Friday, October 10, 2008

Really really delayed gratification

I may have stumbled upon a wee bit of a breakthrough for myself. (Brace yourself: this is likely not earth shattering. I just tend to be a bit of a slow study.)

Matthew 6:1-6 is no fun to read. It just isn't. Do you know what it says? Not off hand? Okay, I'll copy it here for you.

Mat 6:1 "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
Mat 6:2 "Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
Mat 6:3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
Mat 6:4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Mat 6:5 "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
Mat 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

See, I bold-ed all the bits that apply to my "revelation" this week. (I'm getting *so* good with my computer skills).

I am realizing that I don't want to wait for the Heavenly reward. I don't want to have delayed gratification of that extent.

Some Sundays I feel like I've really done my best to be hearing the Lord and serving Him in song with His strength and for His glory and I don't hear any feedback. No big deal. I'm working on having faith that so long as no one has kicked me off the team or written to the elders about me that I'm probably okay. I can wait for my 'reward of affirmation' until I see my name on the rotation again next time. I can wait three weeks for that reward.

And sure I may not get a lot of thank you's from my kids some days, but in 15 years when they are having their own kids I know they will come to me with a "Wow Mom. You were amazing to me growing up. I see that now." Okay. I can wait 15 years for that reward.

But there are myriad times that I am doing something, saying something, trying something, that I think deserves a reward RIGHT NOW and I get a big fat nothing. Now see technically I should be okay with that. I should say "That's okay. The Lord who sees in secret will reward me. If I had a reward now, I would have my reward in full and I want the Heavenly blessing more than the temporal blessing so PLEASE DON'T NOTICE ME!!! Just ignore this martyr of a woman here, serving in silence. Don't even toss a grin of acknowledgement my way because I want the reward in Heaven."

But I don't say that. I also don't say "Hey look at me! I'm AWESOME! Somebody pat me on the back!"

Nope. I reward myself.

With a new magazine.

With a cup of tea on the couch.

With another 30 minutes in front of the computer.

With a chocolate bar at the grocery store.

With any food, really, that looks even remotely appealing in my pantry.

With any little 'extra' that I think I deserve to make up for my "great sacrifice".

How disgusting! Really. How pathetic and useless. I'm no better than the fool Esau trading in his birthright for a stinkin' bowl of soup! I am trading in the reward my Father wants to give me for some secret, stolen Snickers bar. Am I that Stupid? How will I feel on that day when I stand before my God and He shows me the treasure I might have found in Him, in this world and the next, had I not thrown my self into these trifling pleasures?

Oh Lord, I cannot see my screen for the tears in my eyes. Don't let me waste this life! Don't let me waste this good work I am actually doing by tainting it with this self-indulgent, "you owe me", "aren't you impressed with me" attitude. This is no sacrifice of praise. This is no offering of true worship. This is self worship.

I can only imagine that my ability to serve You, and joy in serving You, will increase as this rotten motivation decreases. Help me to focus on Your reward for me, and Your joy in me. Give me a heart to legitimately serve You without "trumpets".

Forgive me Lord. May this be a day of new beginnings. I want to wait for Your reward. I want to not reward myself. I will wait. I will wait. I will wait. And in the waiting is part of the reward, yes? Finding the ability to wait, (joyfully, patiently) is part of the reward.

So back to you: How do you reward yourself? What do you choose as a reward over what the Lord is holding out to You? What are you willing to trade your Birthright for? Surely I'm not the only one....will you join me in learning to work without reward in the short term? Will you learn to love really, really delayed gratification with me?


Barbara said...

Did you really steal a snickers bar? We have to talk!

Love you lots...I think you're the best wife in the whole world!


Deanna said...

This may sound silly, but I feel like your writings are an answer to my prayer. I've been feeling completely self-absorbed, depressed, worried, and anxious for the past few months (okay, maybe longer :D) and...well, I really love your little revelations. I have them all the time too! Things you feel like must be really obvious to the entire world, but you're somehow just stumbling upon it. And I have never thought about our Heavenly reward this way. I do the same things you do, grant myself some small nicety if I feel I somehow deserve it. And we don't! We totally don't! How the heck do you wait for long term gratification? Where does change begin? When can it start? Can I really change who I've been my entire life?

And I guess the answer is no. But God can, if I willing to live for Him. Am I? Everything seems a question. But thank you for your thoughts! Sometimes you feel like the only screw up on the block, you know, which is silly, so it's really good to read about someone else's struggles and realizations.