Thursday, March 24, 2011

Don-t STOP be-lieving

This past weekend I was blessed to share in Andrew and Megan’s wedding. It was a great celebration that left me with much more to think about than the pretty flowers and yummy cake. Love was openly expressed, honored, and remembered.
I could talk about…
…the intimate prayer time we shared with the bride on the eve of her wedding day
…when daughter and father first saw each other and hugged and cried
…how the groom looked upon his approaching bride and simply and softly spoke “You’re beautiful”
…the unscripted kiss on the check from the groom that could not wait to be told “You may kiss your bride”
…why the sound of Journey, the touch of Jon, and the sight Meg and Andrew together as one was a perfect ending
No, I will not get into the nitty-gritty-gonna-make-you-cry details. There are too many!! I will let the bride (who needs to reactivate her blog) do that.
I will however share a word that will describe an over-arching theme of their wedding. And, no it is not L word! It’s faithfulness. God’s faithfulness, his tenacity to make good on his promises, even though we are not all that good at keeping ours. It was encouraging to watch God answer so many prayers all in one day! Nothing beats watching a man and woman enter into the holy covenant of marriage. As Paul wrote, “This [marriage] is a huge mystery, and I don't pretend to understand it all.”
A wedding day [or other significant occasions] is hard to relinquish to a God that is not even mentioned on Yet due to the immense importance we naturally place on a wedding day it is a perfect opportunity understand with even more conviction that God is faithful. That is, if we advance him such authority. Getting to experience faithfulness requires trusting that God is sovereign. The more we give God to regulate the more opportunity there is to experience his faithfulness.
Allowing others to take responsibility for details that personally involve our deepest desires is hard. Allowing God such responsibility is even harder since trusting his very existence requires faith. But be encouraged, our Lord understands that wedding days are important. He is worthy of our trust. Don’t forget that his first miracle was at such an occasion. Yes, the first time the world experienced the power of God through the incarnate son was at a wedding!
I know the benefits that come from trusting God to work out the details of life that are closest to your heart. God has his finger on our pulse, if only let him have his way with such intimate knowing. Not a word of God’s mighty promises he gives to humanity falls to the wayside. Each promise is amazingly spoken and powerfully made alive.  God has promised to work all things out for good.
I was most excited for Megan and Andrew because I knew that they had entrusted much to God. I am thankful for that because, as I wrote, it affirmed that God is indeed faithful.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Connecting with a toilet, women, and God

Have you ever had an automatic toilet flush while you were still sitting on it? Within a few short seconds, I had this happen not once but twice to me. I went from never living through such an experience to all of a sudden being able to say “been there, done that!”

Praise God that the toilet malfunctioning was not the highlight of my time spent this past weekend at the women’s retreat. And, the toilet was not the only thing (or person) that I now share a connection with (humor me here!). It was a truly edifying experience. Together we sat at the foot of the cross swapping stories and scripture.

As I wrote on my Facebook wall, I was excited but also anxious about going on the retreat. I was excited because I knew it would be a wonderful way to disconnect from the world and plunge deeper into the word. I also deeply hoped that it would help me build relationships with women in my church. Yet, because I did not know anyone, I was also very anxious.

During the first session, a woman encouraged us to lay aside any expectations we had concerning the retreat (…you know, those outcomes that your flesh is hoping for). “What a wonderful encouragement,” I said to myself because I struggle in doing just that. I find myself pre-supposing (did I just make up a word?) something, which is extremely different than practicing discernment, and totally not healthy. Unfortunately it took me a while longer to act out “laying my expectations aside.” I spent the first night and morning wrapped up in stress. I dearly wanted to connect with women, and found myself deeply distraught because it was not happening. Then, the Lord told me, “Do not worry about connecting with them, give me authority over that. You need to worry about connecting with me.” And so, I did. The Lord is so patient, so comforting, and so worthy of trust. By the end of the retreat I had indeed connected with women and with him! I worry how unsatisfied I would be feeling had I not listened the lord. And how much I would have missed!

Lesson learned: To live according to our flesh we definitely need oxygen yet to live out our communion with Christ we most assuredly need community.

My flesh is not okay with making new friends. Sometimes I feel like it is in direct opposition of meeting new people. Yet, my flesh is taken care of by God. And until it fails me in its ability to breathe, I’m good to go, and free to take care of other pressing needs. God designed me for community. He wants to share me with others. He wants to love others through me (as the other way around too). Therefore, I must step out. I must decide to live. Going on the retreat and opening myself up to community, allowed for me to know Christ in a more intimate way.

Lesson learned: Deciding to live is not just doing what God would want you to do, but loving and trusting that God will take care of what you would rather be doing.

I love having friends, but not so much making friends. So for me, deciding to live is allowing God to pull me away from my comfortable corner. This weekend I was picked up from a lonely place, a corner that I had ordered myself to take up, and lovingly carried to a table that I always belonged to sit at. And there I sat, accepted, comforted, and loved. I sat next to women I barley knew and shared my battles, burdens, and blessings. I know God wants to share me with strangers, yet I would rather kick it back with old friends. Having a shared history with someone is the sweetest thing. Yet, I have thoroughly contemplated living with out community, and I know that it is not what God wants.

I hope you will learn from my lessons and struggles and know that God has a place for you in the body of Christ. He wants you not just to be his son/daughter but to be a brother/sister to his other children. Yet  its more than what he wants, its also what you need.

Related Scripture:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)