Monday, December 31, 2012

Past the Pane

I awoke wearing the same smile I slept with. I couldn't wait for my feet to touch the ground and see what HE held for me this day. Yesterday had been amazing, two wonderful services back to back. The old floor creaked as I left slumber behind and approached daybreak. I found myself standing in front of the window that introduces me to each morning. The sound of blinds lifting placed a pure clean breath into my lungs and a tear came to my eye as I knew HE was there for me. I could see the condensation covering the window and I walked away. I thought of the windows of the church last night, they too were fogged by the coolness outside, and the warmth within HIS house. Having been reminded last night that it does us good every now and then to get down on our knees and just pray, I knew, that is how I wanted to begin this day.

My head lifted from the carpet and a smile is all I could offer HIM as my feet took me back to that window. I sat down knowing HE had more to show me, even though the glass was cloudy everywhere except right where my eyes were cast. The beauty consumed me for a moment as I continued to reflect on the day before. I thought of her as she Testified from her seat, rather the piano bench she often occupied..."...the difference is The Son."

In that instant the sun, which had not even fully risen yet, shone through a cluster of clouds. I saw a face with something on his head. I tried to make it out as the words "the difference is The Son," spoke to me again. As I looked past the pane I saw clearly a man's face, with a crown of thorns atop His head. Tears filled my eyes, as I knew The Son had in fact already risen. I knew that there may not be anyone else on this earth that could see what I was looking at, yet I was special enough to HIM, that the Spiritual blinders were lifted this day, I could see past life's pain, and see that the sun still shines...the Son still shines. Just as my heart began to fill, the pane began to clear. Tears ran down it just as fast they ran from my eyes. I looked for the face again, and it was still there, only something was different. The thorns appeared to have been removed from the crown. 

HE has already given me beyond what I deserve and I'm honored to have spent a little time with HIM this morning. I pray HE keeps me in Spirit all day long as we say goodbye to this year, and begin another one. I am thankful that HE has risen and helps me look past the foggy panes, directly in HIS direction. I am Blessed this morning!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

What We Do

I could hear the tall man's voice as he sat two pews in front of me this night. It usually comes from the back of the church but our little country church has grown and The Lord is busy shuffling people around as HE shows them different things. The tall man was given a very strong and pleasing voice that can ring powerfully throughout the church, yet lay softly next to the ears. I wondered why he sang with such might each and every time he came. I wondered if he ever felt like not singing and I knew he had to sometimes, he is human, but I've always known him to sing anyway, and I wondered why. I immediately was given the answer when the sound of a missing voice rang silently from behind me....because that is what they do. I realized his parents were missing this night, but time after time, they've all walked through the glass doors of our church, sat on a pew, and sang. I looked down the pew of where the tall man sat. His arm was placed loving around his wife, and three beautiful boys sat side by side, clinging to Bibles and hymn books...and I knew that one day when they had families of their own, they too would sing loud and proud, because this is what they know.

A nervous man walked to the front of the church as it fell in his lot to give the night's Devotion. He asked if we could hear his knees knocking and I knew how he felt. One by one, a member of the congregation is chosen what may seem like random to some, to present a short Devotion to the crowd. We all know that these are opportunities HE presents us with, to share and play a small part in a service, and give a little Praise back to HIM. Often those chosen for Devotion are hand picked by HIM, to relay a message directly to someone sitting on the pews with attentive ears. This night was no different. The Lord brought this big strong man to admit weakness and failure, but Praise HIM for never forsaken. "...for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." Deuteronomy 31:6  I knew the big strong man had used every word in that verse to walk up there with his Bible clinched in his hand. He did his part, through knocking knees, and I found encouragement in that.

As service almost began, the preacher was suddenly sent back to his pew as two little girls had a song they needed to sing. The sisters walked up to the mics and their voices began,
"Sometimes I wake up in the morning
I see I made it through the night
I listen for my family -- sure enough they're alright
As we gather round the table
Bow our heads in thankfulness
With tear-filled eyes my heart cries 'still blessed' "
I found myself, along with many others seated near me, wiping tears and smiling at the same time. I heard shouts of encouragement as their song progressed and my heart was filling with every single word. I knew why these two sang. I looked down my pew at their parents. Their Mama attempted to blot away the swell of tears that flowed and their Daddy's lips silently moved along with their's, with each and every word. I knew they sang, because that is what they do. I was thankful that these parents were showing their kids that Wednesday night was church night, just as it is on Sundays.

In this world we live in today, the devil's hold on so many is apparent with every turn. There are still attempts made everyday to drag me down into a world of suffer but I'm thankful I have glass doors that still open on a bitter cold Wednesday night. We all can't meet every single time, we are mere humans but personally I am one sinner, that needs church as routine. I am very thankful HE has given me the ability to recognize this need and HE has provided me a way to meet that need. I looked back at my child who sat several pews away with friends, and I was thankful that this is what we do.

The preacher finally stood and wouldn't you know, his message went right along with what The Lord was giving me at that very moment. The Routine. He talked about the routine of Christmas and the routine of after Christmas. I thought of our routines at home and how just showing up to worship on certain days of the week, certain hours of the day, was never enough. Keeping a routine at our house of reading Devotions, prayer and discussions of The Bible and Jesus, is what we need in my home, when we are away from church. We try to do this now, but I can see that what we do, is what they will do. I want to provide my children, given to me from above, a routine of Spiritual growth. I don't normally make resolutions for the beginning of each year so I'll close this year with this on my heart...and claim that what we do will help us grow today, tomorrow and thereafter.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

In Their Eyes

Everywhere I looked, HE seemed to be pointing me in the church's direction. My entire day was unplanned and we had nothing on our family list that would prevent my daughter and I from caroling at the local nursing home with many other church members. I had not been inside one of these facilities since my Maw Maw took her last breath in a place like that. I felt like I needed to go, so we did.

I had no intentions of really speaking to the residents. I thought I could get lost in the crowd of singers and not even look them in the eyes, so I could selfishly leave there just as I had walked in. I was very wrong and HE knew all along that HE put me there, so that I would look directly into the eyes I wanted to avoid.

The children were all leading us down the halls along with Santa, and we followed with our song books in hand. I was at the back of the pack, next to her...one of the nicest ladies I've ever met. She didn't pass a door without sticking her head inside, and smiling at the people and telling them Merry Christmas. I stood behind her for a while as she did this from door to door and soon I came to a door with a sweet little lady peering at me. I looked for the nicest lady I've ever met and she wasn't with me anymore. Song burst from the hallway and it sounded so beautiful and my feet took me inside her room. My heart pounded as her eyes smiled so thankfully as I walked closer to her bed. She spoke so softly I had to get closer to her and courage took me to her bedside. She whispered Thank You. I smiled into her eyes and she smiled into my heart. I could only utter the words from the nicest lady I've ever met "Merry Christmas."

As the songs took us down each and every hall, I waved as I passed some rooms, some doors drew me inside, to look in their eyes. As we sang our last few songs, an elderly man sat in his wheelchair, and he fought back tears as the verses rang loud and clear. A daughter gave thanks to us as her mother sat in a room listening to the choir in the hall. I too, fought back tears as HE kept showing me the touched man's eyes. I saw a man who once walked. I saw a face that stood before many hardships. I saw the eyes that have looked upon death many times before. The Lord held our choir there for several minutes and in the pause, I couldn't take my eyes off of his. I began to see other things. I saw a man who has seen beauty that was only meant for him to see. I saw a man who was given great love deep into his heart where he held on to it, when that's all he may have left.

We eventually left that hall and we sang our way back to where we entered. Another gentleman sat in his wheelchair and sang the words with us. It felt good. I had no idea that HE had planned that all along for us. I walked out of there ashamed I had entered so selfishly. But HE gave to me anyway knowing that deep down, I had shown up for something...and in their eyes HE gave it to me.

Monday, December 17, 2012

HIS Perfection

I kept watching the back door as the crowd walked into our little country church. No matter how many walk through those doors each time they open, HE makes enough room. The pews didn't physically extend and the walls did not swell, but I couldn't keep my eyes off that door as people poured in, looking around the room to find other loved ones they could hopefully sit with. Soon, I saw two people walk in, who told my children they would come see them in the Christmas play. When their little eyes found the two in the audience with me, they couldn't wait to run off the stage and come see our neighbors, whom they had invited the night before...

I was almost certain the church couldn't hold any more than it had at this morning's service, but HE must have led dozens more in this night. It was very wet outside but the only rain brought inside those doors was the droplets that had soaked into the collars of all. I took a deep breath as the music began, and prayed quickly that someone would be as touched watching this, as I had been just observing the practices. I can't count the tears I choked back just watching all the kids and the parents, and other adults who were cast in this year's play, take it seriously and I knew tonight they would perform it under HIS perfection.

After the moving service we had already experienced this morning, I took an easy breath and knew HE had something for us all. I watched as beautiful children filled the stage. A school teacher stood beside them who played their Sunday School teacher in the play, and they just sang. I didn't count them but there were probably about twenty if I had to guess. Their shy but proud eyes versed the song under HIS perfection and children looked out to the crowd of many and smiled directly at parents, at grandparents, at friends and at neighbors. They were safe.

We moved on to the adult play next where a the story of a virgin having The Child of God affected a man who accepted Jesus Christ as his one and only Savior. The actors again performed under HIS perfection. As soon as I heard the words from the song, "as He was dying on a tree...Please forgive me," it began to rain inside. I couldn't catch the droplets fast enough. Everyone was trying to wipe their eyes too, but the rain just poured, and once again, our collars were soaked.

I watched two people pick up the long beautiful piece of wood that holds our tears on Sunday mornings just as it does on Wednesday nights. They placed it down in front as the preacher spoke in closing of the play, and with several verses of song, several sinners knelt raining tears on this particular tree which we use as an altar. One of our visitors decided to hand it all over this night, and under HIS perfection he can now walk outside those doors, face the rain and face the storms because he is safe. It was a very emotional night for most of us, and I am so happy my precious neighbors got to be a part of that. They have been searching for the just the right church for them, and I'm proud they got to see how our little church worships...even at small town Christmas play.



Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Power

A single tear pooled just below my eye. It stayed there for a while as a reminder of the tiring trials of my day before it slowly ran down to my pillow. The peaceful silence of the house welcomed the loud echo of its fall as I thanked HIM for washing away the sins I may have held within. I smiled as I thought of how hard the devil tried this day, to keep me from a powerful service, I needed.

Just the day before my child had come to me with a problem just as he was about to start his day at school. I always try to tell my kids each day as we pull into the parking lot to be extra kind to someone today, there's always someone who needs a friend today. As he sought specific advice this morning, I pictured my Bible as I began to speak. It was closed and I could see no specific verse unfortunately, but I knew the answer was inside. I gave him this... "You boys have so much power and you don't realize it. The devil will pull and pull at you hoping you'll make poor decisions but you need to remember, you are to be fed of God and not the devil. You have the power to make the devil stronger and happier, or you the power to please The Lord, and do what is right. The other boys are watching you, just as you are watching them...use that power to show them the right, and not the wrong."

I'm sure I have failed to follow that advice since I spoke it, but I'm thankful HE is there to help. Every time I turned around this day it was as if the devil was throwing down concrete barriers in front of me, hoping I would give up before the church service started. In fact, my determination grew stronger with each one I conquered in hopes to just to sit on that pew. When I finally made it there, tears came with ease but I didn't feel like I was crying. We sang. The pews were packed full on the single side of the church used on Wednesday nights and I felt so proud HE had placed me there. I soon was released from the awareness of anyone else being there, I felt like it was just me and The Lord, though I could see and hear everything going on around me.

The preacher spoke and gave a very enthusiastic sermon on none other than The Power. He soon invited the weak and the sinful crowd to visit The Altar, and I had no intentions of going, but my feet moved anyway. From every direction I could hear their voices asking for The Power to be a light and an influence to someone in the dark and then my vision blurred from my crying eyes of this weakened child of HIS. I could only hear my voice and I could feel HIM near me as HE listened. That familiar warmth and comfort consumed me. As I rose to my feet to go back to my pew, I had to step around a tiny little five year old who was on her knees, with her head buried in the carpet. She must have heard about The Power too, and was seeking more of it. I am Blessed this day, and everyday, that I have been placed in that little country church. HE knew I needed to be there, and I'm thankful for The Power HE gives HIS children, and I hope to use it with the might and strength only HE can provide.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Because of the Shield

I knew the rain was coming. My bones ached before I could even crawl out of bed, but I knew that if I made just a little effort, and got up anyway, the pain would get better. I went through the morning routine like every other day, knowing I had the morning off, and I'd soon have my prayer time, my quiet time, my worship time, with HIM...

I admit, when I finally got to that quiet time, that prayer time, that worship time with HIM, I was expecting something. Usually, all I have to do is ask, and He'll show me more than I expected and it doesn't take me long to figure out what He wants me to see. Today was different...

I prayed three times and saw nothing but once more and I opened my eyes as I sat on the little cabin's porch. The warm December morning had driven me outdoors today. I could smell the wood chopped by hand with an axe by my husband and son, that was piled up neatly behind me. Lichen and moss still showed life as their brilliant green and blues colored the darkened rough bark of the wood. A soft breeze cooled my arms as I tried to listen for HIM.

There was nothing more than silence offered to me so I inhaled deeply. My eyes scanned the landscape for HIM but they were drawn to the tree right in front of me. There were two actually, but my eyes only wanted to look at one. Though both trees were equal in size, both similar in shape and form, and both were the exact same kind of tree, one had more to offer me this morning. The one barren tree seem to just shadow the other prettier tree who still had many leaves on it. I listened to leaves play their song as the wind moved through the bare tree's limbs and passed over to the pretty tree. The bright orange, deep red leaves seemed to dance and my eyes soon moved back over to the bare tree next to it. I could feel the wind run over my right arm first and then over the left one. I looked at the two trees but this time, I couldn't take my eyes off of the bare one. I was wrong about that tree. I saw a very strong tree standing before me this time who has shielded the prettier one all along. In fact the only reason the other tree was still pretty was because of the shield. If the other tree had not been there, the pretty tree would have lost its leaves to wind a long time ago.

Sometimes, people are different than what they seem on the outside. Sometimes, they hide behind the shield of others instead of arming themselves, afraid they will weaken when left alone. The Bible tells us in Ephesians chapter 6

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
I walked away from the cabin's porch with exactly what I needed. It wasn't exactly what I thought I would receive this day, but I'm not surprised. HE'S been speaking "trees" a lot this past week as several have mentioned them as they Testify, even the preacher mentioned them in his sermon on Sunday. I couldn't even make it in the house before I dropped again, to my knees, in the middle of my yard, and thanked HIM for today's Blessings.