A friend told me that our local library had a machine that dispensed plastic capsules that held pieces of art. This I had to see.
The machine was a bit hard to find – smaller than expected and somewhat low-key, but sure enough, for fifty cents, it promised a piece of art. Immediately, I remembered those rare childhood moments when my mom hesitated outside a store by the display of toy dispensers and fished out a few coins for my siblings and me.
I slip each quarter into its slot and turn the handle to the accompaniment of those familiar clicks. The prize descends and hits the metal flap with a decisive clink! I remove it and wonder what I’ll find inside.
Recently, I read an account C.S. Lewis tells in his book A Grief Observed. He describes a day when his wife, Joy, sensed that God was “at her elbow,” nudging her to give attention to him. She put it off, thinking that God intended to question her about some sin or undone obligation. Then, Lewis writes:
At last she gave in—I know how one puts it off—and faced Him. But the message was, ‘I want to give you something’ and instantly she entered into joy.
It struck me how profound this is. And how sadly true it is in my life. I know that feeling – the persistent nudge of the Spirit (Lewis uses the interesting word haunted) and my underlying assumption of impending duty.
What joys I’m missing!
It reminds me of the parable Jesus told:
Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses.” (Luke 14:16-18)
Like Jesus knocking on the door of Rev. 3:20, the goal is celebration, fellowship, blessing and the joy of being with the inviter. This is not a summons to court.
When I unfold my dispensed art, I’m disappointed. It’s merely color copy with an ad on the back. It doesn’t even mention the artist or the name of the painting.
I suppose I had an unrealistic expectation that it would be something hand-drawn. Personal. A connection to another artist.
Yet this is exactly what Jesus intends when I open his word. He doesn’t want just to give me a truth manufactured for the masses. He wants to give me himself. It’s personal.
As are all the moments throughout the day, when he taps me on the shoulder to get my attention.
To see the setting sun light up my back yard. To notice someone who needs prayer. To hear the Spirit’s reminders.
All of them are gifts – ways to enter into the joy of fellowship with him.
Jesus, forgive us for the times we feel you ‘at our elbow’ and we put you off. Forgive us for missing those opportunities to enjoy your presence. We want to sit at your banquet every day.
Reader: when did you recently feel his nudge and enter into joy?