Sunday, August 9, 2015

bloom and grow forever

I said I'd write tonight. I spent the  day with two of my nieces yesterday, spent today reading  Greek mythology for school, and spent the evening grocery  shopping because I have decided this is the year I'm going to take care of  myself at school, and that means that there must be breakfast at this house.

Now I want to go to bed, but I said that I would write tonight.

So I'm taking some advice that I would give to one of my students if she  knew that she needed to write a journal entry before bed but she was so sleepy she almost tripped and fell over a washcloth in the  bathroom. I would tell her to write what's been on her mind.

So here goes.

I've been thinking of the body of Christ. My little town has been going through a series of crises over the  last couple of months-- violent crime from bored/angry/misguided/who knows? youth has sprung up and the good men and women of this once fairly sleepy town have responded in so many and varied ways, and so many of them beautiful.

Honestly, they've just amped up efforts they were already pouring themselves into. Feeding the hungry, praying for the church, housing the homeless, offering Him worship, crying out for justice, caring for the elderly, loving the unlovable, giving their money, cheering on the discouraged.... so many jobs, so many faithful ones.

Anyway-- and  this is a little scattered, I guess-- I've been thinking about the body of Christ and why we're here and all of  the nuggets of gold He has been dropping  into my heart over the last  couple of months. Like, when my dear friend Kenny Peavy came to lead us in worship in my living room last month and he poured out words about the kingdom. Kenny said something like this: People are walking around all day looking and longing for the Kingdom-- for Jesus Christ-- and we walk up and bam, there it is! The Kingdom of God!

Selah. Pause and think about that.

We carry around with us the  power of  God. We carry around the answer to all of  the pain and sadness of the world. The One who can mend broken hearts lives in us. Our lives of  freedom and redemption are  proof of His ability and willingness to take  and redeem anything at all. He has shone His light deep into  us. And we have the treasure of His presence and His power in these jars of clay, evidence that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. He has taken up residence in us. His's here. And holy smoke, what can happen when the Kingdom draws near. What could happen if the Church were to say Yes? One mighty, holy Yes.

My friend Hayley sat on my front porch in the middle of a riotous display of God's power through thunder and  lightning, and she said, "Lord, You have my YES."

Yes. You have my yes.

I've been thinking about what happens when an army of believers  who have given Him their YES and who have determined that they will embrace the Kingdom of God within them, let His light shine through our faces and noses and elbows and toes, letting every word  drip with the richness of His life within us-- what would happen if that army rushed on the city? Climbed the walls? Loved every single kid they came in contact with? Prayed for instead  of cursing  their leaders-- even  the corrupt, weak, fearful leaders; the ones who have lost our respect? What would happen if the people of God held His Word aloft as our only weapon--the mightiest weapon for which there is no counter?

What is required of us?

We must submit to Him. I must submit to Him. He is worthy of it all.

We have to know Him.

We have to study His word, we have to listen close for His voice because His sheep know His voice, but I will tell you, it takes practice to recognize His voice in the middle of a world where things are hardly ever quiet and every single person you know has an opinion and many of them add "thus saith the Lord" to their opinions.

We are at a critical place (I speak to myself; I share my journal with you) where we have to invest in so much time with Him in the secret place where we are more used to the light of His glory than the light of our iPhones, televisions, and computers.

We have to run toward Him in worship-- musicians, non-musicians, it doesn't matter. His word says that He is looking for worshipers (John 4:23-24). I don't know about you, but if my God is looking for something that specific, then if I don't know anything else about what He wants, at least I know  THAT. What does it mean to worship Him? It's to give Him our attention, our words, our ideas, our hopes, our everything. It's to sit before Him in the quiet or in the loud and put our eyes on Him and tell Him how good He is and how much we love Him...and then wait for Him. Not metaphorically. Wait.

We have to come alongside Him-- figure out what He is doing and do that with Him.


These are some of the things I have been thinking about.

He has planted us-- we  are called to be oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor (Isaiah 61:3).

I want to be one of those oaks whose limbs bend and sway with the wind of the Spirit and whose roots grow deep into the soil of His presence and His goodness. I want Him to cut me down and use me to build. I want Him to call me up out of the dirt to stand with arms outstretched in worship. I want to bow or sway or burn, but for His kingdom. I want His Kingdom established on earth as it is in heaven because I love Him and it's what He wants. I want Him. There is nothing more important.

Night and day and day and night, let incense arise.

Bloom and grow forever.

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