Tuesday, September 21, 2010

this is your spiritual act of worship

We speak of Romans 12 and offering our bodies as living sacrifices. We acknowledge that life is to be our act of worship--that worship should not be shuffled off to one corner of our lives.

But as we go around and share prayer requests, I see that there is deep pain. There are serious concerns here. People are hurting.

The inevitable question is posed: "How can I live a life of worship when I am walking through life in so much pain?"

Does worship equal happiness? Does is always mean the raising of hands and joyous singing and smiles on faces?

I offer up a little something about living with God throughout the dark times and pain--that worship is more than how we conceive it--that maybe it's about walking with God in the every day, acknowledging our pain and grief and knowing that our Father grieves with us.

And then my husband gives better insight: "If Rachel and I didn't go through hard times, how would I ever know that we love each other?"

The light bulb clicks on in my head. The truth of this simple statement echoes into my heart. I know that my disposition tells me to run away from difficult things--to harden my heart or hide or ignore it. I want to run away from difficult conversations with Elliott, but we sit it out. We talk it through. And I always know he loves me, and he always knows I love him.

Isn't it the same with God?

And as we separate our own ideas of worship from the true spiritual act of worship mentioned in Romans 12, I would still encourage us to lift our hands up as a child lifts up her hands to her daddy... as if to say,

"I can't go on any more by myself. Pick me up."

Friday, September 3, 2010

When Plans Change: Victory through Christ

We have a plan. It is a good plan: a dinner date with new city friends. We leave from my class and arrive with time to spare. It is relaxing--fun--enjoyable. It is simple.

But as we turn the corner of yet another street void of available parking spots, I realize our plans must change. We are a half hour late with no parking space in sight. I search our phones for our new friends' phone number. We don't have it.

Finally--an idea: why don't I go upstairs to tell them and hang out until Elliott finds a spot?

It's a simple solution... unless you're a person with a recent history of severe agoraphobia.

Yet I knew it was the only solution, and so I step out of the car onto Rittenhouse Square and start searching for their high-rise, all the time keeping the Caedmon's Call song close to heart:

"This day's been crazy but everything's happened on schedule.
From the rain and the cold to the drink that I spilled on my shirt.
'Cause you knew how you'd save me before I fell dead in the garden.
And you knew this day long before you made me outta dirt."

God knew all of this craziness would happen. He knew I'd have to walk into a nearly-stranger's high-rise by myself. He knew, and so it must turn out okay. I must be okay in the end. I just have to keep going and trust him.

I walk into the cathedral-sized lobby and "announce" myself to the desk clerk. She calls up to their apartment and waits for an answer, and I'm grateful for the delay. I've never been in a place quite like this before. I'm intimidated. I keep praying for Elliott to walk through those doors. I walk slowly. I am overly thankful to everyone who helps me. I start to pace. She sends me upstairs, to floor 14.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

And so I walk, praying for the grace to trust and for the feet to walk in straight paths. I step out of the elevator into a long, ominous hallway a la The Shining. It's at this point that I think I might have a panic attack. As I walk down the hallway looking for their unit, I feel myself begin to shake. Tears swell up in my eyes and I feel the impending doom falling upon me.

And then:  something new.

He said to me:  "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness."

I repeat the verse over and over again with each step, and feel the peaceful presence of the HOly Spirit descend upon me.  I stick out my right hand and it feels like the Lord takes it and guides me through the self-imposed dark tunnel.  And so we walk hand in hand to my destination.  And I forget about the anxiety.  I forget about the overwhelming feelings.  I am present.  Here.

I knock on the door.
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