I hung up the rain coats, straightened the gum boots on the rug. The 100th time today…but this time I wept. How is it that the smallest size listed on those coats is a 5? How did these years fly so fast? Today I have huffed and puffed as I picked up her markers ‘again’, the 700 strings he cut in zip line maintenance, the socks in the middle of the floor from the rush to the hot tub. I missed out on the trip outside. Cleaning up the things that will be back on the ground in ten minutes. I lectured, I stormed, I ranted. I crashed the symbols in their little ears, drowned the sound of all the whispered “I love yous”.
Once upon a time I saw a family at church. The husband and wife were desperate to praise. We don’t offer a kids program yet at this service and so the little girl was beside them with a Barbie doll. The two grown ups would throw their hands in the air reaching for heaven with all their strength, their faces desperate in the act of worship. Or perhaps they were trying to get God down? Kingdom come, NOW. But then. The little girl would make too much noise, kick the seat, jump around and their eyes would fly open they would aggressively tell her to tone it down, march her out of the sanctuary.
The passion of the worship was eclipsed and I thought about that little girl and the symbols going off in her head right now. God is a God of what?
Once upon a time I had a friend. I was envious of her dynamic relationship with God. She was always deep into scripture, going through SOMETHING. God was always teaching her. It was beautiful. Sometimes though, she was so deep in the ‘furnace’ that she could not see out, could not even see those of us in the room with her. Sometimes Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego we were, together in the blazing coals, but she could not see me. She had the capacity to look through me, around me, not even notice I was there.
We watched the figure of God in the furnace there with us but we could not hear the clanging on the metal furnace door, the people left on the outside, asking to join us, despite the risk of burns.
The other night my son crept up the stairs to the pulpit as my husband prayed for someone on stage. He crept up in sweat pants 4 inches too short and my husband wrapped his arm around him as the boy arrived at his leg. There are times in my life when I would have panicked, run, grabbed him. But we’ve made the conscious choice to invite our children into ministry with us. It will not ever be something that takes daddy away from them, it will be what our family does together. We will enjoy it, together. It will be messy. But it will be real.
Our God, He hasn’t called us to a cloistered life, hold up in that cabin all alone. He hasn’t called us to worship Him ONLY when the music is playing. He has not called us to worship at the expense of others. Your life of worship and devotion needs to exist even when the days are busy…more so. Your life of Loving God and man needs to be active ESPECIALLY when we are overwhelmed .
Are there times when you will need to carve out spaces for intimacy with Him alone…YES. But.
Often there are others here too. These kids. This man. These are my primary ministries and the circles of influence as they expand around us. And I cannot honour HIM if I do not honour THEM.
I am a bit of a mystic if I may be so bold. I expect relationship with God, a back and forth. I am prone to the passions, the highest heights the deepest depths…I feel them. And I love to worship too, eyes closed, furnace blazing. But. The clanging symbols in my life can completely eclipse my devotion.
Oh God. Don’t let me add to the noise.
13 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
2 If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.Love cares more for others than for self.Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.Love doesn’t strut,Doesn’t have a swelled head,Doesn’t force itself on others,Isn’t always “me first,”Doesn’t fly off the handle,Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,Doesn’t revel when others grovel,Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,Puts up with anything,Trusts God always,Always looks for the best,Never looks back,But keeps going to the end.
-1 Corinthians 13: