Butterfly Sparks Designs

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Seasons ... and Twirling.



The past few mornings have been light and cool, with just enough of a hint of Fall to tease me into the excitement I feel every year as the humid midsummer days relax into the softer beauty of Autumn.   The release from one season into another.   

But it’s not just the weather.  I feel the seasons changing in me, too.

Is it true, Lord?  Is this season coming to a close so that another can come?  

I feel the cool wind on my heart.  I see the leaves, fallen on the ground, tired from their exposure to months of extreme heat, making way for new growth on strong trees.  I sense it.  The time for harvest is coming.  Soon.  It’s almost here.  

The past 10 months have tested, challenged, tried, and proven my faith in the One who is my God over and over again.  I would not trade one day, one hour, one minute, or one single second.   Through every moment, He has revealed something new to me about Himself.  He has breathed new life into Scriptures that I’ve read hundreds of times.  He has breathed new Truth into me.   I am more hopeful for His preferred future for me than ever before. 

Your love is extravagant, 
Your friendship, it is intimate.
I feel like moving to the rhythm of your grace..."

To the melody of those words, and in anticipation of the new season to come, my inner child took over…

And right there, in my living room, without even thinking about it…

I twirled. 

If anyone had seen me, I doubt that words like “graceful” or “lovely” would be used to describe the vision of me dancing in my living room.  But I really don’t care.  

I twirled anyway.  Again and again and again.

And maybe, just maybe, from now on, when I sense the seasons starting to change, 

Instead of walking into them, 

I’ll twirl into them.

Because I can.  

Because His love IS extravagant.

Because no matter what, He is God and He is good. 


 (Reference: Casting Crowns, Your Love is Extravagant)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Story.


I sit here tonight, prayerfully considering how I will share my recent story in a very public way.  For hundreds to see in a few short days, and for even more to hear.  Yet I cannot stop thinking about her.  I wouldn’t be here to tell this story unless she had invested in me.  

Bridgette was my best friend from college. She lived out her love for God in a way that I had never seen before. I met her during my sophomore year at Kennesaw State.  Bridgette didn’t know me as you all do today, though.  Bridgette knew me as a lost young girl, desperately seeking validation and fulfillment in my own selfish desires and addictions. During the countless hours we spent together for all-night study sessions, enduring difficult classes together, and traveling across the globe for international debate team competitions, she took every opportunity to share the love of God with me. But I wasn’t interested in any part of it back then.   I cruelly made fun of her for her beliefs, and often.

Oddly, despite our spiritual differences, we were inseparable. I had tasted “religion,” and I had been badly burned and deeply scarred, so I had no interest in anything that remotely resembled it.  We had a weekly tradition to meet at IHOP on Thursday evenings.  Somehow, she was the one person – the only one -- in my life then who could convince me to pray or even think about God. Even with her difficult schedule and many other demands on her life, she was faithful every week to make time for me. Those few minutes talking with her each week were the only time that I thought about or talked about God at all, and even then, my heart was hard and skeptical. But Bridgette kept it simple. She didn’t whack me over the head with her King James Bible.  She merely told me her story … the simple, everyday ways that God was moving in her life. 

As we said goodbye in the IHOP parking lot on December 18, 1995, she hugged me more tightly than usual and said “Melissa, God is going to do great things in you, you just have to let Him,” and then she recited Jeremiah 29:11 to me: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” I had no belief at all that God could or would do anything with my wretched life, but it was evident that God had called her to great things. 

On her way home that evening, a drunk driver ran a stop sign and took her life. She died shortly after arriving at the hospital. Her last words were directions to her doctor to relay a message to the man who hit her… “Tell him that God loves Him, and that he is forgiven.” 

Her final moments in death reflected her life’s legacy…investing in others. At her funeral, her mother showed us the inscription in her Bible. She had written on the front flap:  "I want my life to bring lost hearts to You.” Oh, how God answered this prayer in my life and I am certain in the lives of so many others touched by her.

You see, Bridgette would not know the unexplainable impact that her bold, unwavering and unapologetic witness would bear on my life. She would not know that years later, the seeds she planted in my heart would come to harvest by my submitting my life to Christ. She would not have known the incredible impact that embracing God’s promise to us in Jeremiah 29:11 would have on my life as I responded to a call to ministry. She did not know then that the legacy of God living in and loving through her would live through me for His glory. She did not know any of this. God had not given her a “written guarantee” that her efforts would be successful. But she invested in me anyway. Because she believed. And God knew what would be born in me and others she touched with her life.

Her last journal entry (the day before her death) read:

“I had my ups and downs and I fell a few times, but I did not give up. Take a risk, chance it, trust in God. You will see what God can do with a willing heart." 

I made fun of her back then.  But tonight, I weep over my gratitude to her for loving me … and loving Him… enough not to give up on me.   

Her willing heart is written in each and every word of my story.

Sometimes we make it so much harder than it really is. We don't need a theology degree. Let’s just tell our story

Tell them how much He loves them.   
Tell them that He died on the cross with them on his mind.
Tell them how he made you new.  
Tell them all that He is the best thing that happened to you.

It’s really just that simple.