Light of the World, Light of my Heart

Blessed Epiphany!

What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out.

–John 1:4-5 The Message

I remember it like it was yesterday. Cold winter had set in, and I had decided it was finally time.

An embarrassing detail came up when I was asked to take a position in the church we’d attended for eight years. I hadn’t actually ever joined the church. It required more than I was willing to commit to and another confirmation, which I’d felt I’d taken care of properly many years before in the Methodist church. Honestly, I was a little miffed that the church didn’t recognize my profession of faith. After some deliberation and a bit of rebellion, I relented and decided to be confirmed on that cold Tuesday evening in January, the sixth day, Epiphany 1993.

I got to the church a little early and stood at the back of the sanctuary. Candles were lit everywhere to depict the day our church celebrated Jesus as Light of the World,–not just Light to the Jewish people, but Light to the Gentiles and the whole world, and that particular Epiphany night, the Light to my heart again. The bishop was coming and the ladies working altar guild were bustling around preparing the altar with perfect detail for Communion. The warm glow from the candles cast a beautiful light on the Cross that hung from the ceiling and a mysterious wavering shadow behind it. It was the perfect evening for an awakening (epiphany).

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My family was all a bit under the weather and couldn’t be there. I was okay with it until the bishop invited each of the confirmands to come to the altar, and he asked for family members to come and stand behind us. Everyone had their families there but me. I knelt down and told myself that it was a private moment anyway, and I didn’t need anybody but God and me to know. As quickly as I quieted my heart over being alone, I felt a hand softly touch my right shoulder.  I couldn’t turn around to look but I knew someone was there for me.  Finally, it was my turn. The bishop laid hands on me, and I felt a physical electricity go through me. I can’t explain it any better than that. I sensed God was pleased, maybe at my submission, my obedience, or maybe He was just pleased and was very present. I turned around and saw my sweet friend Liz, who’d been my witness, my touch on the shoulder. It tendered my heart so deeply. The vastness of the moment overwhelmed me, and I honestly couldn’t quite grasp how sweetly He’d shown me His love, His presence that night. Afterward, we took Communion together as a church family. I tasted the wine and the bread, and smiled to myself, thinking they’d bought good wine since the Bishop was visiting.  I later asked the Associate Rector and she said it was the same wine we always had. It definitely wasn’t. It was new wine to this prodigal. New Life. New Grace.

And almost twenty years later, I still don’t know totally what to make of that night. But I’m grateful. For a good God and a dear friend.

PS For old time’s sake, how about a sunday’s song?

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2013 SSMT 1 – Starting the New Year Well

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New-Year-Resolutions

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3

Well, here I am again staring at a new canvas. What will 2013 paint for us? God holds the paintbrush, and He is faithful.

Frankly, I’m a bit intimidated to start again here. I am taking on a lot of new things, and I am pretty sure I won’t be very good at all of it, but that is my struggle right now in several areas. Performance anxiety haunts me in several aspects of my life, and I’m tired. I’m tired of it keeping me from trying. I’m tired of caring too much what others think, and mostly, I’m kidding myself that it’s a secret that I’m not good at something in the first place. Hard to believe I’m in my fifties and haven’t figured that out yet, I know.

Anxiety is pride in its painted up form. It looks less innocuous when it’s called anxiety, more like a sickness than a sin. It’s what happens when I take the paintbrush and try to paint on my life canvas, instead of, like the verse says above, committing my work to Him, and letting Him plant firmly the brush in His Hands to unveil the next part of the picture.

I’m committing to 24 verses of memory work this year with the Living Proof Blog. Establishing my plan in His Word is the goal. No themes. Not a lot of order. Just showing up and waiting on Him twice a month. Simple and real. Would you like to join me on this journey? Join 5,000 other Siestas on this resolution for the new year here.

forgotten (but not abandoned) prayers

Truly, it was no more than a mustard seed of faith…I was going through some old books and found a prayer journal from six years ago. As I read each request from friends who had gathered to pray and some of my own heart’s pleadings, I wondered at God’s faithfulness and mercy at how each had come to fruition. Looking back, Ebenezer stones, remembrances of His faithfulness, marked my journey. Some requests were faith-filled, some were half-hearted (when pigs fly, but I’ll offer it anyway.) Some were desperate cries from a mother’s heart for healing, one a forlorn wife’s last ditch effort at reconciliation, another a grandmother’s hope in the next generation.

One prayer request brought streaming tears of gratitude to my eyes:

“9 January 2006  for C: a healing miracle that doctors are able to get every bit of the tumor, that there are no side effects that last and no recurrence, for his peace in next weeks of waiting; and guidance in another career for his life.”

I couldn’t wait to call my friend and read it to her and we would marvel together. At the time of her request, her grown child had a brain tumor that jeopardized his entire future and was robbing him of a career that he had spent his life in preparation for. It was serious. We were scared. But God saw every detail through in mighty ways. In the last six years, he’s experienced total healing, married, has two kids, and is back full time in his career of choice. Any one of those things were almost too much to hope for in those dark days but we prayed desperate prayers with his mom. At that time, she would have given anything to see any part of those prayers come true. Yesterday, I read her the prayer request on the phone, and it almost seemed taken for granted. It fell flat. Maybe she just couldn’t go back there where all that pain lived. Maybe she had too many new troubles on her plate, but I was stunned. She quickly dismissed the topic for the new day’s woes. However, as I read on in the prayer journal, I realized my vision and understanding was blurred by the log in my own eye.

In that same journal, another prayer totally took me by surprise. God had answered the deepest desire of my own heart long after I quit praying for it. Just this past fall, the prayer was answered, and I thought at that time, I haven’t asked for that in years! And I thanked Him then, but not adequately.  As I read my prayer request from years before, I remembered the flood of longing I felt as I asked God. In fact, I mostly recall the hopelessness I had with it. I was almost afraid to ask for it for the depth of fear if it had been rejected, even though I knew it was God’s desire, too. Somehow, I couldn’t pray with faith. It was too big and, certainly, too much to hope for. Looking back, it was a big deal. And it required nothing more than going to the Mountain Mover with the uttered plea.  Today, that particular chapter still has some pages to be written, but a brand new door opened that I would have sworn was permanently shut. And I testify that Jesus moves mountains!

So, with renewed extravagant Grace, I say to you this day, speak to your mountain in the mighty Name of Jesus, and believe that it has already been thrust into the sea. And He will most certainly answer.

Mark 11:23-24 ~”Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”