Tuesday, 27 July 2010

station stops along the journey

In the process of going through my old blog posts and preparing to re-design this blog, I have been reminded over and over of where Papa has brought me in this journey.  Over the next few days, I will be re-posting a few items from the past.  Here's the first one:

This morning I was reading So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore? and God opened my eyes and a great burden was lifted from my shoulders ... and a great joy and peace and freedom dropped in its place… and suddenly I thought, “I don’t want to go to church anymore!" - a great freeing thought. It took away the fear I have been under about all that phrase has suggested to me…

... I was reading and suddenly felt God telling me to close the book and pray along, there on my living room couch, with those praying at the “pre-church prayer meeting.” I felt called to pray for unity, peace, moving of the Spirit among them… and at the service this morning, too…

And I was wondering, should I “go to church?” So I just asked God to show me when (and if) the time came, and I asked God to walk with me this day and help me see His people the way He sees them. At 10:20 hubby said, “Oh no, we’re going to be late for church,” and got busy getting ready. I just felt myself smiling and suggested maybe we were being late because of God’s timing. Anyway, we got there – and put our “stuff” on “our chairs” … and got our coffee… and the special hot chocolate Robert gives me! – but I did not feel like going to my seat, even though the music had started.

So I sat at the back, on a step, and just watched. It seemed to me that “the church” was really "being church" at the back by the doors as people came in, and ___ was greeting them… and then there was ___ wandering around doing her smiley, huggy, happy, welcoming people thing… and a little native girl came up to me and just stared at me with her big serious beautiful dark eyes… and some of the pre-teen girls were in the corner happily giggling together… and a couple men were just enthusiastically chatting together about something- quite loudly!… and when I had come in I had seen one of the men turn his chair around and take the hands of the sad-looking man behind him and pray for him…and of course a few people were standing in their rows facing the front, listening to the music, and a few were singing along, and others just kind of listening, or maybe even praying or just worshiping, yet some seemed to be standing there wrapped in some sorrow or pain…and there were little ones running about happily smiling, and folks were smiling back at them… and yet, astonishingly, hardly anyone was looking even slightly annoyed by all the goings-on, and that seemed so awesome to me, and so different than so much of the “church” I have known in my life…

And suddenly it seemed to me like I was sitting in a quiet place, alone, like on a beach on a hot, quiet summer day without a breath of wind, like the world was holding its breath… and then a sudden breeze was arising from nowhere, and the leaves on the trees started rustling, with the sound of a little babbling brook,and the air was becoming fresh and light, and there was a gentle feeling of joy and expectancy, like all of creation was sharing together a joyful little moment….

And as I looked about the church – God’s people – I could see Jesus walking about, and he was looking at the children playing, and the happy greetings, and the friendly chatter, and some singing while others just stood quietly, and all the things that some people so often think should not be happening in a church service… and He was smiling and happy, and walking among them, reaching out and touching the children's heads~ stopping to listen and watch and smile, moving - no, mingling - in the midst of His church, His people, the children of Father. And He was pleased them! Because they were being His church and He was among them and in them, and they were living His life with His Spirit there among them and in them. It was so beautiful.

It had nothing to do with the building, or the worship music, or the preaching, or anything that people can do. It was just Jesus and His people, abiding in the love of God, in relationship with Him and with each other.

Yes, there were some kind of dark places, mostly up closer to the front… it seemed kind of far off and I don’t know, kind of lonely… But Jesus was like in the middle of His people and facing them, looking at people’s faces, reaching out and lightly touching them, moving among them… The music drifted from far off in the background and didn’t seem too important, but every now and then there would be a swelling in it and a lifting of joy and I couldn’t help but join in for a line or two… yet it was also so lovely that the music wasn’t at the center at all.  Jesus was at the center, in the center of the room, not up front, and he was moving about with his hands gently reaching out, touching, loving, healing…

The “service” seemed to kind of fade away, and for a few moments it was just Jesus and His family having some happy family time together, His love just gently floating through and among His family, His church, His body, His people… 

And then one sister spoke encouragement and affirmation… And a brother gave a “freebie” – a word from God that was not “planned” … and I was hoping upon hope that more of this freedom in Jesus is coming…

So I was a bit disappointed when the “sermon” started… and I was, for a moment, distressed when I heard the words, “Let’s embrace this building that God has given us” – because God had just freed me from the whole building thing…

Yet just at this moment the speaker said, “God has set you free… and God has need of you in His kingdom…"

And I realized that God has His own plans and purposes for each of us moment by moment… and that for some it may be in this building and system… and for others it may be not in this building and system… yet each of us are part of His church, His body… and He will use each of us for His kingdom and He will integrate us into His church, and into Him... into the relationship He has for us, into His love, into His wonderful plan for our lives, exactly the way we are. 

He'll not leave us the way we are but will bring us, holding our life, into the person He purposes for us to be, into the good things He has for each of us. (I’m writing what the pastor is preaching! So this “sermon” is part of God’s plan for me, today, too… and it is encouraging me, because I’m here just because this is where He wants me today, and I’m not worrying about one moment into the future but waiting with anticipation for wherever each moment, each step with Him, takes me.)

Thank You, Father, that You love us! Thank You for Your Son’s sacrifice, for Your Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us. Thank You that I am always in Your Presence, wherever Your plans and purposes take me in any moment of time.

God, I don’t think I’ll be here much longer with this particular gathering of Your body... but whatever happens, I want only to be where You are, at the center of Your will, in total relationship with, and trust in You.

(February 2008)


Dan Allen said...

Great thoughts! I find it very interesting that many times when all the people get together in the building for the Sunday morning ritual that before it all starts you see real genuine fellowship, and often times it is interrupted by the official meeting, but you really do see people in fellowship and loving each other before and after all that.

Also I like that you recognize God's sovereign plan in the midst of something that may not be what it is supposed to be exactly. He uses it, he has used it in very tremendous ways in my life, and you see him using it everyday! Thankfully He doesn't wait for us to know exactly what we are doing before He uses us! If he did then none of us would ever be used!

I like that you are sharing stuff from your archives that otherwise many of us would never probably get the chance to read!

Thanks for sharing!


Norma Hill - aka penandpapermama said...

Thanks, Dan! That was one of the last services I went to there. I think Father was, while releasing me from that situation, also showing me that He is with His people wherever they are; He loves them, and always seeks to draw them closer to Himself.

It is about our hearts being open to Him (and, by extension,to each other), rather than what we do or don't do. Always, Jesus at our center!