Ten per cent of the Christian life is showing up; the other ninety per cent is what God accomplishes in and through us when we do. It’s just that our ten per cent can seem like ninety to me when it involves something I don’t want to do like confrontation.
Such an event occurred this weekend when Chandler and two of his friends disobeyed me and I had to confront them over it.
We have chosen to make part of our garage into a family room. (Hardly anyone in this part of Laguna has the luxury of using their garage for a car since most of these older homes are little one and two bedroom beach cottages – ours is approximately 900 square feet – and not intended for year round living. So most garages have been turned into something else.) Chandler’s room in the house has enough space for a bed only so when he has anyone sleep over, which is almost every weekend, they use the garage room, creating a challenging situation for us in that outside access to the street is possible without being detected by us in the house. We have had to make up a few house “rules” in order to manage this challenge.
- Any friends who stop by have to greet either me in my garage office or Marti in the house so that we know they are there.
- No one is allowed to leave the room on a sleepover after I or Marti has a a verbal acknowledgment that they are “in” for the night.
Knowing the temptation is great, Marti or I will usually make numerous trips to the garage to check things in my office or do the laundry.
So it was that this weekend, when two friends were sleeping over, I found them all gone after I had their word they were in for the night. Marti called and got them on a cell phone and told them to turn around and come right back, and I went out to the street and waited for the little prodigals, hating every minute of what I had to do next.
“We just wanted a snack,” said Chandler as they approached me.
“Well there’s a car right here and you have a very willing father who will take you just about anywhere within reason. If you had asked me, I would have been more than willing to take you.” (We have a 24-hour convenience store three blocks away.)
This was met by silence so I proceeded with one of Marti’s favorite tactics in these kinds of situations. “You know I have a number of options here. I could wake up your parents… I could take you both home… If the shoe was on the other foot – if you were me – what would you do?”
One of Chandler’s friends chimed in, “I would let it go this time but say that next time there would be a punishment.”
I smiled at his ingenuity and said that would be alright but there was something missing. That’s when I got “Sorry”s from everyone and the other guest embellished that with, “Sorry we broke your rule.”
At that my little antenna went up and I felt the Spirit of God taking over. This was definitely an old covenant situation that needed a new covenant perspective. The use of the naughty old covenant word “rule,” tipped me off. The next part did not come from me.
“No,” I said. “Breaking my rule is not the big deal here. The big deal is that you broke your word. Your word is much more valuable that my rule. It’s like gold. You guys want to be men of your word. You are better than this.”
When I told my wife this later, she was elated. This was a positive response to a negative situation. “That doesn’t even sound like you,” she said, knowing that my usual response to these situations is to play the cop and bring down the upper hand, a position I am losing rapidly to Chandler’s size.
“It wasn’t me,” I said. “I just showed up.”
Ten per cent of the Christian life is showing up; the other ninety per cent is what God accomplishes in and through us when we do.