Sunday, October 20, 2013

Go There...Yes...There

For "church people":

Comfort. Safety. Belonging.
These three things may be getting in my way. I still want them and can have them, but they need to drop down a notch on the priority list. This whole 40 something experience has me looking at life a little differently. The older you get, the more you realize that life is never as "fun" as you imagine it to be, personal accomplishments don't satisfy for long and you cannot live entirely for your children. My purpose and passion in life is to know God more and to share Him with others, so they can have true joy...forever. Those 3, previously mentioned addictions sometimes distract me from my purpose, and steal abundant life. Those three things are second prize. I've never been one to be content with second prize. I wonder what first prize would feel like?

Jesus was radical. He was always kind, always holy, but always doing things a little out of the ordinary for the church. His passion for His Father and for people...hurting, misguided people...fueled His life, His days and His weekends. He didn't waste any of His 33 years by sitting comfortably in the synagogue or at Peter's house watching Kendrick movies (which I love) for too long. He went to the uncomfortable places. The placed where He didn't fit in. He sacrificed His pleasure and comfort in order to be with, get to know and love however He could, people unlike Himself. I must say however, if you are not at all uncomfortable in placed void of Jesus, then you might want to spend a little more time at the synagogue or Peter's house...before you go there.

I fear criticism. I fear mocking. If I do as Christ did, I will likely receive both from opposite sides of the Jr.High School playground. Or maybe I won't. Maybe people will see Christ in me, preserving my integrity and using me in a way that makes earthly things dim. Maybe I will find that first prize. That experience of making an eternal difference in someone's life. Not just providing someone with  momentary relief from earthly woes, adding friends to my facebook page or receiving honor among men, but being there with God's Word at that moment when another wanderer reaches for Jesus and his life is transformed forever. Knowing the angels in Heaven are rejoicing, Jesus is crying joy and God is reunited with another of His children. To be part of that party. Indescribable. 

I've always loved people. I care deeply for my close friends and the woman in the car beside me at the red light, with perfect hair and a coffee, who seems stressed. I wonder if she knows Him? Boy, that would really help her. Now that I love God more than ever, there is a very passionate desire in me to see the two of them get together. I guess I'm a match maker. It is really no direct benefit to me, I just love romance and happy endings. 

I need to get out there...where the hurting people are...even if it is uncomfortable and dangerous. I need to teach my kids how to love that way too. Jesus did it and commanded us to do the same...trusting Him to protect us. Yes, we might...likely will, get hurt or even damaged, but everything good costs something. He knows what it will cost us and won't let us pay a cent more than necessary. He will not lose one of His own. Love people radically. Love God completely and forget about yourself.

 Fist prize.

Abundant life.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Joy Again

This could be the first chapter of a very long story. It's a love story. A story of God's love overcoming adversity, reconstructing a broken life and most of us warm blooded women love...a tall, dark and handsome romance becoming a reality. I almost hesitate to begin writing for doubt that it's really happening.

For the past 9 1/2 years I have been walking very closely beside my sister-in-law  as she tried to rebuild her broken heart and broken family. God obviously sent her to us at this fragile time in her life. With all of our hesitations, fears and lack of understanding, we believed we were following God's leading. We poured ourselves over the scriptures, lived in a constant state of prayer and took careful note of experiences that seemed to be God directing. With all of the seemingly obvious direction from God, we still had doubt. Nagging, chronic, unsettling doubt. Doubt that kept us in the boat, hesitant to step out and take His gentle hand and overcome the dark waves.

Her relationship with her Savior grew stronger and became the love of her life. Still, it seemed Mr.Magnum had some divinely placed position in her future...but nothing ever became a reality. Year after year passed. Many people saw what we were seeing, but not a word was spoken about it. An unspoken understanding. A promise under the Christmas tree, reserved for that special day, only to be dreamed of and anticipated. It was unusual and unconventional. Today, people jump into love, act on feelings and leave caution to the wind and then call it "really living". As much as this passionate romantic wanted to encourage that philosophy, I could see the wisdom of experience and trusting God's Word to enter into love His way. So, we waited...and waited...and waited...

You learn to worship while you wait. That's what makes the living abundant. Committing yourself to living firstly for Jesus, then for other people. Amidst differing opinions, wishing the past could have been different and fear of looking like you are doing something just trust His Word and obey. People talked. People assumed. People thought the worst of them...but God knew and they knew that they were being faithful to His leading by waiting for God's "go-ahead". The wait had been long, but necessary to prepare them both for what God had in store. I can only hope that I would be so patient and self-controlled in such a situation.

The joy and assurance in the air is full. The wedding bells play the song of a fulfilled promise. The preparations are a little surreal. It's one week away. A day ordained by God and set aside to proclaim His faithfulness and redeeming power. It will be a worship service, prayerfully, reflecting God's love for His bride the Church and a testament to His faithfulness and living power.

God's simple promise to her:

"There will be joy again."