By Ward Shope
It’s 4 o’clock on a Friday afternoon and Fae and I are closing up shop at the New Life office. “Have a good weekend, Fae. I’ll see you Sunday.” “Thanks”, she returns. “Do you have any plans?” “Not in particular,” I reply. “I think I’ll sit in my chair.” Fae chuckles with empathy. She knows what I mean because she’s said the same thing to me. Only her chair includes the addition of her dog laying in her lap.
I have a chair. We picked it up for $25 one Sunday as we were traveling home from church and spotted it on a street corner. It was begging to be part of my spiritual journey. Even Emma often uses it for her quiet time after I’ve warmed it up with a period of Bible reading and prayer in the morning. I’m not sure what my devotional life would be without it. When possible, I spend as much of my Sunday there as I can.
Everyone in my family understands that it’s my chair. It’s the most comfortable chair in the house judged by the amount of time people sit in it. Anyone is welcome to sit in my chair as long as they understand that should I have “need” of it, they “need” to move. My need may be for a number of purposes: reading, playing sudoku, listening to music, conversing with others who are near my chair, figuring out our finances, even work occasionally. The only constant about this recliner is that when my feet go up, it often pulls my eyelids closed. That’s when all the aforementioned purposes are placed in quotation marks, as in “reading”, “listening to music”, etc.
I absorb a lot of good-natured ribbing about my chair from my housemates. Yes, it isn’t much to look at. (It did only cost me $25.) And it probably does belong in the family room rather than the living room. But it is one of the simple pleasures I relish when I am home.
Sometimes I do worry about my relationship with it. What would I do without it? What if it broke up? What about all the lonely people in the world who don’t have chairs like mine? Where would my spiritual life thrive if my chair did not?
Of course, the previous paragraph was written tongue in cheek. But there is a real point here. For me, my chair is all about where I find my comfort – even in my spiritual life. I like the comfortable way my chair allows me to do my reading and praying. I can truly do “arm chair” religion from there. All the while, many believers in the world are not comfortable, may be fleeing persecution, and are being tested daily by their circumstances. And there are many people around me each day who struggle uncomfortably with life and need to hear the good news personally. If my chair is motivating me to find a comfortable way to love and serve Christ, then maybe I need to re-think and repent of making it more than it really is. It is a gracious gift from God. I give thanks for it. But it is only a gift from whose comfort I probably am asked to cheerfully and frequently leave for the sake of Christ’s Kingdom. After all, only in Jesus is there true comfort.
Now, while staying alert to Jesus’ call, I will thankfully put my feet up.