When I was young and someone came to the door unexpectedly while my mum was in her 'around-the-house-clothes', before answering the door she would check with me, 'Am I presentable?'.
Now I have my own house, I like to be presentable before I receive guests too. I don't like feeling scruffy in front of other people, but with two children under the age of 3, there's no point in wearing nice clothes at home because they only get covered in baby food, play dough, paint, and other sticky things!
As with my physical body, so it is with my spiritual self too. I like to feel presentable on the inside before I open the door to God. If I had guests coming to my home for the evening I would at least take a moment to put a clean shirt on and brush my hair. But in the middle of the day with the constant demands of the children there's no time to have an internal clean-up to have an audience with Holy God, so I tend to avoid Him.
While preparing dinner the other day I was listening to a worship song. The words 'surrender to His embrace' stuck out at me. I wondered why. Thinking about it, I realised that I would like to feel presentable before receiving the Lord's embrace, but I rarely feel 'presentable' to answer the door to the Lord so I keep Him waiting until I have the time to clean myself up a bit. It came to me that because I have chosen to be a full-time mum, I am not going to get the time in the near future to have the internal spring clean I feel I need in order to feel comfortable in His presence. As I cannot make time to prepare myself for Him by clothing myself in quietness and giving Him the attention He deserves, through the words of the song, I felt the Lord tell me that my only alternative is to fall into His arms in all my chaos, mess, disarray, stress, and tiredness... and surrender.
It makes me feel incredibly vulnerable to step off the treadmill and drop all my coping and working and determinedness-to-keep-going in order to sink into His arms. I find it hard to let go, hard to let Him in to the constant feeling I have of being one step behind in life. Its as if I spend my life trying to make myself presentable for God, but I never feel I 'arrive'. I want to have a clean house, well-behaved children, a satisfied husband, an outward-looking social life, faith that moves mountains, and a committed prayer life too! If I had all that then I could open the door to my spotless internal self at any time and say 'welcome' to the Lord without cringing at the mess!
But life isn't like that. Who can live up to that? And besides, who says God is on the outside waiting for an invite into a glamourous home? Maybe God would just like to sit down and have a chat and maybe He doesn't care if there is a big orange juice stain in the middle of the lounge carpet (and there is in my house but that's another story)! Maybe God just wants to help?
'As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10 v 38-42.
Sitting at Jesus' feet doesn't just mean taking time out for a Bible study, or a retreat, or a conference; it applies to our hearts on a daily basis. I'm learning to come to Him in the midst my mess, and I feel much better for it!