Every year, my zoo has a Halloween event we call Zoo Boo. There are always crazy decorations all over the place. Some are just Fall or harvest themed but others are spooky. One tradition is a display of painted pumpkins. Last year, they were painted by local children and they were adorable. This year, they decided to have the employees and their families paint them. Since I love crafts, I was excited about joining in. I was also excited to see the results, because one thing I’ve noticed is that zookeeping as a career seems to attract artsy people. Because we were painting on real pumpkins, the decorating had to be done close to the event. Unfortunately, the first week of October was rather busy for me. I had events at the zoo to prepare for as well as a trip home to visit family. I felt overwhelmed and decided that something just had to be left out of my schedule. Of course, the only thing that wasn’t major was the pumpkin painting. There just wasn’t going to be time to get it done. I was really disappointed. But the more I thought about it, and the more I was able to get done on the other projects, the more I thought, “You know, I promised I would participate, so if I don’t, I’m letting them down. And I really want to do this, so I’d be letting myself down. If only I could come up with a simpler design.” I had planned to do an elaborate Egyptian design. I love ancient Egyptian art. That love made me know that I would become quite the perfectionist in replicating it. This added to to pressure. Then one day, the perfect design just came to me: the flaming Eye of Sauron from “Lord of the Rings”! It was so much simpler and, because it was mostly fire, it was somewhat random and didn’t have to be perfect. That day, I picked up my pumpkin from the supply and got to work. It turned out that I didn’t take that much time, and it made the nerd in me so happy that it became a great stress relief.
We find it much easier to make time for the things we want to do. Shortly after I moved to this city, I was attending a very large church that had convenient service times that fit around my unconventional work week. The teaching was great and the people nice enough, but I found it hard to engage. Because the church is so large, people there usually form their bonds of fellowship with their smaller Sunday School groups, than with the congregation as a whole. Because I work on Sundays, I never got to go to the smaller groups. I was able to walk in to a service, sit there for the whole time and walk out, without ever speaking to anyone. While it was still good for me to be there for the teaching and focus on God, it was easy to think of attending church as a sort of habit or ritual rather than something spiritually important. It was easy to put off. I started making excuses for why I didn’t want to or couldn’t go. My attendance slipped. Then I found my personal devotional time disappearing. I hardly thought about God. I don’t remember exactly what got me back on track, but whatever it was, I’m sure God sent it into my life. Now I’m in a smaller church where I’m able to connect and feel a part the Body of Christ. God reminded me that He was important enough to make time for.
Jesus told a parable about people who made excuses and missed out on good things. It is found in Luke 14:16-24
“A man was giving a large banquet and invited many. At the time of the banquet, he sent his slave to tell those who were invited, ‘Come, because everything is now ready.’ But without exception they all began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. I ask you to excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m going to try them out. I ask you to excuse me.’ And another said, ‘I just got married, and therefore I’m unable to come.’ So the slave came back and reported these things to his master. Then in anger, the master of the house told his slave, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in here the poor, maimed, blind and lame!’ ‘Master,’ the slave said, ‘what you ordered has been done, and there’s still room.’ Then the master told the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and lanes and make them come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will enjoy my banquet!'”
God calls us all into His house and so often we give Him excuses. Most of the excuses I used were as lame as the ones people in that story gave. Because they didn’t want to go, they didn’t make time for it, and they missed out on all the good things the master had prepared just for them. Sometimes I wonder what God has prepared that I missed out on because I didn’t make time for Him.