Longing for Lawn Chairs

Four child-sized plastic lawn chairs, one loveseat, and five adult-sized plastic chairs held a special place at Jolene’s next door neighbors’ ever since the summer when Henry, Marie, and family moved in with Henry’s mom, Grandma Susanna. Now that everyone in the family had three days off for Veteran’s Day, Jolene sighed.  Their lawn furniture would be full of family for the weekend. Her own patio chairs would be empty.

Though the outdoor furnishings were heavy-duty, color coordinated with thick cushions that made them comfortable as living room furniture, Jolene’s unpredictable work schedule and grown children far away meant her chairs were perches for the birds most of the time.

The neighbor’s lawn chairs themselves were not what she longed for. Jolene envied the relationships. The neighbors’ plastic furniture was often full of family members. Their laughter and barbequed burgers make everyone in the neighborhood smile.  Compared to Grandma Susanna’s where four generations shared experiences and closeness, Jolene’s home seemed empty.

Exodus 20 states God’s original commands to Moses and the people. In modern terms, it might read, “Thou shalt not covet your neighbor’s husband or significant other, vacuum cleaner or dishwasher, newer truck or car than yours, or anything that belongs to your neighbor–like his lawn chairs.”

Suddenly, Jolene remembered that Henry and Marie moved there because their dream home they’d spent years building had been taken by the bank. The four generations together were making the best of their world imploding. When the housing market crashed and Henry’s construction business slowed to a crawl, Henry and Marie lost their home.

These ancient guidelines in Exodus 20 give us the best tools for life. How can we apply them to our thinking, choices and actions?

Focusing on God and a relationship with him far exceeds focusing on lawn chairs.