Monday, March 29, 2010

The backside

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, and as is the tradition at our church, the men host an Ecumenical Men’s Palm Sunday Breakfast first thing in the morning, before anyone needs to be at church for anything else. This year, my husband and I were asked to be the speakers. After much thought, prayer, and discussion, we settled on the theme of “moving forward” in our faith walks. Christ Himself commands us to follow Him, and Paul and the author of Hebrews both use the metaphor of running a race to achieve the prize of Heaven. We said lots of good things like that.

Today, I have been reflecting on the truths God revealed to me as Dan and I gave our talk. For example, if you don’t move, God will probably move you. And that may not always be a pleasant process! But what is really swimming in my brain—so much so that I walked away from the dishes to type (I know that may shock some of you)—is the backside. (The backside of my strong, handsome husband was a pure joy to me as I listened to him describe the trials, heartaches, joys, and events from our lives to the group of men assembled in our small church. But Dan’s backside is not really my point today, no matter how much it is burned on my brain.) God’s backside is what I am really celebrating.

The backside of a long drive is where you reach your destination. The backside of an interaction is where we see our mistakes. The backside of a great date is where you do the most smiling. The backside of a trial is where we see the Hand of God most clearly.

Everyone reading this has suffered through at least one trial. Guaranteed. Everyone reading this has experienced one victory in their life. Guaranteed. Everyone reading this lives life, day in and day out, over and over, perhaps without much planning or perhaps with a mountain of planning. And at any given time, we are all just starting a journey, smack in the middle of another, and completing yet a third…or fourth…or tenth. Only God knows how they all work together.

He is already ahead of us, standing on the backside, waiting for our arrival.

Once upon a time, I was comfortable. My faith life was easy. Church was good. Marriage was good. Singing in the choir was good. It was all, well, good. So very plain and good. Until I realized I wanted “more”. More passion, more joy, more excitement when I heard the name Jesus uttered at church. My church was not the problem. I was. I wanted more. I knew there was more. I knew it. I wanted more of Christ. But I did not know how to get it. It was not until a nearby church hosted a two-day seminar on the Holy Spirit that I really allowed Christ to grab me, willingly, and do a BIG work in me. With fear and trembling, I accepted the invitation to go forward and be prayed over. With tears streaming down my cheeks and off my chin, I choked out the words, “I just want to feel it”. The six most powerful words I have ever uttered. I just want to feel it.

Today it is eight years and three kids later, and I "feel it" like I never knew possible. I have grown in only the way our Creater could have worked. I am journeying toward His backside and I can’t wait to see where He takes me!

I am so glad Christ has my backside.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Just a little taste of Heaven

I love to go camping. Sitting by the fire, watching the smoke rise and curl heavenward, relaxing with dirt under my fingernails and no real agenda…aah, that really does it for me. I may have even said once or twice, “This is Heavenly!” We all have places where we have felt like that; where the peace and beauty of the setting seems to wash the cares of life away for a time. Some may say it is at the beach, or on a mountainside, while gazing at a sunset, or even on a lawnmower. Our little “tastes of Heaven” are the beautiful places that bring us joy and peace of soul. As humans, we strive to seek out the beauty of this world and wonder, is that what Heaven will be like??

I, however, have truly found a taste of Heaven on this earth, and I call it Presbyterian Pilgrimage. The camp where we gathered for those three days was fairly brown and skies overcast, so to call it “beautiful” would be stretching the truth a bit. The bed in which I slept was comfortable but was not designed to pamper me like a spa would, so to claim it as purely “relaxing” would be a lie. My days were full of worship, communion, prayer, learning, laughing, eating, singing, praising, fellowship, and intentional community, so to claim that I had no real agenda or demands on my time would be wrong.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthy things. (Col. 2:3) Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. (Col. 2:5-6) “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ “(Rev. 21:3-5a)

In Pilgrimage, more than any other place before or to perhaps even to come, I have truly found that little piece of Heaven. It is a place where no one fights, no one lusts, no one condemns, no one is judged, no one slanders, and no one has any other gods. A place where everyone is accepted as God’s workmanship. Where everyone is loved. Where everyone can give praise and receive grace. A place where the presence of the Lord is literally tangible, and where His community is blessed. The physical beauty of the place—or of the participants, for that matter—does not affect the atmosphere of Pilgrimage. It is simply God’s community, designed by feeble humans, knit together by Him, for His glory; and at that place, even if for only three days, the “things of the world” pass away.

My mind cannot conceive the physical beauty of Heaven (it says so in 1st Corinth. 2:9), and therefore my desperately human attempts to compare it to campfire smoke, the ocean surf, the orange sunset, the mountain air, or the smell of cut grass, are, well, desperately HUMAN. My mind simply cannot conceive it. But we are assured in scripture that in Heaven, the old will have passed away, and with it all the heartache of this world.

Until Pilgrimage, that is something I could not conceive of either. Now I can.

To Him be all the glory.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In two years' time...

In two years' time, my friend Amanda went from being lonely to married and pregnant.

In two years' time, our youngest daughter was weaned, potty trained, and taken out of her crib.

In two years' time, we went from drowning to debt-free.

In two years' time, my husband was resurrected from a near-death collision and back to looking like it never happened.

In two years' time, the Lord has worked so hard on my husband that he is seeing himself in a whole new light.

In two years' time, the Lord has stirred a passion in me to break free from doubt, and earnestly seek a speaking ministry in His name. I'm still a little scared but oh so excited at the possibilities.

What else can God do in just two years time?? I can't wait to find out!