“I don’t do home parties.” It has become the kick bucket response that is offered to anyone, anytime I can even feel the hint of suggestion. The subject is dropped. Mission accomplished.
I remember how it all started, a subtle invitation to “get together” with a group of women on a Sunday afternoon. “Like a party?” I asked naively. “Exactly like a party!” stated my over-enthused inviter, sensing with each word that she was reeling me in. There was going to be food, fun and even though there would be a variety of products shown that we could order, there was absolutely no obligation to do so- dramatic emphasis on the “no”.
The Sunday afternoon arrived and did not leave me disappointed. There were several women that I knew, the food looked yummy and her home was so nicely decorated that it felt just like a casual, friendly gathering.
Soon, however, our fellowship was stifled with a “quiet down please” and our host took center stage. The next hour ticked away as we, the audience, oohed and ahhed over the various items that she held up, displayed and demonstrated. I played along too; I mean really, after hearing her spiel and seeing how she used that, I was in awe myself of how I had ever lived without one.
With the passing out of order forms, a somber hush fell over the room. I stared at the women who in unison transformed from Chatty Cathys to serious studiers of the information before them. A furrowed eyebrow, page turning, decision making, check writing frenzy ensued.
In the midst of the controlled chaos I was startled by a cheerfully interjected …“If you book a party with me for next month, I will take 20% off of today’s order.” Heads popped up, wheels began to spin, calendars fell open and women began making deals. “If I book a party next month would you come to it?” By the time all was said and done three additional parties were booked and somehow I had managed to agree to attend each of them.
For the next three years I was caught up in the whirlwind of home party madness. My friends and I were in a season of life where we had small children and were trying to find a way to help our desire to stay home with our little ones less of a financial hardship. Candles, makeup, kitchen utensils, children’s books, Tupperware, jewelry, and even chocolate were among the different home parties that I had the …um… pleasure of attending.
I went when I didn’t want to and spent money that I didn’t have on things that I really didn’t need for one simple reason. I felt Obligated. I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, let anyone down, or make anyone mad.
Obligation breeds resentment and steals joy.
There have been times when I have found myself responding to the Word of God in the same way I responded to those home parties. Guilt, obligation and fear of disappointment have plagued me at times when I fail to read God’s Word as faithfully as I know that I should.
What is important to remember in these times is that the Lord does not encourage us to read His Word for His sake. The Word of God is our very lifeline and the opportunity to read it should be viewed as a privilege, not an obligation. Making God’s Word a priority within our lives is choosing to actively receive His most precious gift to us.
Father, thank you for your Word. Help me to always maintain a perspective of privilege and not an outlook of obligation when it comes to receiving it into my heart.