Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Name on The Cross

The air was clear when we left for church. The sun couldn't be seen in the clouded sky. As we traveled down the road getting closer to church, I began to notice a light fog obscuring my vision. The closer and closer we got to church, the thicker the fog seemed. I found myself trying harder and harder to see, and I knew HE had intended it to be so...

I watched for the steeple as we rounded that curve and when my eyes found it, I smiled with comfort. Entering that room, my mind went backwards in time as I took my seat. Two large crosses were placed in the very front of the church and I thought of yesterday. The words that left the teenager's body at an Easter Egg hunt we attended rang loud, "Had it not been for a place called Mount Calvary....had it not been for the old rugged cross..." Here on Easter Sunday, I sat facing an empty cross, and another draped with a cloth and topped with a crown of thorns. The bare one said nothing but the one with thorns wore the name Jesus. I teared up as I tried to quieten the teen's voice but it got louder, "Had it not been for a man called Jesus..."

As people poured inside the tiny country church I could barely look at the crown of thorns. My optics became occupied with children, hymn books and distractions because every time I looked up, I saw The Name on that cross and my heart began the tremble. I knew HE was about to tell me something and no matter how thick the fog, I had to keep my eyes open, I had to keep looking, and I would see...

I had to sit through a very difficult Sunday School lesson as our teacher read one account of what it must have been like for the human body, to be crucified on a cross, like the Son of God. I hid tears as emotion filled me, and after listening to all of that, I couldn't wait to get back and sit before the crosses. One was still empty and the other still held up HIS name. I wondered what HE wanted to show me so I prayed that my eyes wouldn't dim.

I noticed some of the children around me, the really young ones had little crosses in their hands from their Sunday School class. The music played and family after family made their way up to the empty cross, and placed fresh flowers all over it. It reminded me of a funeral as I watched my friends go up and place their flowers. Tears rolled from me but my vision never clouded. As my family walked up to the front, the aroma of fresh blooms met me at The Altar. My eyes were dried and I began to smile as one by one we all made that cross beautiful...

We sang some more songs and I couldn't take my eyes off of the child in front of us. No more than four or five years old, she sang words to a song she could have only learned by being surrounded by it. She clinched tightly to her little white cross and I noticed something was written on it. I must have stared it through the entire song until I finally saw it clearly...it had her name on it. I teared up as I knew what HE was telling me.

I looked towards the cross with the thorned crown and my heart read the name Jesus. His Name was on that cross for her. His Name was on that cross for me. About the time my tears began to flow again, she turned her little white cross over and on the back it read, "Jesus loves..." When you turned it to the front, their little names were all written on the fronts of their crosses and I sat there thinking about that. We stood for a final song I looked back at the tiny little girl to see if she was still holding onto the cross but I was met with the biggest blue eyes I've ever seen. This time, she had been watching me. We both smiled at each other and in the eyes of a child, HE confirmed HIS message.

As our pastor said, "A cross is just a cross when you remove Jesus." Know He was there, and know why HE was there. Look towards the cross no matter how difficult, because you just might find little eyes looking to you, as you look for HIM. Tomorrow begins our Revival at my little country church and I know how physically exhausting and Spiritually exhausting this can be. It will be the first day of April, the first day of Revival and the first day of my 38th year here on this land. I can't wait to see what HE holds for me...HE LIVES for me, so I need to live for HIM.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Almost Ordinary

I raced to the kitchen window and tugged hard on the ragged string which lifted the blinds. I knew in my heart I was already too late, the sun rose without me this morning. Disappointment could be seen on my face as I walked away from the common, ordinary sky. I started the routine of Sunday morning and almost settled for ordinary...

It took over an hour before I slowed down enough to speak to HIM. With my eyes closed in prayer, I could feel warmth gracing the outer layer of skin atop my nose and forehead. Without a moment of hesitation I continued to pray as a smile lifted my cheeks. Soon the bright became too inviting and my eyes opened to see the most beautifully painted sky with hints of orange, goldenrod and many other colors HE chose to donate to the sky this morning. I shook my head and walked away wondering why HE keeps doing for me, when shamefully He often falls to the bottom of my priorities. I felt a sense of urgency in my heart, and my body started to quake with the ticking of the clock, knowing soon, I'd be on that pew...

As the miles rolled behind us, the tremble continued. My husband told the children there would be no Sunday School today, just Worship and I knew that to be true. Sunday School falls on our ten o'clock schedule but these days, The Lord lets us know that the more we have for HIM, the more HE has for us. I watched people leaving their houses as we traveled that familiar road. Cars were backing out of driveways and I pretended they were all coming with us, to our little country church. One glance at trade-day at the top of the mountain and I knew where most were headed, and that put a tear in my eye...

Eager people were already filling the church upon our arrival. Soon, the first song began and I started missing the little blue-eyed soldier who used to occupy the seat behind me. I rarely heard her voice, other than scripture that flowed from her tongue when we least expected it, but I could feel when she was there. I listened to her two daughters who sat in her place as their voices harmonized with the hymn. One sister became louder and the strength in her voice became very pronounced and just as the song ended, she asked us to sing a verse once more...

I listened intently to see if He would give hint to whom he would reach for next and the room began to move, despite the stillness of my flesh. Others began to confess they knew it would be that kind of service before they even walked in the door and I remembered how ordinary the day started. I could hear the tall man's voice in the next song and I knew that he would be reached for soon, but unlike I had predicted, the man on the first pew stood instead. I had listened to the beautiful voices of his sisters just moments before and it didn't take me long to realize why I had been missing his blue-eyed Mama. He walked down the center aisle. As The Spirit filled him, he outstretched his hands to the side and his fists were clinched tight and I thought of Jesus, hanging on the cross and knowing all along that the one on the front pew of our little church, would stand up when HE asked him to. The Lord was using that blue-eyed lady's children this day, and I began to cry knowing how proud she would be. A young mother sat quietly behind me with the blue-eyed lady's great-grandchild in her womb and I knew that she was probably missing the church as much as we were missing her right now...

My body kept shaking and I saw no end to the quiver of my bones as one sinner after the other stood. The man from the first pew sat down and from behind him, his own son stood. He was Praising the name Jesus and a fresh spring of tears rolled from his eyes. My own began to swell and my ears picked up what my eyes failed to see and my heart could feel when my ears failed me too. At times there were two people talking at once yet somehow I could hear them both. I took a deep breath not sure if my heart would hold out until the end of service and in an instant, the shaking stopped. I felt as if HIS hand was clinched inside my chest, forcing my heart to beat when I knew it wasn't strong enough. I couldn't believe I almost settled for the ordinary...

The air inside the church was mighty and thick but breath came with ease as HE fed us even more. The one at the piano began to play and I smiled knowing his first child would be born soon. He began to sing but words soon left him as tears filled his eyes. The minute his voice fell silent, I could hear his mother's growing stronger from behind me. She sang when he couldn't. I knew we should all be that way with each other...singing for those who can't, and the piano played on...

I watched a mother with the prettiest streaks of silver in her hair. I wanted to go hug her but I knew HE was speaking to her right then. Her head shook back and forth and within seconds her hand lifted up into the air. It wasn't long before her son, the tall man, stood. I really didn't think I could handle any more but The Lord gave him words. I listened with my heart and I thanked HIM for showing me so much in so little time. Our pastor stood and sang with a sturdy voice. I loved that HE had given him just the right amount of assurance, to stand to his feet and belt out alone.

He soon walked to the front and faced us all and asked a question reading from The Book of Amos, "Thus hath the Lord God shewed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit. And he said, Amos, what seest thou?" I smiled as I knew that I had almost seen the ordinary this morning. I had almost found disappointment in the day The Lord had made and HE was standing there all along presenting me with a basket of summer fruit. I'm awfully Blessed this day and it has been anything but ordinary! With a loss of words, I can only say...HE gave us a basketful this morning.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Might of the Wind

I looked up at the old cabin. I knew I would sit on that front porch very soon no matter how dark the clouds looked. I needed my time alone with HIM, and I couldn't wait.

With coffee in hand, walked up the steep hill until my feet met the wooden floor. I could barely hear anything. The wind was awfully mighty but I sat in a chair facing the beautiful landscape. After settling in my seat, birds gathered on the ground around the old cabin. I watched, unnoticed by them, and I dropped my head in prayer. I could no longer hear the wind, so I lifted my words out loud just to hear how they sounded to this everyday sinner. I told HIM who I really was and asked for what I needed. As I lifted my head, still unnoticed by the birds, I smiled and looked around at the darkened sky. Rain clouds covered the sun but I knew it was still there, despite what little evidence many would see today. The birds took flight, and I wondered where they had gone.

I assured The Lord that if He gave it, believers would believe. If He spoke it, believers would hear and if He sent it, believers would feel. The sun popped out for a few seconds and shown directly in my eyes so bright that I dared not turn away but a tear swelled from my eye. The roof of the old cabin began to shake and pop so loud in the wind, but I never felt it on my skin. I watched the stillness of the trees around me and knew they should be shaking in the might of the wind but they were held tightly in place. I grimaced in the loud of the tin bending but knew I was safe despite all of the noise.

It soon calmed once again and I dared not move. Two flocks of birds lifted from the bright green field in front of my eyes and crossed paths as they flew in different directions and I couldn't take my eyes off of them. From one of the divisions I saw a single bird part. His wings took him to the nearest tree where three from his flock followed. His voice burst loud and it was the purest tone I've ever heard from a bird. My ears perked in amazement at the volume this feathered fowl could release behind that beak. Within seconds, the rest of his flock came flying in and they sat perched next to his song. Just as I thought his song would run out upon their arrival, he cut through the wind with that perfect tune and one from the other group came flying in, holding still under that big bare tree. I didn't think he could get any louder but he proved me wrong and he sliced the thin country air with another beautiful carol as he kept calling them in, one by one. Birds were coming in from every direction just to hear him sing and I sat with tears rolling down my face at the sight of them all. The sun popped out yet again and they all sat facing the sun, despite the harsh wind that now shook the limbs from which they perched.

I knew He was showing me that sometimes we have to sit through the wind, to get a glimpse of the sun but even if we only get a few seconds, it will be worth the harsh wait. I sat for a while longer as my chest felt like it was lifting without any effort from me, as if being pulled upward and I knew who was giving me breath on this day and I thanked HIM again. I stepped off that old porch and was met with the blister of the wind that hadn't touched me the whole time I was taking HIM in. I hope that HE sees fit in me, to stop and sing a song ever once in a while, no matter how dark and cloudy it may be, even if the flock is going in another direction. I want to be the bird that stops and Praises Him no matter the conditions, no matter the weather, because HE has a sun for us...he had The Son for us.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Because of the cross

I awoke to the sounds of the songman's voice..."We shall see Jesus, just as they saw Him. There is no greater, promise than this." Last week during one of the services, I kept seeing HIM, on the cross and His eyes saw me as HE hung there. I existed only to HIM, for it would be centuries upon centuries before I even gave breath.

I listened to the words of the song over and over and I asked The Lord, what HE would have these hands write today. Deception has tried to smear my vision as accolades came from many directions this week about the stories I share. Those closest to me know the truth but without intention, I have may have deceived others. Prayer always comes first, and I write only if He leads me there. So I asked of HIM what would HE have me do this day...

The sounds of chaos came ringing loud and I saw lots of people. Dust was rising from the heels of the small burros and other pack animals as they reluctantly carried their loads. Voices could be heard from every direction and I couldn't make sense of the words so I just lied safely on my bed and watched them. The dust reached my lungs and I could taste the dirt. I saw others reaching for linens to cover their noses and mouths. I reminded The Lord that I trusted HIM, and HE was to take me where HE needed me to go.

I heard the strong man from church repeat the story from yesterday about how he had kissed his son's delicate baby belly and wonder how anyone could send their only son to die for us...

I choked on dust but kept walking to see where The Lord needed me to be. I could hear metal clinging loudly but didn't look around to find the source, and I walked on. I looked down as I walked through the heart of the town. The dusty ground began to settle and it felt harder under my feet as the surface changed. I followed a path where lots of people traveled. In the distance the sound of the metal pierced my ears and I heard many voices shout. I could see the tips of two crosses and what appeared to be a third rising but my feet walked quickly to get past it. I dared not look up again and I just wanted to get away from the voices of shame and ridicule.

My heart raced as fast as my feet and I realized I was still in my bed. I don't think this body could take witnessing such an event. The agony of someone going through that for me and for us all...

I took a deep breath and there was no dirt to choke me. I heard silence and my voiced prayed. "I trust You Lord. These are your hands to write with, You have my heart, You own my soul."

I can't imagine walking out the door this morning without even speaking to HIM. I shall pack my mule and walk about my day. Dust will fly around and I will hear chaos but I will keep walking. As long as HE needs me here, I will have to see the unkind, I will hear shame and I too will be deceived by many, but I will trust in HIM, and He will show me the path. I love Him this morning. I'm not always clear on the reason for the stories at first, but I think perhaps HE wanted me to get a better picture of why I should write...it's because of the cross I dared not see and it's because of the cross from which I didn't have to hang. If I could sing, I would burst into song, if I could speak, I'd shout with might because HE saw the cross for me, and he hung in my place and all I can do is write words...but I'll write them with honor.