Saturday, February 21, 2009

His Reward

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     Monday morning. Slick streets and snow to keep us home. The three-year-old has a wet bed. The one-year-old is getting into everything. Too many messes this morning. Too many kids in time-out.
     I begin to cast about in frustration. What am I doing wrong? If only I work harder, can I have a perfect house? Perfect children? Perfect marriage? Lord, what do You want from me?
     I see the world passing me by out the window. So many of my friends are moving on, getting jobs, going back to school, changing themselves… And here I am—snowbound at home with three children, frayed around the edges.  Oh Lord, what do I need to do to please You? To have an organized home? To make my children stop squabbling? To make my husband happy? ‘What must I do to be saved’?
     And then Jesus comes by. I hadn’t expected Him. But there He is, grinning at my door.
     “May I come in, Phebe?”
      Such a gentleman, I think, rushing to wipe the crumbs off the table and straighten my hair.
     “Oh Lord,” I apologize, letting Him in, “I’m sorry the house isn’t as clean as You’d like. I’m sorry I’m not as pulled-together as I should be. I’m sorry school is going slowly this morning.”
     He just smiles and I wonder if He’s heard a word I just said. He plops down on my couch and lets out a huge sigh.
     “I’m beat and frozen to the bone! Do you have anything hot to drink?”
     “Oh yes! Just a minute!”
     I hurry to boil water and pour the tea. In the other room I hear Jesus reading a story to the girls. They laugh aloud as His voice imitates a horse and then a duck. I reach for the communion cup for Jesus’ tea. But this morning is just…and my home is so not holy…and Jesus is lying on my couch for pete’s sake. I grab a Mickey Mouse mug and pour His tea.
     He sips it loudly and sighs.
     “Thanks, daughter! That hits the spot.”
     I sit down carefully beside Him and look around at the rumpled couch covers, the puddles of water on the floor where the seven-year-old and the three-year-old have been washing dishes. If only I’d known He’d be here! I could have made everything so much more God-worthy.
     “So, where were You going this morning? I mean, when You were cold and tired and stopped by my little place?”
     I think of all the places Jesus must have to be today—politically-decisive moments, crusade meetings, church outreaches, homes tidier and holier than mine…
He says the word so quietly that I wonder whether I heard Him right or not. Home where? Heaven?
     “Where is home…Sir?” I ask awkwardly. After all, how do you address the King of Glory who has one foot propped up on your coffee table?
     “Here, of course.”
     “I…I thought Your home was in heaven?”
     “’Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat—or have tea—with her, and she with Me.’”
     It makes me laugh to hear Him quoting Himself. He laughs too.
     “But Lord,” I say, “But Lord…”
     And I look at myself—so imperfect, so many sins, falling so far short of His holiness.
Who am I, Lord?
     He reaches out for my hand—and His is so scarred. Grace
     “But Lord, when You came by… Well, we were only washing dishes, and learning what starts with ‘A’ , and practicing the piano, and…and…”
     I burst into tears. How can I tell Him, ‘You’ve got the wrong house, God. You want the church down the road. But please stay. I need You here so much’?
     He reads my thoughts.
     “But I came here. And you didn’t rush off or ignore Me. You opened the door and let Me in where there’s warmth and love and peace and children—My children. I love coming here. It’s home.”
     And when His eyes look around, they don’t seem to see the fingerprints on the windows or the sins in my heart.
     “May I stay? Live here?”
     “Oh please do, Sir!” I say quickly, but fear springs up inside.
     “What is it, daughter?” His eyes are searching my heart.
     “But, Lord, what about tomorrow when I oversleep and don’t have devotions? What about when I eat too much for dinner, or forget to pray? What if I yell at the kids and You’re here? You don’t really want to be here for all the dirty diapers and math problems and runny noses, do You? Don’t You have more important things to do?”
     “No, I don’t.”
     A smile slowly spreads across His face at my look of bewilderment.
     “I died so that I could be in relationship with you, with your husband, with your children—excuse Me—My children.”
     His eyes grow serious again. I look down. There are those scars again.
     “I would consider it an honor to wipe runny noses and change dirty diapers with you, to teach My children, to disciple you and forgive you a million times a day. It’s what I long to do. Let Me in. Let Me stay. Please give me the reward of My suffering.”
     And then…no words…only grace… Incredible, amazing grace!
     I kiss those scarred hands and I beg Him to stay forever and ever.
     And now I know that tomorrow I’ll be horrible, but Jesus will forgive me. He will be there to slowly soften my heart, and I’ll grow and bloom in the warmth of His love.
     He’ll be here every day with me, caring for immortal souls of children and cleaning up messes like He cleans up hearts—one day and one amazing moment at a time. Yes, Jesus will be here—knee-deep in our need and helplessness and heart-yearning for Him. And He’ll be grinning because the longing of His heart is being satisfied—we are the reward of His suffering!

By, Phebe Sistoso
January 12, 2009


JillY said...

WOMAN! How long were you going to hide this blog from me??? YOu are a wonderfully uplifting writer. May I add you to my blog roll?? That way I can know as soon as you post!

Sneaky You!

Sister Warrior said...

Hello, Mrs. Sistoso! This is Catey the Homeschooled Writer.

Let me say that you are brilliant and an amazing writer. I want to write shorts like that....

Great blog! I can't wait to see more writing as you continue to update.

Sparks of illumination,

Phebe said...

Of course you can add me to your blog roll, Jill! Cool! Someone has me on their blog roll...

I didn't tell you about the blog because I wasn't blogging. This blog seemed like a good idea last summer, but I was actually about to shut it down because I just don't have time to do a whole lot with it. Then I started trying to write a little again... So we'll see where it goes...

Thanks Catey! I haven't written much of anything since the kids were born, but have started again lately... I sure did enjoy your short story (published by Patrick Henry (?) College). Keep up the great work!