Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Into the Rain

I awoke asking for HIS help, and HE provided immediately, I just didn't know it yet. I raced through my morning with the words to a familiar song ringing loudly, "...the battle's not mine, said Little David..." I suppressed the song as best I could as I greeted people along the morning's way only to find it ringing louder than before with each step forward. I knew HE was working on something, and I needed to collect the pieces to finish the custom puzzle handcrafted just for me. People expect certain things from me, and right now, they're standing everywhere in need...only I can't do it alone, so I sang on, "...the battle's not mine, Lord it's Thine."

I went home and studied David and Goliath (again) to see if I could find something, though I knew not what I was looking for. I kept studying the words Faith vs. Pride. I looked at the size of Goliath's pride and despite the size of it (and him), they were no match for Little David's Faith and Trust in The Lord. I continued to sing the song all day and awaited my next clue.

The sky outside clouded and I knew the rain was coming. It didn't take long before I had decided the rain was just enough to stop me from attaining a seat under the steeple tonight. I originally wanted to go church, but I was surprised by the growth the excuse of rain had in a matter of minutes. I soon found myself go. I pictured myself on that pew singing and then watching someone give Devotion, watching people stand and then listening to our preacher. I knew I wasn't like David. I have grabbed too many stones and none of them are the right I prayed, and again, HE provided.

I soon found myself driving down the road, headed for our evening service. The rain had slowed to a mere drizzle and I noticed the green. I had almost forgotten how bright, how fresh, how beautiful and crisp everything looks after a Springtime shower, and I thanked HIM as I pulled into the parking lot.

After the songs had been sung, a man walked up to the front of the church and placed his Bible down. He happens to be my Sunday School teacher and his Devotion was on Pride. I looked down at my Bible shocked that I'm hearing similar content that The Lord has placed on me this very same day...apparently I needed this. The Sunday School teacher asked for us to speak up if we had something to share about what The Lord has done for us this week. Immediately the channels in my head started changing really fast. There were so many things to look at, I couldn't slow my mind down long enough to watch any of it.

I listened to the preacher talk about Pride and daily temptations and struggles. I thought about the rain, and how pretty everything was today. I knew that if it hadn't rained, the view would have been ordinary. After church was over, I was ashamed that I had almost let the rain stop me from coming to church.

As miles fell behind, putting me farther from church and closer to my house, I thought of how fast life is moving right now. I smiled knowing tomorrow will be slower because I went into the rain. I knew I would take time to laugh tomorrow because I had went into the rain. I knew that I would recognize HIM tomorrow because I went...

I couldn't help but thank HIM for putting me into this rain because I didn't go there on my own, I couldn't. It feels like with so many obstacles my family has faced this past week, we have really been standing in the rain for a while now...and I thanked HIM for that too. I knew that I could now see the green because we've walked through rain, as I choose to stand in it no more.

I still don't have this full puzzle put together, and I imagine He has more to show me, but I'm dropping my stones, one by one for I have too many. I only need one, and Faith will walk me into the rain, and Faith will walk me out of the rain.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Playing Church

I walked in with an upright stature. No one could see my spirit that dragged behind me with its hands grasping around my ankles, not willing to let go. I took a seat and looked around the room, knowing I'd be playing church soon. I didn't even have a Bible in my hands like everyone else, but I was there because I just enough good to desire the position on the pew, and just enough bad to know I needed to be there if I ever wanted my spirit to walk as one with me again.

A preacher stood and he began to speak to me as if we were the only two people in the room. He spoke of enemies. We all have them in some form or fashion, he said. My heart raced because there's no way he could see how discouraged and angry I was. There's no way he knew our lives had been tossed upside down, shaken and then placed back into our own hands to make sense of the mess. But he knew I had enemies, and that is exactly what pushed me through those doors to begin with. This was as real as it gets and I was no longer playing church.

It's been over two years since I walked in that little country church for the first time. I not only learned that I had enemies, but I learned to forgive and forget. I was taught that I needed to be able to face my enemy without reminding myself of how often I've been mistreated, that's what true forgiveness is. I was soon able to walk myself down to the altar and forgive, and I prayed for the enemy.

Yesterday, I was listening to a preacher on the radio talk about these verses:
Matthew 7:9,10  "Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?"
I teared up, still driving down the road and listening to this preacher, as I realized that all those years I carried an enemy with me, it was by choice. I could have truly forgiven earlier, and should have, but chose not to. I realized that all those years this person was asking for bread, I only gave stone and when asking for fish, I provided a serpent.

I no longer waste time reminding myself how much someone has wronged me, or how little they have given every time I see them. The memory is still there but I no longer see it when I come in contact with them. I remember seeing a quote similar to this once, "When someone deserves your love the least, that's when they need it the most." In the world we live in, I must remind myself of this often. Pray for someone the flesh tells you not to, give fish and bread to those who hunger. You may soon find your spirit lifting, rather than dragging behind you. It's been two years since I swallowed my pride and bent my knees and thankfully, I've been doing it ever since. I walked into a building expecting to play church, but I was asking for bread and fish. The Lord gave me bread and fish.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Cawing of the Crows

I stepped quickly with every intent of listening to The Lord this morning. Up the hill I walked until I reached the old cabin's front porch. The air was clear and the sun shown brightly onto everything my eyes peered upon. I was surrounded by the prettiest music a band of songbirds could play but something kept distracting me. Over beyond, just out of my sight, I heard the cawing of the crows. Their sound wasn't as pretty as the songbirds which surrounded me, but for some reason, my attention kept arriving on the clutter of noise in the trees beyond the field rather than what I had intentionally surrounded myself with.

I began to pray with my eyes wide open and never could bring myself to say "Amen." I left that dialogue open and perked my ears and darted my eyes so I wouldn't miss a thing. The cawing of the crows grew louder but so did the songbirds that enclosed the cabin's porch as they watched to see to whom I would listen. A loud flutter of wings pelted the country morning. Dozens of black crows lifted into the air and they were gone. They no longer had anyone to squawk for.

My eyes fell onto the field that was covered with a thick blanket of green just days before. It was stricken with brown death which I had noted the evening before. I thought about the answer my husband had fed me when I questioned the lost beauty of that field. He said that the farmer killed the weeds. I now sat on the old wooden porch and gazed at the field. I could feel HIM speaking to me as a sudden soft overwhelm raced my heartbeat faster. I had just heard a preacher on the radio speaking of false teachers and how we can let ourselves get conditioned to accepting that which they teach. If we see it over and over how our friends accept the wrong, we can become hardened over time and believe the false teachings aren't so bad after all, and that is wrong.

I thought of the cawing of the crows. I didn't like what they had to say but still, there were so many and they were just so loud, they got my attention anyway. Often it's that way in life. Many will hop on a wagon because they see their friends encouraging the ride, but it doesn't make it right.

I looked around at the brown field which brought me to my feet. How deceived I felt now that I know it was full of weeds. It had been so green and from a distance the weeds blended with the grass so well. They didn't deceive the farmer though, for he had walked into that field. He reached down with his own hands and knew something was wrong. He looked closely with his eyes and he could see some were not like the others. He took action to save the field and I could now see it was almost too late. Thin blades sparsely scattered, stood erect and young. The prettiest shade of tender green would soon cover the brown with the right encouragement.

False teachers are among us, walking in our fields, cawing from the trees. How easy they can deceive. I have a stronger desire to arm myself with the shield of The Bible and a tongue bladed only with His Truth. I have a desire to seek only the teachings of those cloaked with His Blood who are also shielded with The Bible and sworded with a tongue of Truth. I am Blessed this morning HE took time out to show me.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Left Behind

After a really great Revival this past week, I couldn't wait to get to church on Sunday. It didn't take long for us all to get carried away in Spirit and Worship broke out rather quickly, even though I brought in my burdens and sat them on the bench with me. These weren't the kind of burdens I wanted to take to The Altar and rid myself of...they were burdens I should have been carrying a long time ago.

In our little communities, more than one car accident had claimed the lives of several young people this weekend. Two teens that left this world had actually sat under the sound of my voice as high school students when I had the honor of filling in for their teachers. As soon as I heard the news, I felt a huge burden for all of the other children, the families, the ones left behind. Another accident claimed the lives of two young men. One was about to be a father for the third time, and one left actual video Testimonies about what God has done for him. I was thankful to hear they were Home now, but those left behind were weighing on me heavily.

I felt The Spirit moving in that morning service and I left there knowing HE wanted me to keep those burdens. I sat in the warm sun all afternoon reflecting on the services past, and praying. One statement made in Revival kept standing out, "If you don't have a Testimony, The Lord can give you a Testimony." I thought about all those families affected by the accidents this weekend, and knew HE was speaking to some of them now, and being recognized for it. I just prayed that the rest of those left behind would listen to HIM too.

I let a couple of small afternoon disappointments rob me of my joy. As I drove back to the evening service my head was hanging low despite all HE had given me. I shamefully sat on a pew in hopes that the preacher had the answer I needed. I looked around and once again was disappointed that so little had shown up this evening, but apparently, this was my day to feel selfish. I thought a good stern preaching would probably fix what ails me but I soon would hear the words, "I'm not gonna preach tonight." My heart sank as I began to wonder why I kept finding disappointment on this day when I needed inspiration, when I needed a swift kick in the right direction. As his voice broke, he wiped away tears and told us that we didn't have to participate if we didn't want to, but we were to go down each pew, and speak of the day of our Salvation.

I was almost in shock but smiling at the same time because HE knew exactly what I needed to hear. On this day, it wasn't words from the preacher, it wasn't songs from the hymnal, it was the breath of my fellow Brothers and Sisters. Mothers & fathers, grandparents and children went back in time, and spoke of that day, that night, that moment when they fully surrendered. I sat crying and listening to each and every story of the most beautiful day of their lives. I spoke of my day when my best friend took me by the hand and knelt beside me. I had hoped she could do it for me, but she told me I had to do it myself. We were at my childhood home, in a bathroom that echoed my words when The Lord entered my heart to remain forevermore.

I went home and cried some more knowing I already had what I needed most. I was inspired and I left there knowing that HE has given me a Testimony for a reason. The best way we can help those left behind is to use it. Whether those left behind are grieving for the loved ones lost this weekend, or maybe those we will one day have to leave behind...there is love in a Testimony, there is truth in a Testimony and most of all, you'll never find disappointment in a Testimony. I'm feeling awfully Blessed once again to know that HE gives me what I need, when I need it.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Reviving the Drowned

We rushed in, hurried from anxieties of the afternoon. Despite recognizing The Lord several times throughout my day, I wanted more, but I knew I deserved nothing. I fought back tears as I took up space on the pew I didn't deserve to occupy because I knew I had not prayed hard enough, long enough, yet I was wanting more of HIM and I was drowning. As people filled the room and moved about, I thought of how much time HE had already given me this day and I began to thank HIM. My heart began to calm as I was thankful to be alive enough to recognize HIM.

Our Revival was about to begin. My ears perked as enthused hands clapped with the songs. I watched and listened as I expected The Holy Spirit to move through soon. Sweat formed from the uncomfortable heat in the room and I knew that too was probably a good thing. Being uncomfortable sometimes is just what people need. I took one look at that large cross still standing in the room wearing a crown of thorns atop the name Jesus and a cool chill ran down one of my arms. A familiar group of three walked to the front who had sang at our last year's revival and my heart beat with anticipation. Soft words began a trickle that would soon flood the room with the powerful flow only The Lord could have given them. I watched her and waited as her voice grew stronger and soon she closed her eyes and lifted her hand in Praise. As she belted loudly I could feel her song pierce right through my ribs into my chest. Her mouth opened wide to let loose of what HE gave her and I could have swore I saw white doves take flight right out of her. With her Daddy and brother standing by her side, all three were giving what they had, and I was thanking HIM for that.

The visiting pastor who was preaching our Revival walked over to the piano along with his wife. The brother of the lady who could sing doves began to press those ivory keys for the couple's song. This preacher's sound was unlike any other I had heard before. It was full of a diversity of tones I had never witnessed one voice hold.

Our own pastor noted how the singers delivered with authority and I pondered on that word for a while. He mentioned the words "Big Brother Jesus" which I haven't heard very often in my 38 years termed just like that. My eyes widened knowing I had read the exact same words just hours before, while at a local high school trying to teach a Bible study class. The Lord needed my attention and HE had it. I had studied with the children the verses in Hebrew chapter 3
13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
The visiting preacher stood to begin what The Lord had laid out for him. He spoke of a man mentioned in The Book of Mark that had a withered hand. He went on to say how he'd rather be stricken with a withered hand than a hardened heart. My heart was beating faster as the entire day was pulling together right before my eyes.

I had entered that room drowning in world of flesh and The Lord was letting me know, HE was still right there. I didn't plan to drown, but I had taken my eyes off of HIM, just like Peter did when he had once walked by Faith. I'm so thankful HE reached into my waters and pulled me back up.

I entered day two of Revival better than I had on day one. I didn't wait around to feel HIM, I brought HIM in with me. Another great night full of Reviving and songs. Children sang in voices that could melt even the most hardened of hearts of stone. I'm trying not to take my eyes off HIM today, I don't want to drown anymore. You can't see clearly under the water, you can't hear more than muffles under the water, and your every breath becomes labored and you sink lower and lower. I am Blessed this day, thankful for HIS hand once again.

The Sound of HIS Ring

I almost didn't answer the call to teach because my plan was to stay at home on this first day of April, this first day of my 38th year, this first day of Revival at our little country church. I wanted to be prayed up, I wanted to be where I needed to be Spiritually before I walked back through those glass doors to claim a spot on one of those old pews. I had a difficult choice to make here. I stood over the phone and listen to it ring, and I knew I had to answer. I knew HIS plan was bigger, HIS plan was better, HIS plan was where I needed to tread upon. On the other end of the line was high school teacher who told me the essentials and that I would need to just "muddle through" her Bible study activity period I would have mid-day and I could only smile as HIS plan began to unfold right before my eyes...

I rushed through my morning only to watch the clock as teens came in and out of my classroom. An old white dingy Bible sat on her desk and I gently pulled on the fragile gold painted zipper and opened The Book. I began reading Genesis chapter 23 silently which was about where I had left off at home. I must have read several chapters before I heard the bell ring and I knew it was time.

I watched the door knowing that I would soon be disappointed at the low number of children who would walk through that door but I figured there had to be three or four that would choose The Bible over archery or some of the other selections so my heart pounded as I waited for them.

Two walked in and found a seat, and another rushed in too. One minute until the late bell rang and I opened The Bible to Hebrews, which is what they were to study. I heard voices, and several walked in together and there must have been seven in the room already. I smiled at their young faces expecting to see a hardening from their teenage eyes but I saw no such thing. Thirty seconds until the bell would ring and I counted as more walked in, HE had sent me twelve. I was very pleased that this many had chosen to come and before that bell could ring, almost every seat was full. Seventeen teenagers came to study The Bible.

We reviewed, we read farther into the scriptures, and they listened. More than one spoke, and more than one answered my questions and every time I looked across that room, all of their eyes were on me. We only had thirty-seven minutes together but it did my heart good to witness a room fill up with children who are pressed with burdens, who are living tough times, who know sin and recognize it, but strive to live under HIS Word. I almost didn't answer that call, and I'm glad I knew the sound of HIS ring because what a Blessing I received on this first day, and I hadn't even made to church yet...