Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Wedding Weekend!

          There are hymns that I tend to sing at various stages of my life. After high school it was, Great Is Thy Faithfulness. After Word of Life it was, Blessed Assurance. Now, for some reason, it is Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Is it because my heart is longing for blessings more than it ever has- because the biggest blessing has been taken? For those of you who don't know it, the lyrics are...

Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise

Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the Mount I'm fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love

Here I raise my Ebeneezer
Hither by Thy help I come
And I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home

Jesus, sought me when a stranger
Wondering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

Oh to grace, how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be
Let Thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above

         About three weeks ago we packed our bags for a weekend and headed west. My girlfriend had surprised me by showing up to my brothers wedding a couple years ago and I was super excited to return the favor! The surprise went off wonderfully and her sister was so honored in our coming! I was not prepared for the Lord to speak to ME or my parents. I was there to help out with the wedding, to be the "single" friend that provides fellowship when siblings depart.
         But... the Lord puts you in places when your heart is ready and tender and uses instances to speak to you. The wedding ceremony was that place and time. The tears started as the father prayed before releasing her to her husband, I was in awe of the woman standing there. She who lives a life of such purity before the Lord. Not physical purity, though I have no doubts about that, but a SPIRITUAL purity- who has sought Him with her whole life. The ceremony continued- beautiful vows, a lesson on marriage, two candles united. They were presented as a married couple and then we sang. 
         We sang three songs- the view was entirely on the Lord and not the couple. That's when it hit me-hard. Here was a marriage and Christ calls us his beloved. He wants the bond of a marriage with us. He wants an intimacy in what I share with Him and a listening heart. And there was a break in my hard heart. For God's Word has had no appeal to me for quite some time. God had spoken through music and people and thoughts, yet I had pushed aside the Book He wrote for me. I had despised it. The song said, "You've always loved me before I'd even heard, and called me while I despised Your every word." I felt like the harlot that Hosea was commanded to love. Yet it was God loving me. And it was sung, "My heart owns none above You, for Your rich grace I thirst." And I realized I was thirsty again. Thirsty for God, my Kinsman Redeemer. And ready to start healing. Though healing was not present in Amy's life, it needs to start in mine. 
        The rest of the weekend was so refreshing spiritually. A young adult class that was studying Philippians- a book I had dwelt on daily in my last semester of college. And a hymn-sing that included the one I mentioned above.

Two lovely ladies I am honored to know!

       Now, a few weeks later life has taken some hard turns. Emotional healing will be slow and painful- just like physical healing. Sometimes it won't be fun. I am glad to have my family around me. I am glad for the prayers of friends. I am glad for the Lord, who's encouraging Word is there- ready for me. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Of "ministry" and "worship"

About two months ago I wrote the following...
     "Those who know me well know that when they ask me how I'm doing I will say "good" every time. If I'm having a particularly hard day I'll say "okay." I don't open up unless I'm pried open- like a can needing to be punctured first. Lately I haven't known what to think- kinda like a diabetic shock, going through life in a haze. Planting, weeding, watering, watching Alias with my Mom, reading books, going through work with a fake smile plastered on my face.
     But now I'm tired. I'm tired of hiding it all in, tired of acting like I'm okay. My sister is gone and NOTHING is the same. And life hurts and we argue and make a big deal about stuff that doesn't matter in eternity. Not one family in this world is perfect. Not one life. There is sin everywhere and I'm tired of people making a big deal out of some sin and not others. Can't we just be honest and stop with the secrets? Why can't we accept that we will NEVER attain perfection? I will never be good enough to meet my own standards, much less anyone else's. And I should never require perfection from another."
    Since then, I have thought over these feelings more. I had a friend come and visit me for a few days. This action of love forced me to go through my belongings I had acquired since the passing of my sister and grandfather. Tears came, but I picked myself up and knew I was going to have a good time with her and revisit the past and talk of the future. She was one of my first roommates in college and picking up a relationship seven years later I thought would be hard, but personalities rarely change and it was like we had shared our lives with each other all along. What a comfort her visit brought! And my hazy existence turned a page to what lies ahead. 
    Lately I've been thinking about the terms "ministry" and "worship". Personally, I think they coincide with one another. I was asked a while ago what my summer ministry would be this year and I was flabbergasted at the question. I was upset and it took me some time to realize why. Several years ago my mother taught me a very valuable lesson about "ministry" and "worship". Sometimes caring for Amy was very hard on my mother. It was redundant and she would be drained emotionally and physically at times. But, at some point, she took these emotions to the Lord and one day she shared with me that our loving God had shown her that caring for Amy was HER worship of HIM. Every diaper, spoonful of food, wheelchair restriction was her ministry to the Lord. And I saw a change from that point on. THIS is why I get upset when asked about ministry. Ministry is not just the various church activities we are involved in. God is glorified in our normal everyday things- it is the life He has put before us. And God knows the outcomes of our lives. I'm not saying that outreach or singing in church aren't necessary, just that God is glorified just as much, if not more with what we give him every day.
     And sometimes life sucks and I have to pull myself up off the ground and look. Look to see what He has put in place for me to worship Him through. Amy knew this lesson. She worshiped Him through every trial put her way with a smile on her face- you could see the joy in her heart! I only hope I can mimic that the rest of my life.