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Saturday, July 23, 2011

I'm Coming to Visit!

One of my best friends is coming to visit me in a couple of weeks and I'm really excited! I've been planning what we'll be doing, where we'll be going, what we'll be eating, and slowly tidying my house (unfortunately I've not been blessed with the talent of Martha Stewart). In the past three months, I've had the blessing of being able to spend time with several of my best friends and each time I would get ready to go and see them, I would relish the anticipation of that moment when I would pull in the driveway, or they would come out of the airport terminal, and recognition would light up on their faces. Friends are a very important part of my life, along with family, and each time I think of them, I am grateful to God for blessing me so much.

In church today, the pastor was doing a study of Isaiah 6 and he spent some time looking at verses 1 and 3. His focus was on God's presence in the temple and how the angels revered Him. The NIV says, ". . .I saw the LORD seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of His robe filled the temple. . .And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory."" He asked us to spend a moment thinking about God's presence in church and how we entered the doors that morning. "Do you think Isaiah said, Hey Daddy God, when he was in God's presence?" the pastor asked. Of course not, as we know that Isaiah felt overwhelmed with his own sinfulness as he stood in the presence of the God of the universe. 

The pastor reminded us of Elisha's servant, in 2 Kings 6: 8-23, who was terrified of the Aramean army who appeared to be surrounding the city of Dothan in an attempt to capture Elisha. When Elisha prayed, God opened the servant's eyes to see "hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." 2 Kings 6:17. The pastor said that if we could have our eyes opened, we would be able to see the church filled with angels, and that God's very presence was there.

I sat in the second to the last pew, contemplating the pastor's words. We had crept in during children's story that morning, having slept in after a long week, and we sat near the back so we wouldn't bring attention to our late arrival. Church at times was more of a duty than a joy, something I did because I knew it was good for me, like eating my fruits and vegetables, and not so much because I found fulfillment in worshiping. I guess I'm not the only person who goes through a dry spiritual valley, but sometimes it felt like that valley didn't have an end in sight.

I grew up in churches where I felt accepted, loved, and needed. The setting was different though, I was in the mission field where sometimes acceptance came with strings attached, and dynamics perhaps did not reflect the every day life back home. However, I did know there was something very different when I began attending churches in the States. Perhaps it was because I was an adult now, and I was expected to fill different roles that if I chose not to accept, meant I would be relegated to a church pew. Perhaps I was looking for an experience that the church was not able to give me, something deeper or more meaningful.

The question of church is one I am still struggling to understand. I know it is important because we keep our connection with God and fellowship with other believers alive by attending regularly. I recognize that the concept behind small groups can help build our relationship with God as we study with others and see different facets of God's character through discussion. I see how I can be blessed personally by giving my time and using my talents to help with needs in the church. But I'm not sure how to take what I know intellectually and put it into practice when I am looking for is an understanding that I cannot find.

As I sat in the pew this morning, I began to imagine what it would be like if I could see God's presence actually there. I guess I always thought that God was busy visiting other churches on a Sabbath morning, instead of realizing that He is omnipresent and therefore He could be in our church as well. I looked around at the many empty pews, because of campmeeting, and thought, "There are angels sitting there, and they are probably lining the walls as well." It was quite an awe-inspiring picture to imagine.

Take a moment and imagine with me what it is like when you know you are going to see someone who you are very close to, whom you haven't seen for a while. You are excited, counting down the hours, getting ready for their arrival, and then before you know it, they are there. You spend the time you have together talking, laughing, and catching up on the past months or years. What if we looked forward to Sabbath like that? What if every Friday afternoon, we began to anticipate the next day, preparing carefully, eager and excited to spend time with God? What if we woke up early on Sabbath morning, if we entered the doors of the church with reverence and awe, our hearts filled to overflowing that we could be meeting with God again? What if we found joy in knowing that God was just as excited to spend time with us, teaching us, loving us, and showing us His character?

While I may still be searching for a church where I will feel comfortable here, I think I am learning more about how to find God when I enter His modern-day tabernacle. And one day, God has promised that "from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before Me." Isaiah 66:23 Imagine what an amazing day that will be!

1 comment:

  1. We had a woman, Gayle Lasher, from Auburn Academy preach to us yesterday. It was great! She did "The Gospel According to Tupperware" for part of her sermon. It is a Louie Giglio sermon. It was AWESOME! Maybe you can find it on You Tube :)


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