Sabbath...Holy Gratitude!


 
Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arrogance in love; it’s never rude, crude, or indecent—it’s not self-absorbed. Love isn’t easily upset. Love doesn’t tally wrongs or celebrate injustice; but truth—yes, truth—is love’s delight! Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what. Love will never become obsolete. – 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a (The Voice)

The snow fell soft transforming the landscape new and clean. The wind blustered as peace fell deep, bundling tight under covers, canceling all engagements, I did what any introvert longs to do – I hibernated. It was glorious; Saturday last. While I was looking forward to my plans I was equally relieved to be able to stay indoors and shut the world out. The beautiful thing about introverts is that we are comfortable being with ourselves. The bad thing about introverts, at least this one, is I struggle unearthing my head out of my shell. I burrow deep and pray I can sleep till spring. My thoughts, ever busy, can also be a trying minefield.

So, while this unexpected day was a blessing it was terribly hard for me to stretch my atrophied limbs and face the sun warming frigid earth. Yet, I did. My brain was still playing less than holy thoughts of Chris Pine. The numbing had invaded my spirit. I was present in body, but not in mind. I begrudgingly went to Sunday service.

The scripture verse for the morning service was Acts 1:8:

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me[a] in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

As I navigated through this sermon I was met with some hard truths and beautiful revelations:

-         Most of us do not believe to the point of rejection, but we must believe unto death!

-         The power and love of God is a beautiful mystery.

-         God has work for me that no one else can do.

-         And, what is my motive? Why do I do the things I do?

The softening had begun. I did not want to be captive to base thoughts, but renewed in my mind. I wanted to accept the power that lives within me and to be a witness in my neighborhood, all of Winchester, Kentucky, and the far reaches of the world.

The afternoon was met with an invitation. Tamera was speaking at First Fire. The wonderful women’s group there had just completed Idol Lies by Dee Brestin. I had traversed this transformative study with the beautiful women who came last summer at Christ Church in Winchester. I truly felt led to go. I love Tamera, as so many of us do, and wanted to be a support to her, but I was stepping outside my comfort zone because I loved Jesus. I caught a glimpse of how much He loves Tamera and I wanted to watch Him love on her as she loved on these women. She truly has a special gift as a Shepherdess.

I have to digress here a moment. My beautiful friend Dawn had me take a personality test last night. I rarely read into these sorts of things. I take myself as I am for the most part. The wondrously scary thing about this test was how it seemed to peel back layers with less than comforting accuracy. One of those would be my facial expressions. As I said before I am often wondering the hills and dales of my mind. My face is often a "tell" and can be read wrong by others. I have had so many people say, “Are you alright?” I really have no idea what they are speaking of because I am feeling quite alright, but apparently I have a horrid look upon my face.

So, as I am walking into First Fire I am praying to be a presence for Tamera, a blessing to others, and to not make a face!

As I enter the building I am greeted by the warm arms of my beloved sister. Tamera’s hugs, as with most things she does, are purposeful. They move in slow and savor, often unfurling the knots knocked in one’s soul from the past week.

There stood her beautiful daughters. I do not know these women well. I wanted to wrap my arms around them, but I shied. There are times, I fear, they have caught glimpses of the ugly in me. Yet, God has placed them on my heart to pray for these extraordinary women. It is a treasure when God reveals His love for others to me. He peels back the veil a bit and I get to see how He truly sees His beloved – how unbelievably captivating they are to Him.

Some people we are meant to sojourn with in the rocky spaces of life and some we are simply meant to pray through their rocks, brambles, and briars (psst…I pray they find their “ram in the thicket” there). So, it is with these Vaughan women - these beautiful captivating creations. It is glorious to see how God sees them. It causes my skin to prickle. I am standing on Holy Ground!!  

Tamera introduced me to one of her “Seeds” entries, “Denise – A Mighty Tree” and her daughter Anna. I could see the gentle strength in Denise. The roots run deep in this woman and she bears rich fruit in a humble way. I was immediately taken with her and her beautiful daughter. Anna and I began to talk. I love fellowship with believers when it cuts through to the core. Again, I saw God’s heart for Anna. It was if He took this beautiful woman’s heart and placed it in my weathered hands. I felt incapable of holding its beauty.

As I sang, prayed, pleaded that God would give me “trust without borders” my self-centered closed off heart had blossomed. It was open, fully out of hibernation, ushered into the throne room, and ready, on bended knee, to receive His love.

The verse I am putting to memory is Ezekiel 36:26:

26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.[a] (NLT)

 The love of God is planted deep. There is not a performance test to obtain it and God will never revoke it. It is a fount of living water. It pours over us as anointing oil – lending healing, power, and abundance to our lives.

Tamera spoke these things and we drank deep healing draughts.

I claw at immediate comfort. It is instant and satisfies my beastly inadequacy. I want to quell the beast I’ve created. God takes too long. He wants to give Himself to us, and in order for that to happen He reaches in to the root:  pulling and tugging, cutting, plowing, leaving one feeling like Eustace in the “Voyage of Dawn Treader” (Aslan tearing through the scales releasing the tiny boy from the dragon). Yet, I marvel at how good it feels to swim in the warm waters of healing, once the tearing is done. I look upon my stones and wood and wonder how I ever saw them as priceless jewels. My heart, warmed by His tender heartbeat for me, basks in the love of her Savior. I cannot imagine being anywhere else…until I see the next shiny thing.

In conclusion Tamera spoke of Gomer, how we are like her, how she had no support group and that every woman was competition in her eyes.

My heart grew heavy. How I compare? How I try to be more?

I am enough because He created me and His blood covers me.

Other women, other sisters in Christ, are not my competition. They are my sisters. They can help me grow, learn, turn from idols, and set my heartbeat with the rhythm of His.

I expected good things that day, but I didn’t expect Holy Communion. Why is that? It is all that He desires to do…to gather us in the shelter of His wings.

 

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