Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Yesterdays Glory - Part 2

To come to the end of the year always brings
reflection doesn't it?  My mind travels back to all of 2014 and always seems to land on just about the most amazing thing God did this year, short of bringing our church together the way He did.  Still, even our other best God moment of the year has to do with the amazing ways God can show Himself.

I will never forget the day our daughters kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Sylvestre, bounded up the stairs to tell me that our daughter had accepted Christ in her classroom that day.  We lived in New England and the children and I had an amazing little church family.  This church also had a private school right smack in the middle of a tough area of the city.  For a year, I taught 7th grade there while K attended kindergarten downstairs.

To me, when a child accepts Christ at the age of five, you sort of have to wonder, how much do they know?  Sure, it was genuine, but do they understand and will it stick?  As she grew, it was pretty evident that her spirituality was simply a part of who she is.  Yet I found it a little strange that she never asked to be baptized.  We talked about it, maybe twice, but I chose to never, ever pressure her about it because this decision had to come from God and only Him in order to really mean something.

Back when we were in that wonderful New England church, the Yankee went to another church.  During those beginning years when I was just learning to TRY and walk the way Jesus would have me walk, it was tough on us because he didn't really understand why I couldn't go to his church to  learn the way I needed to learn, even though I had tried it and even converted to his religion for a little while.  Bible versus placed on the frig would cause disruption in our house and we were just in completely different places in our lives as far as spiritual growth went.  I just wanted a relationship with Jesus, I didn't want it to be surrounded by a religion, but he did because that was the way he was raised and I needed to try to understand this ( I failed miserably at this most times).

It wasn't until we moved here, and a year later our friend Casey invited us to her church, that we met Roger.  And God used Roger in a HUGE way from the first time The Yankee ever talked to him.  We have attended church together as a family ever since, and our lives have grown by leaps and bounds over the last five plus years.  I  always wondered in the back of my mind during those five years, would The Yankee ever ask to be baptized.  I never mentioned it, I never brought it up, but I filed it away with the prayer that someday, K would also ask to be baptized and I left it in God's very capable hands (how often do we forget how capable His hands truly are?)  As a wife, I suppose I could have nagged him about it.  At the very least, I could have mentioned how important it was TO ME that he get baptized, but what would that have accomplished?  Then he would have gotten baptized and, in the back of my mind, I would have always wondered, did that come from me or was it a genuine heartfelt thing between him and God?

During our last Homecoming, we were driving down the street as a family.  How the conversation began is a blur to me now, I just recall we were not even talking about church at all, when suddenly, The Yankee said, "You know, I don't know what it is, but I can't get it out of my mind that I want Roger to baptize me while I am home this time.  What do you guys think?"  At which point K nearly jumped from the back seat into the front from excitement and proclaimed, "Dad, I have been praying for the right time to get baptized and guess what?  God just showed me my right time. I'm getting baptized with you!!!!"  All along, even though the three of us were clueless to it, God had been having her wait for what will surely be remembered as one of the most special moments of her life. There are very few moments in your life that can bring you to goosebumps and tears at the same time.  This was one of mine. We had not even been aware she had been praying for God's guidance on getting baptized.

So, on a not-so-warm fall day, we traveled down to the freezing cold river with our church family, where Roger allowed The Yankee to help him dunk K.  One thing about K, you never have to guess what she is thinking or how she really feels about something.  Immediately upon being brought up out of the river she screamed, "Holy crap that is COLD!!!"  We laugh about it to this day..its the kind of church we are.  A teenager can come up out the water, yell that and no one gets offended or put off, its just another laughable moment to enjoy.

And then Roger baptized my hubby.

This man who had always believed that since he had been baptized as a baby, there was no need for adult baptism in his life.  God works in miraculous ways, if only we will wait on Him and allow Him to do His work.  I look back so grateful.  Keeping my mouth shut is not one of my strong suites.  But never nagging my daughter or my husband to get baptized, well, those baptisms meant so much more to me because I didn't ask and ask and ask, but instead, learned to pray and wait.

It's a practice, that whole praying and waiting thing.  I often wonder who really perfects it here on this earth?  For me, it seems like I can perfect it in some things, mostly with those I love, but other things I fail miserably at praying and waiting for.  I will say this, God taught me through K and the Yankee that my loved ones are in His hands.  We asked our son if he wanted to be baptized that day along with his sister and his daddy.  We asked him once. He replied "I will think about it."  About a week later he said, "No, I don't think this is my time."  Should we have been disappointed as parents?  Nah, because his time is between him and God and that is going to, one day, make his baptism that much sweeter.  Until then, I will not question him about when he wants it to happen.  I will wait for God to prompt him to let us know its his time.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Yesterdays Glory - Part 1

Do you ever just think like I do that God tries so hard to show us things, but we are still too blind to witness the miracles in the big and the small things He sends us?

Yesterday I witnessed a biggie in my world and it made me reflect on just about the biggest thing that God allowed into our life this past year.  But first, yesterday....

Rewind to a brief history of our wonderful church.  ClearView has been in the area for about five years, formed because a group of locals wanted a place to worship Christ without all of the rigamaroo that goes along with a typical church.  I am sure that I have mentioned our pastor lived two hours away and was a pastor there, then would drive two hours south to be our pastor on Sunday evenings.  A change in his life made it impossible to do that for a year, so we watched a video feed of him preaching for that year.  Or maybe I should say, about 20 of us decided to dig our heals in , do the work, and stay because we loved our church, we loved our pastor, and we all just had a teeny tiny inkling that God was on to something here.  Our county has no other church quite like ours and we had the faith that, if we put the work in, God was going to show up. Even in a middle school band room, with plastic chairs, He was going to show up.

At the end of that year, God showed up in a big way.  He led our pastor Roger and his wife Carol to move to our county FULL TIME, a scenario that was not even possible at the beginning of our difficult year.  About seven weeks ago he became our pastor full time, no more video feeds, no more long travels for them.  They actually live less than two miles from us and I imagine the only move that could make me more excited than that is if my own parents moved that close to us.  So God showed up about seven weeks ago, but still, we didn't know what would happen. Did I mention a band room instead of a church?  Plastic chairs instead of pews? 

Yesterday, on our seventh Sunday as a so called "real" church, I joked that those setting out the chairs were certainly being optimistic.  I had helped set out the first forty chairs, but then someone else came along and just kept adding more and more rows.  I told them they had the 'Field of Dreams' theory, if they set out the chairs, then the people would come. The next thing I knew those plastic chairs were full, even the extra ones.

The special Christmas praise and worship was led by TEENAGERS (no really, you don't understand, we have never had enough teenagers to lead the praise and worship part of the service), one being our ninth grader playing a piano solo of "Carol of the Bells" (because its one of her momma's favorites), as well as another ninth grader accompanying the Richmond twins on guitar with  "I Saw Three Ships" and "Away in a Manger".  There were little ones in the nursery.  I don't know how many in childrens church (no really, you don't understand, there were Sundays where we didn't even need to offer these two services because we didn't need them).  The hospitality table was loaded down.  The message was awesome!  And God, well, He is so good.

I am going to tell it like it is, that year of video feed was as difficult as could be.  Some Sundays were great and joyful, but some Sundays it was difficult to even get out of bed and just show up.  People left and with every person that left, those determined to make the church work had to stop for a moment and regroup.  I can't speak for everyone, but I know I would think, "Wait, are we really doing the right thing here?  Do they see some type of future failure that maybe we just don't have eyes to see right now?"  Then another Sunday would come along and we would plow through, being there for one another and honoring God and our pastor by doing what needed to be done until God decided to show us what He had in store for us. He was good during that difficult year too, because He was doing a work in us that none of us could even see at the time.  Mostly, we just saw that it was difficult.

But boy did He ever show up yesterday!!!!! The following passage was a small part of our sermon yesterday, but it fits right into what God showed me as I looked around that band room in amazement at what God was doing.  (Again, I use The Message in a lot of cases because it is just easier for me to understand.)

Galatians 5:22 - The Message

22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

We are called to wait upon the Lord.  This is the third time in my life ( the third time I have recognized) He has shown me the blessings that multiply when we wait for Him amidst the things that just are not easy or comfortable for us.  Sometimes things just don't seem to fit or fall into place, but oh those blessings when we wait for Him to show us instead of following emotions and feelings.  God doesn't rule through our emotions!  He guides our lives through our faith in Him and our trust that He is out to do what is best for us, even when we can't see it for ourselves!

Well, my time is short today and I have run out of time to write about that one HUGE thing that happened this year, so until tomorrow, I will call this part one of two!!!!  Until then, enjoy my second favorite Christmas carol & Merry Christmas everyone!!!!!