Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Like Diamonds

The landscape was alive. Grass  was soaked with midnight tears but the sun was high. A symphony of birds sang in every direction while a distant rooster lifted his voice above all, demanding a solo performance. I looked at my favorite tree and it was the darkest shade of evergreen, as it stood mighty in the field. I knew it was just a moment's perspective, for the tree to be covered in shade. On the other side, I knew the leaves grasped for the sun, holding it tightly until it was their turn to cool in the shade. I thought of Easter Sunday, Good Friday, and my Lord. How quickly days seem to pass, but I had not forgotten. I closed my eyes in the warmth of the sun and just prayed.

I asked for His Vision, His Light. I was thankful for what He had done and then I began to taste the dry, red air. The high pitched pinging rang through my bones as metal crashed down, penetrating the spikes through His flesh. Splinters of wood entered the gaping wounds of his back as the blood began to clot and dry. Voices spoke over each other in ancient tongue but the cries of a mother were understood by all. When I opened my eyes, shadows began to dance in the breeze. A woodpecker played percussion on an old oak tree. The grass held their diamonds of dew held high to meet the sun's glow. A soft heat warmed my flesh and I wondered how could they forget so swiftly. The world has moved on so quickly and I'm still at the cross.

I thought about church. I knew there more people still at the cross but we needed to move on to that Third Day. I wanted to be at The Tomb, where the stone had been rolled away. I teared up thinking of how He Ascended and I prayed again for the others, the ones who have never made it to the cross and the ones who have. I knew that there were some who saw the grass as green and the sky as blue but there were others, who see diamonds. Many walk into the ordinary, and that is quite common. I prefer to see the shine, hear the orchestra and feel The Spirit, even if that means meeting at the cross. We may bring our blades of grass still soaked with midnight tears but as soon as He shines, diamonds pop up in unexpected places to those who will lift up their last drop to Him.

He keeps giving, no matter how little I seem to give back. I asked to do more, to be more, to see more and feel more. I had to first pick up my own cross, and bear it and feel the weight of my own sins. I, like many in my church have a burden for others. Those seeking ordinary will rarely see diamonds unless we move them from the shade, into the light. Sometimes it's as simple as pointing the way. As the song leader said in our service, we can trip people up, cause hindrance without intention. I asked this day to not be blocking anyone's sun. I don't want to be the one who shadows their path, I want to be the one, pointing to the gems!

Blessed, as always.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

In my Palm

We raced to get there, and once again, we found ourselves on a different pew. Seeing new faces, hearing new voices in the crowd brought together by Revival was exciting as the piano began to play. Sweet sonnets lifted up towards Heaven as our little country church lit the darkened sky. Shadows filled the outside of the church as the full moon expanded objects from their usual shape and size. I wondered if passersby could see how His Light inside that building was doing the same thing. Hands that were usually cupped in the laps of many were uplifted this night. Bodies that were usually perched on pews were distributed along the carpet, bowing at The Altar.

A teenager could no longer stifle the flesh and he tore out from his pew and exclaimed the burden for which The Spirit had led him to share. He spoke of his grandpa being called crazy for many years for his Biblical beliefs and teachings. His story progressed to admit he was now a little bit crazy too. The power in his young voice captivated the assembly, and he apologized to the preacher who had driven there to preach. It was becoming more apparent with each passing Testimony, each passing song, that the preacher, might not preach. It happens often in our little country church. The Lord has Blessed us with many Special people over the years. It is commonplace for The Lord's Valuables to stand up and Praise, lift their voices with song or sit meekly and pray. Each Valuable in The Lord's House is to mind HIM, and only Him, and when everyone is of one accord, of one mind...preachers may or may not get to preach.

Songs continued one after the other and with each Testimony, I wiped my eyes clear. What seemed to be the closing of the night, our preacher kept requesting "one more verse." Some of them were claimed with bent knees at The Altar and others seemed to pass without response. As some were finishing prayer down on the carpet before the long beautiful piece of wood that has been bathed with many tears over the years, I saw her walking. Attached delicately to the other end of her arm, was her child. People were moving faster than I could take it all in. My feet started advancing me closer to the her and I soon found myself behind them both. Hands were all over the child's back and voices were praying over the sobbing child. I placed my hand upon her back, right over her heart and I knew I had been here before.
About three years ago, she had followed her mom up to The Altar. I wasn't sure if the child was praying for her mom, or for her great grandmother that would soon go live The King but I remember placing my hand on her back then too. My palm was outstretched and as I started to pray, I could feel her heart pounding beneath my hand. The slow rhythm was not what I expected from a seven year old child but it pounded deep, and I knew HE was there.
As I sat behind the now ten year old girl, I remembered her heart. I knew that I had felt that baby's heart when The Lord was listening to her and now three years later, I was holding her heart again...and He was not just listening, He was removing everything she was pouring unto Him and at the same time, He was giving her the one thing she'll hang on to for the rest of her life. I was praying the hardest I've prayed in a long time and the people surrounding her knew what was happening. Heads began to lift and glass had formed under the eyes off all, and many began to chuckle, realizing what was taking place. Her head finally lifted and someone asked her what had taken place and she shouted with wet eyes and a big smile, "Well, I believe I just got Saved!!!" Hearts were full and she followed with, "I can't wait to tell everybody!!" and that was a Miracle that had taken place right in front of me.

People went back to their pews but nobody wanted it to end. One mom noted that her kids needed to be in bed at the late hour but she just wanted them to stay right there. I felt the same way, I didn't care if we Worshiped all night, it wouldn't compare to what He's given to us all. More tears were shed and more Testified but eventually, The Lord knew we needed rest and He sent us back to our houses. I know everyone is looking forward to tonight. It may be the official close of the Revival but if everyone in that room carries a little bit of that fire with them as they travel on their way, they can set the darkest room aglow. Feeling Blessed as always in my little country church.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ninety-nine and One

I dreamt in hymns all night. Everything was a familiar song with a new taste. I took my hunger outside to wait for the sun. Instead of the porch of the old cabin, my aging stilts took me across the field. The grass at the cabin is much greener, but today, I was to travel through the treated field where the weeds once grew. Death crunched beneath my feet and I stopped to look for new life under all the hinderance, to see where the green field lies. I turned and looked around at the valley below, shadowed by the clouds for now, but I knew the sun was rising so I faced it again. Tempted to go back for sleeve to cover my bare arms, my feet didn't budge. It would be worth the wait, and I didn't want to miss a moment, even if it meant standing before a cloud. My eyes closed as soon as the light broke and a smile lifted my face. My back met the heat as I turned again to the valley. There was a shine upon the land. Flowers and trees lifted in praise and I thought of church. The service I had not intended on going to, the one overshadowed with earthly duties and the flesh of tired bones. Guilt, shame and conviction eventually drove me back to that little white church, and the desire for more...

I saw hands going up, one by one. I was on my pew, feeling That Touch. New voices rang through the church this day, this night, and though they had been there before, they were different this time. The piano soon became still as the singers escorted our attention to the front. They walked up with nothing more than the sound of their own voices to offer, but they were doing it for Him...and they gave what they had. Tears welled forth, and that is all I could offer my Lord, a scanty thank you for someone who has given so much to me, despite my fleshly worth. 

Inhaling a deep breath, I lifted my arms, said nothing to the world around me, but yet He still heard it all. Tears rolled from my eyes as I walked toward my house. I wanted my Bible. I have barely read any of it, lacking the deep roots needed for comprehension, but my feet walked on. When I came back outside, I had a Bible, and an old hymnal, and I still didn't understand why. I took rest upon the old cabin's porch and opened the hymnal. The words, "The Ninety and Nine" were right in front of me. My eyes exploded with grateful tears and it became hard to see through them, but He knew what He was doing. Suddenly, the sheep gathered at Sunday morning's service, made sense.

I could smell the cedar from the once stored-away book and the tanned page waited patiently for me to read the words. I had never heard of the song before so I read softly aloud,
"Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine; Are they not enough for Thee?" But the Shepherd made answer: "This of mine Has wandered away from me, and although the road be rough and steep, I go to the desert to fine my sheep. I go to the desert to find my sheep."
"Lord whence are those blood-drops all the way that mark out the mountain's track?" "They were shed for one who had gone astray Ere the Shepherd could bring him back."
"Lord whence are thy hands so rent and torn?" "They're pierced tonight by many a thorn. They're pierced tonight by many a thorn."
But all through the mountains, thunder riven and up from the rocky steep, There rose a glad cry to the gate of Heaven, "Rejoice! I have found my sheep!"

Crying and laughing at the same time, I knew He was leading me to the Bible story of the 99 and 1 but I didn't know where to look. I closed my eyes and spoke the words, "Show me Lord." The word Luke presented itself but instead, I needed to turn to Mark, so I did just that. I began to read the parables and my eyes were clear. They darted and locked on every single word rather than the usual flow. I knew He had purpose and I hung on the intent of every word. I began to understand. Sowing seeds on stony ground will hold no root, the sun will scorch and wither it away. The ones sown on good ground, will yield fruit and increase. I had went to bed last night with disappointment on my heart for the ones who bow down to earthly things. Those that worship chosen lifestyles, chosen professions, whatever that may be. They walk for tangibles rather than walk with their own Maker, their own Lord and Savior, so I needed to hear that this day, and He gave it all to me. Taking care of your earthly possessions is one thing, but bowing down to them, giving them your all, instead of giving to Him can wither the soul. The soil isn't deep enough to plant your hope in earthly things. Often the seeds that matter, get planted atop rocks and I needed to remember which seeds belong where, and He gave me that.

I turned over to Luke 15 and read of the sheep, the one that was lost. These days it often seems like there are fewer and fewer of the 99. It seems like everywhere I look, I see a lost sheep. It is a struggle everyday to walk through the desert. It's not within my flesh to brave the rocky steep, to walk within thunder to seek the lost sheep. It's not within my flesh to wrap my arms around the one that is lost, to bring it back, to show it the way Home. But The Lord has renewed my purpose. I could stay home, hide from the sheep and pretend I don't hear their cry and wait cowardly, hoping they'll find Home on their own. I could pretend I don't see the wither of those nearby, that I don't hear the dry mouths that speak but denying their thirst when I know where the water is, withers me too. I have to answer for that. HE is so very Worthy to face the thorns. But I believe in Him, I know where the good ground lies. I know where the seeds belong, and by giving them water when they thirst, they WILL bare fruit, and show increase. I am Blessed this morning, thank You Lord for the sun [Son], thank You for the seeds, thank You for the good ground...and most of all, thank you for showing me the ways of a shepherd...for I once was the one lost.