Butterfly Sparks Designs

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

On Holy Ground

This is a picture of my drive home from church this past Sunday. The weather was not pretty!

Most of you know that I’m seeking a new church home. On Sunday morning, I attended a service at a small church plant up in North Gwinnett County, which meets in an elementary school. During an extended time of prayer while the pianist played a beautiful rendering of “Holy Ground”, I bowed my head to pray, when I caught sight of the floor, only to notice that the pattern of the “tile” was distinctly similar to the lunchroom during my early grade school years. The reality of the “rustic” setting in which I was worshipping gave me pause. I silently sang the words to the song playing in the background…

“Let us praise Jesus now…
for we are standing in His presence on Holy Ground…”

These words reminded me that no matter where we are – whether it be a large sanctuary or arena with impressive staging and sound, a school cafeteria, a grocery store, our workplace, or a remote area of an impoverished nation – as long as we are locking our eyes and hearts on Him, as long as we are seeking His presence, as long as we are lifting praise to Him, then His presence is with us... and thus, we are on Holy Ground. It matters not what is around us. It is not a steeple or pulpit or stage or sound system or projector or fancy lighting that makes a place of worship. It is the heart of each and every person there. It is the absolute abandonment of ourselves in worship to Him. It is us, merely standing in His presence. It was a humbling reminder.

As Nancy continued to play the song, the brewing storm outside became more intense, and quickly! Just moments after we entered into prayer under the serenade of this hymn, fierce claps of thunder and piercing lightning came from the sky. The storm was here, and it was brutal. I am normally a little skittish in thunderstorms. I get a little uneasy and when at home, I will close all curtains and blinds until the storm passes, just to ease my mind. But sitting there, in that elementary school cafeteria, I stared outside right in the face of the rain and lightning, and fought back every urge I had to stand up and belt out the words to the song at the top of my lungs. (It was my first visit, after all!) But in that moment, I had a powerful sense of the victory that He has given us over the storms in our lives. What an awesome picture of the almighty power, faithfulness, love, and protection of our God.

Psalm 91:1: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sweet Virginia

I miss my Mama today. I've been thinking about her a lot lately, missing our talks and especially her hugs that were so tight you couldn't breathe! To feel close to her, I pulled her Bible off of my bookshelf last night and ran my fingers over the pages she read every day, yellowed with decades gone by and filled with her written notes and thoughts. On the front flap, in her sweet handwriting, she wrote "I want God to be the center of my life."

As for our Mama, I doubt she's missing us one bit. She's rejoicing in heaven and sitting before the very God she served with her life. And she's probably making lots of biscuits. And decking all of heaven out with her beautiful yo-yo afghans and pillows.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ready, Set, Jump!

When I was in elementary and middle school, I was not a big fan of Phys Ed class. I hated it. I was a prissy little girl, concerned with my clothes and my hair. I hated to sweat. And for those of you who know me, you know that those things have not changed very much. (OK, so my brief stint in mountain biking several years ago was fun, but it didn’t last. I was, however, the only biker on the trail with riding gear that ALWAYS coordinated with the color of my bike, and lips perfectly lined with kiss-me-red lipstick. I fell. A lot. But if I was going to fall, at least I looked darn good doing it.)

Anyway, despite my disdain for Phys Ed class, and my utter lack of athletic prowess, there was one activity that I loved. The Standing Broad Jump. The fact that I can say that I enjoyed anything related to track and field events makes me laugh out loud. But as a kid, I loved this. For those of you who may not remember, this was a game where you would stand at a line, just behind a sand pit. Our teacher would shout the cue…”Ready, set, jump!” And from a standing position, you would jump into the pit, and the length of the jump was measured. The farthest jump was marked by a yellow flag in the sand. The person who jumped the farthest, with both feet landing together and not falling backwards, was the winner.

I am not sure why I loved this little event so much. Perhaps it was because it wasn’t a contact sport. Or maybe it was because I didn’t have to run and get all sweaty. I loved that it wasn’t “Dodgeball” day, when I literally feared for my life. I’m not sure what the lure of a pit of sand and a yellow flag held for me. But there was just something about standing still and summoning all of the strength I could muster from standing firmly planted on solid ground to propel myself as far as I could into the “sandbox”, not knowing where or how far forward I might land. I jumped with all of my strength, as high as I could. I remember Mrs. Stafford, my P.E. teacher, suggesting to us that we look at the yellow flag from the longest jumper and focus on a mark past it. I would fix my eyes on the asphalt waiting on the other side of the sand and would mentally charge myself to jump as close to it as possible.

Tonight, as I write this, I feel like a child again, standing at that chalk jump line. Just as I stood on the asphalt at the line as a child, I now stand firm on the solid ground that comes from knowing that the course of my life is in the center of God’s will. But He is now asking me to jump, yet again. All I can see from my perspective is a desert of sand ahead of me. But what a gift it is to jump from that standing position. He is the solid ground from which I will propel. But I must admit, it’s still a little scary. There is a weird mix of adrenaline, excitement, anticipation, and curiosity about what is next...and when. I know that at the perfect moment, He will call me to bend my knees, push off, and fly across the desert, that Great Divide, to the very spot that He has already marked for me with the flags of His promises and faithfulness. I can rest in knowing that He will ensure that both of my feet hit the ground and that I don’t fall backwards.

I have to remind myself that I must place my security in who God is, and not in the circumstances swirling around in my life. Sometimes it is hard, because the circumstances seem to be the reality of life. But the true reality is not in the circumstances…the true, unwavering reality is in our great God who sees the entire picture and is always working on our behalf.

One of my favorite verses is Hosea 2:14: So now I am going to draw her back to me. I will lead her into the desert. There I will speak tenderly to her. . . when she rests in me, I will give her back her vineyards.

This verse reminds me that He calls us to see the invisible, to commit to the impossible, and to do the outrageous. He never calls us to do what we can — only to do what He can through us. He calls us to rest and to live in His faithfulness, and only then can He return us to the vineyards of His fruitfulness in us. God will lure us into the desert sometimes —circumstances beyond us—and He asks us to endure the desert with no other thought than that His great heart will sustain us. And may we remember that the desert is all about discovering the faithfulness of God.

Ready... Set... Jump!