climb down and return with a squeaky toy, which he will proceed to squeak right next to my ear.

One of the cats will walk back and forth brushing against my face. Cyndi will purr in my ear and pluck hairs from my head. Each vies for the position closest to me.

No, it isn’t possible to be alone around here, but as annoying as it can be at times, it’s nice to know I’m surrounded by love. The animals enjoy my company and want to be near me as much as possible. I enjoy their company too.

Humans are just as competitive. I don’t know of anyone who resorts to hand chewing, hair plucking or toy squeaking, but we do compete to be the center of attention all the time. We want to be the best friend, the most popular student or the favorite child, the best writer or the award-winning whatever.

God does not compete for attention. He doesn’t have an inferiority complex. He knows who he is and that there is none who can surpass him in any category – except in sin. God is incapable of sin. But he is the most powerful, has all wisdom and knowledge, judges with truth and mercy, sits on the highest throne, and commands respect as the creator and sustainer of life.

If we love God we will want to be near him. The amazing thing is that we can spend as much time as we want to with him. He doesn’t take sick days or long vacations and he doesn’t disconnect his answering machine for self-time. He is faithful and always available.

We can pray and read the Bible, attend church and various religious socials or classes and become complacent in these times with him. But if we truly love him, we will want to be near him as much as possible and to spend quality time with him.

Christianity is not to be a part of our lives, neatly compartmentalized and separated from home, career, family and social engagements. Christianity is a way of life, a 24/7/365 deal. It isn’t always easy either. There will be sins, repentance, necessary correction and even pruning to deal with. Christians are not always popular and persecutions can arise.

We can learn from our young children and our pets. They don’t just vocalize their affection; they show it. They seek and enjoy our company. They want to be near us and have our undivided attention.

Are we committed to obeying God’s commands to love him above all else and to love others as we love ourselves? Are we spending quality time with him or merely reading a lot of books about him? Do we give him our undivided attention or do we want him to lavish his undivided attention on us?

It is one thing to say, “God, I love you,” but we should also show it by the way we live our lives. We should make God the center of our lives, train our thoughts on him and keep the lines of communication open.

I am thankful our time together does not always need to be formal or spent on my knees. I can pray anywhere I happen to be at any hour or the day or night. I can also grab a favorite beverage – a cup of hot coffee or tea, hot chocolate, iced tea, water, or any beverage of choice - and curl up in a favorite chair to visit with him, even at three a.m. on a lonely night.

If you are experiencing a lonely night, and your hand chewing, hair plucking, toy squeaking children and pets are sleeping, grab a cup of tea, curl up in your favorite chair, and spend some private time with God.

© 2005 Janice Price
mercyandpercy@yahoo.com
www.mercyandpercy.com