Monday, May 24, 2010

respect

I just returned from 4 days in the East, over half of that time spent with 149 other people. It is at times like this that I get to see those areas of my life that are not yet totally surrendered to love. The occasion was a church conference, pastors' gathering, visit with friends, and road trip all rolled into one, and a bit more intense than usual because I was assisting with registration and had a few added responsibilities. We had a great time worshipping God and hanging out with some pretty cool people, but by the end I was fatigued in body, mind, and spirit, and pretty tired of the constant stimulation that goes with the group dynamic. And that's when I began to focus on the lack of perfection around me.

This time I found myself becoming annoyed at the lack of respect that people exhibit. Excuse me while I let my petty grievances hang out for a bit. I was annoyed at people who don't respect the law: they think it's perfectly fine not to wear a seat belt, and they pick and choose which road signs they obey. I became annoyed at people who are late and the lack of respect they show for all the people who end up waiting for them. I was annoyed at children who don't listen to their parents and then at parents who let their kids disrespect them. I was annoyed at people who complain about things and the lack of respect they have for the efforts of others. And then I became annoyed at my own lack of grace and wondered if I was a hopeless legalist and perfectionist, unable to respect my fellow human beings and their respective journeys.

"What am I supposed to do with this annoyance?" I asked God. Do I just turn a blind eye to the blindness of others? Is it my responsibility to nudge people in the direction of respectful behaviour? Are we to let everyone do as they please? Wouldn't that result in chaos? And am I any less guilty, really? With my bucketful of annoyance, I came into the gathering of our faith community on Sunday night. And we sang to Jesus. And we talked to God. And we read stories where God interacted with people. And during the course of the evening a sense emerged of what it is like to encounter the holy God, the awe-inspiring Master, and the Lover and Creator and Just Judge who is so much greater than anything we have ever encountered. This is a Being who cannot be stuck in the same category as my interactions with friends and family. This is the most powerful Person in the universe; in fact, he is beyond the universe in every which way. And all too often I treat him and his carefully crafted purposes with a familiarity and disinterest that smack of arrogant disrespect. I pick and choose what invitations of his I respond to. I insist on running on my own timetable instead of adjusting my rhythm to his. I turn a deaf ear to his still, small voice and instead entertain myself with noisy distractions.
God, forgive my lack of respect in how I reduce you to something manageable, in how I make light of your words that carry more weight than I can fathom, and in how I take my own sweet time in responding to your presence every day.

Let me not forget what a peaceful place humility is. Let me not leave this sanctuary where my smallness is hemmed in by your greatness.
This is a picture of a sign asking people to respect the alligators and their environment in Florida.

1 comment:

Brianmpei said...

Sorry for being a jerk. Respect!