Church was beautiful today. It truly is every week... but this week was special. We had a guest speaker: a young man from out west who will be moving here with his wife and two-year-old son this June to intern at our church for a year or longer. I've heard him preach before and can remember this feeling of excitement at hearing such passionate, truth-filled, mature preaching.
We had other guests as well. A whole group. So we had three new faces on the worship team today. One singing. One playing guitar. One playing the pastor's konga drums. I could feel the music, full and swelling, today. Mistakes. Smiles. The congregation. Some looking ahead to the words on the screen behind me. Others with their eyes shut. Us on the platform with our eyes fleeting back and forth; out to the people with whom we worship and down to our sheets of music. So imperfect. Sometimes so concentrated on that certain part of the song where we tend to mess up that we forget the words... but, together... all thanking... all worshiping...
All voices praise-lifted.
Then there was the potluck. Oh yes, the church tradition. I remember being nervous at my first potluck here at this little church. It was about a year and a half ago. You never know how it will turn out. For all you know, the women at this church could be famous for bringing the most horrific dishes to the main table. For all I know, the food I'm innocently scooping onto my paper plate might be Mrs. Smith's infamous gruel!
God was gracious to me. More than gracious... I have as yet to taste something bad at our potlucks. :-)
So, post-service, post-songs, post-preaching was filled with loud laughter, conversation, prayer, and great food.
Then I came home... changed out of the tights and black skirt into the warm socks and friendly jeans. Braided my hair out of the way. Sighed, sank back on my bed. Slept for a while... how can you not love a Sunday afternoon nap?
But the real beauty... the beauty that made the early part of the day radiate so much stronger... was afterwards.
After quickly eating something after my nap (to make sure my stomach is full for Bible class tonight), I sipped my Starbucks Coffee Mocha Frappuccino (courtesy of the local grocery store) and read my devotions. For starters, I read a chapter of the incredible book I've been going through... it tells me of thankfulness, grace, seeing that everything from God's hand is beautiful- even what we'd see as ugly. I write notes in my journal... naming gifts from God.
My pen scratches paper. My thoughts praise-lifted.
I read my daily Proverb, marvelling at God-given wisdom. Then I turn to the book of John. The gospel written by the disciple whom Jesus loved. Jesus feeds five thousand with a gift so small it doesn't even seem to matter. Jesus walks on water. Jesus teaches hard truths and followers leave Him. And then He asks his twelve special followers and students if they want to leave too. And Peter replies, "To whom shall we go, Lord? You have words of life..."
Peter has seen the miracles. He has heard the teaching. He knows the truth.
To whom shall he go?
I was struck. Even now it brings shame, hot and dark, to my face. I have seen the great things my Lord has done. I believe He is the Christ, the Son of the living God... I ask myself: To whom shall I go?
I shouldn't go anywhere but to Him. Yet I have and do.
This week my eyes have seen the wonders of His creation... but they have also seen, wide open, the sin of this world and not turned away in disgust. My ears have heard the bold teaching of truth... but they have also been tickled by the sultry voice of the world and I have not lifted my hands to shut out the sound. I have read and considered the Word of God... but my thoughts have not been all-pure, all-honoring, all-glorifying.
It is painful when the Word-Sword slices you open. But the area is infected and must be drained of the poison. So, the slice must be true and as deep as it takes.
To whom shall I go? To One who thrusts the Sword deep and searches out all that is within.
To whom shall I go? To One who heals, restores, and has given me the strength to overcome.
To whom shall I go? To One who has words of life. One who will fight for me. One who has already won the battle of my soul.
One who will help me to live the Praise-Lifted life.
To You I shall go, my Lord.
It is my shortcomings that make my Savior all the more powerful when He uses me. It is my impurity that causes His purity to shine so brightly through me. It is my ugliness that makes His perfect beauty so strong, so obvious, that I can't help but praise Him. It is a painful beauty today... because He is so opposite of what I know my sinful nature to be. But then I think of His life-filled words, the words that gave Peter no choice but to follow Him. I remember that now, when my God looks at me, He sees the power, purity, and beauty of Christ.
O how marvelous... O how wonderful...
Is my Savior's love for me.
To You I shall go, my Lord. Please, only to You.