Aren’t We All a Little Mary Magdalene?

I was leaving Easter Sunrise Service this morning. The reading from John 20 got me thinking.

Aren't We All a Little Mary Magdalene?

Mary had been profoundly touched by Jesus so she followed after Him, got to know and love Him, and was there at the foot of the cross (19:25). Seeing Him die on that cross must have begun a mind-blowing crisis of faith. This is not what she thought was coming.

Bereft, confused, she continued to seek answers in the fellowship of other disciples and in her religious traditions (20:1, 10).

In the midst of trying (unsuccessfully) to go through the motions of a ritual (anointing the body), she encountered something fully, terrifyingly, utterly supernatural…and she totally didn’t get what was going on. (20:13)

In that place of, “What? Look, can somebody please just help me here?” she came face to face with VASTLY MORE of Jesus than she had ever encountered before. It was so beyond her experience that she didn’t even realize it was His presence in front of her. (20:14)

She responded with an effort to make sense of it all and DO something…anything…to get her footing back. (20:15)

Jesus reminded her of their intimate relationship. He called her by name. In revealing that He knew who she was, she suddenly was able to see who He was.

ISN’T THIS ALL OF US?

He reaches into our lives and touches us, blesses us, provides for us, and if we aren’t foolish we respond by lovingly following after Him for more. Then life happens; we are blind-sided by things we cannot foresee or control, and we are left shaking.

Bereft, confused, if we are wise we continue to seek answers. Maybe the fellowship of other believers helps; maybe study and solitude; maybe religious traditions.

But somewhere in the midst of trying (with always less than total success) in our own strength to sort it all out, we encounter a whole big piece of GOD that we have not encountered before. We may not even realize that this is His presence in front of us at first.

We usually respond with an effort to do SOMEthing to put this very overwhelming GOD into a framework we can understand and manage, but He is not interested in fitting into our boxes. So He makes clear to us who He is by revealing to us again (and again, and again) who we are…because only He knows us so intimately.

And we are left with our mouths hanging open in astonishment, our hearts overflowing with awe and gratitude and wonder, and our minds still mighty confused for the most part. We then choose how we will respond.

Mary did it this way:

She responded by calling Him “Teacher” – the name she had used for three years as she depended on Him for instruction in truth. She still didn’t understand, and in calling on her Teacher, she once more humbled herself to the authority of wisdom from heaven.

(I want to respond like Mary.)

Then Jesus told her yet another thing that was beyond her understanding (20:17). And when He left her – still mind-blown and clueless for the most part – she chose to go to her brothers and sisters and testify to what she had seen and heard, even though she couldn’t possibly have explained it to the others.

I am often afraid to respond like Mary.

I would rather have my mind wrapped around a thing before I try to share it with others. But if I trust Him to be Teacher, can’t I trust Him to reveal wisdom from heaven to all of us in His time, in His way, to His glory and for our good?

What if my testimony about what I’ve seen and heard in all of its incomplete, clueless, “no-I-can’t-exactly-explain-what-it-all-means-but…” humanness is just what might help someone else keep seeking?

I want to respond like Mary.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

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“Walking on Water” by Madeleine L’Engle Is Rocking My World

Anybody else read this book?
How have I lived this long without it??

“Reflections on Faith and Art,” she calls it.

3/4 of the way through the book I looked in a mirror:

“Perhaps the artist longs to sleep well every night, to eat anything without indigestion, to feel no moral qualms, to turn off the television news and make a bologna sandwich after seeing the devastation and death caused by famine and drought and earthquake and flood.

“But the artist cannot manage this normalcy. Vision keeps breaking through and must find means of expression.”

A whole series of posts will be coming out of this one. I think I am even going to give myself time to write them over the next few weeks!

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

This is from a message I shared at my home church a few weeks ago.

It’s my passion.  It’s the reason for the name of this blog.  It’s changed my life.  I  believe it will continue to change my life going forward as well.  I pray it will change yours, too.

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Read Revelation 4.

Here it is in the NIV (thanks to Biblegateway.com):

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits[a] of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

“‘Holy, holy, holy

is the Lord God Almighty,’[b]

who was, and is, and is to come.”

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they were created
    and have their being.”

Is it just me, or does that all remind you of the scene in the movie The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Lion enter Oz’s great and terrible emerald throne-room?

Can’t you just hear the booming voice in your head?  “COME FORWARD!”

I have loved that Oz story for a long, long time, and I could spend several blog posts telling you all the reasons why, explaining all the symbolism that exists in it for me (regardless of L. Frank Baum’s intent).  But I won’t today.

Because today the point is this:  most of my life I read Revelation 4 and saw God’s throne through Dorothy’s eyes, and subconsciously played the scene forward to…

DISAPPOINTMENT.  Betrayal.  Confusion.  Despair.

There was no great and powerful Oz.  There was only a man  behind the curtain, a man who hoped we would not notice how small and weak he was…hoping we would not find out that he was a humbug.

This is the experience of so many people who go to church looking for God.

They enter through the glass doors thinking that’s the way to enter the throne room of God.  They have a need that must be met; they tremble in fear of what will happen to them, and they receive orders to carry out difficult tasks so that they might receive blessing and provision.  (Read your Bible more, give to the poor more, bring me the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West…)

At every moment they fear that Toto will pull back the curtain to reveal that it’s all humbug, just a show, and they will be left in despair.

The truth is that many people ARE betrayed…because they don’t realize that they are in the wrong throne room.

The organization called the church is not the throne room of God.  It was never intended to be.  You are no closer to God in a formal church service than you are all the time because the Spirit of God dwells within you if you are born again.  We do not come to church to meet with God.

We come to church to meet with EACH OTHER so that we can encourage one another to stay AWARE of GOD’S PRESENCE in our lives 24/7.

For many people, the confusion over entering the presence of God, His throne room, leaves them feeling betrayed.

If you believe that coming to a church service is the way to enter the throne room of God so that you can be close to the King, you will be disappointed every time the worship team hits a sour chord, every time an elder prays with you and you are not instantly, miraculously healed, every time the pastor’s preaching doesn’t quite touch your heart.

So, what IS the throne room of God?

The throne room of God is YOUR HOME.

It is where you were designed to live.  When you begin to spend more and more time there, breathing as He created you to breathe, you will find power to live like you have never before experienced.

The church will no longer be the place you come to meet with God.  It will become the place you come to encourage your brothers and sisters by sharing all that God has been doing with you all week.

What does Colossians 3 say about this throne-room-home of ours?

(Thanks again, Biblegateway.com.) (NIV)

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is yourlife, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

If we do not have to come to a church service to FIND the throne room of God, if we actually LIVE THERE, let’s explore it.

The door is open (v.1).  We ask, seek, knock, and the door is opened to us.  There’s a voice like a trumpet – it extends an invitation, a plan.

Immediately we are equipped to obey (v.2).  “At once I was in the Spirit…”

(v3) The Person on the throne is even more riveting than the incredible throne itself.  (Quite the opposite of the humbug of Oz, hmm?)

Who else is here?  If this is my home, I want to be familiar with everyone who lives here.

Twenty-four Elders (v4) who may represent the Sanhedrin…the 12 tribes of Israel….the 12 apostles….WHO CARES?  Regardless of what they represent, they are clearly named “ELDERS.”  They are respected, worthy of my attention, forefathers equipped to direct other younger followers of Christ.  I should learn from them.  I should imitate them as they live in obedience to Christ.

(v5) The throne itself is crazy – lightning and thunder – and there are blazing torches that are the 7 Spirits of God.  Again, there’s hours worth of study we could explore about these spirits, but suffice it to say for now that there is power and life abounding, the presence of God in fullness.

(v6) A glassy sea in front.  That means the floor is a glassy sea.  That means when I stand at the foot of the throne of God I am walking on water.  Too cool for words!

There are the four living creatures.  Again, without digging too deeply into all that they represent, let’s acknowledge the basics:  they are knowledge (eyes all around), personality (faces), power (wings) and voices (speech).  And all they do, all the time, forever and ever is say:

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty

who was and who is and who is to come.

And what do our role-models, the Elders, do?  They fall down in worship, throw down their crowns (their own awesomeness), and cry “Worthy!”

When do they do this?

Every time the four living creatures say, “Holy! Holy! Holy!”

And when do the living creatures say that?

Day and night, always; they never stop.

So when do the Elders fall in worship?

Day and night, always; they never stop.

They don’t fall down, hit the floor, get up, pick their crowns back up, sit back on their thrones, then fall again a minute later.

Somehow, unfettered by space and time, they PERPETUALLY FALL in worship.  They never hit the floor.  They never put their crowns back on their heads because they are perpetually taking them off to throw at the feet of the Lord.

And they are my role model. 

I was designed to be perpetually falling in worship.

The throne room of God is my home.

The praise of God is my native language.

There is no man behind the curtain; this throne is the real deal.

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How would your life look different if you meditated on this truth for a moment or two every day?

3 Things Everyone Should Say

(This post is running concurrently on http://www.7sistershomeschool.com)

I wrote this for a homeschooling audience at 7 Sisters, but really it’s for anyone and everyone!  Be encouraged!

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I try to write lots of value-packed posts here at 7 Sisters. I look for strategies to share with other homeschoolers. Vicki and I put our heads together regularly to come up with answers to the questions we get from homeschool moms. We want to pass along any wisdom or resources or help we can to all of you who read our blogs.

This morning I just want to take a moment to write the same way I am living right now.

It’s a little messy.

It’s early in the morning, I slept in my make-up last night so I have eyeliner down to my chin and my hair looks like a rat’s nest (without the actual rats).

I am discouraged about a number of things. Oh, don’t misunderstand: I have joy unshakable deep in the core of me. Jesus is Lord and that refrain rings in my heart no matter what else is going on. But that doesn’t mean discouragement isn’t there sometimes, too. It just means I have a way to survive the discouragement instead of being overwhelmed by it.

So here’s the first thing that I’ve decided (from my own experiences at the moment) that every homeschool mom should say:



Homeschool Mom, if you are discouraged, it’s okay. You are not a bad person when you admit that life is hard even though God is good. God is truth; I’m pretty sure He can handle us being honest. When I am discouraged, I try to say 5 positive, encouraging things about my situation for every 1 negative statement I make, but there’s no point in lying to myself or refusing to admit that I am struggling. It’s okay to struggle. The victory is assured, but fighting the battle is also necessary.

Here’s the next thing I think every homeschool mom should say:


I have dealt with several home-owner issues recently that have been stress-producing. Our well-pump tank sprang a mighty leak last week. That was my second friendly visit with our local plumber, because just a week before a pipe to the blue bathroom created rain in the laundry room downstairs. And…..oh dear, this one is REALLY hard to type….and, if I’m going to be brutally, horrifically honest, I just fought Round 4 with bedbugs.

(There. I said it out loud. Well, sort of…I typed it in a blog. Same thing kinda-sorta.)

Last spring we were given a couch and did not know it was a bad idea to take it. Since then I have been part of what Yahoo News calls a growing U.S. epidemic of clean, middle-class homes fighting a battle against bedbugs. I think Round 4 was the final Round — it was the follow-up after there have been no signs anywhere for weeks, the last vicious fogging of every space I can possibly fog, the last obsessive-compulsive ripping apart of all mattresses and box-springs, baseboards and carpets, dresser drawers and their contents.

Can I tell you what that particular fight has done to my confidence as a wife/mom/homemaker?

I have been beaten black-and-blue inside my heart with feelings of failure because my home — never a showplace, but always livable and open to all who would like to visit — wasn’t really clean in spite of my best efforts. I have been so ashamed. So afraid of people knowing.

So I’m putting it on the internet. I guess I’ve decided that it’s time to stop hiding and hating myself; now it’s out there. I have fogged, I have scrubbed, I have laundered, I have followed-up, and now I have COME CLEAN with the world. Maybe this won’t have a hold on me any more now.

Sometimes you are blind-sided, Homeschool Mom, and something beyond your control just HAPPENS.

Stop.

Breathe.

Nope, that was too shallow. Try again. Nice and slow. Breathe down to your kneecaps.

Release the breath slowly.

Stress wrecks the brain and the body. Start protecting both with a good deep breath.

And finally, there’s one more thing I wish every Homeschool Mom reading this post would say:



The Free Dictionary defines it this way:

work in progress. n. pl. works in progress. A yet incomplete artistic, theatrical, or musical work, often made available for public viewing or listening.

If you don’t have it all figured out yet, share your life with others anyway. It’s okay.

If you get blindsided and don’t respond with perfect grace and calm and wisdom, breathe deeply and muddle through anyway. Never underestimate the power of a good, deep breath.

When you are tempted to judge yourself, remind yourself instead: We are all works in progress.

When you are tempted to judge your husband….or your kids, remind yourself instead: We are all works in progress.

Dear Homeschool Mom, if you are having a WONDERFUL day today, I am happy for you! Practice saying these 3 things now while the sun is shining, your house is spotless and uninfested, and your children arise and call you blessed. The practice will serve you well when a rockier path appears beneath your feet.

It’s okay.

Never underestimate the power of a good, deep breath.

We are all works in progress.

Thanks for visiting with me in my messiness today. I’m now going to publish this post — one hour late according to the deadline I set for myself yesterday.

But it’s okay.

Lessons I Learned at Drama Camp 2012 – Part 3 Get the Message?!?

The message is always the core of Drama Camp.  The script starts with whatever God has been hammering into my stubborn head and heart over the last year, and it ends up leaving me feeling pretty vulnerable once I see it brought to life in front of an audience.

It’s kind of like reading passages from your journal to a room full of strangers while you are wearing a bathing suit that keeps riding up.

This year’s message was “God’s way or not at all.”

Here’s a link to a YouTube video of the cast singing and signing the worship song I wrote for camp this year, “It Has To Be Your Way.” (Thanks to Rhonda for filming and posting!)

LYRICS:

It has to be Your way or not at all; what You say or I am bound to fall
Your will, O God, is the safest place to be; I want to trust and live within Your plan for me
However You direct that’s my priority; it has to be Your way…
I know that my life is not my own; I need Your hand, Lord, to guide me on
My plans will fail me and my strength is not enough; it has to be Your way…
If I knew the perfect road to choose I’d travel it with nothing to lose
But my vision’s small & I can only see a part, so it has to be Your way…
(c) Sabrina Justison 2012

I struggle for balance among the many, many things God seems to have gifted me to do.  I have a lot of diverse interests, opportunities, and abilities, and my biggest problem seems to be the lack of hours in each day.  However, since God designed the whole 24-hour system, I have to assume that He knew what He was doing and there actually ARE enough hours in the day….I need to learn to use them according to His direction.

And I need to rest in between adventures.

Or sometimes even in the middle of adventures.

Getting away with Fred for breaks from busyness is so important for us. We don’t rest well at home, so we’ve learned to hit the road for rest on a shoestring budget. I think I need to schedule one more of those before school starts!

And I need to listen to His plans for my life rather than being swept along into the plans He has for people around me, even if those are people I love to play with.  If He doesn’t have it on the agenda for me, I need to resist the urge to pencil it in.

Cameron and Nate learn that God’s call is unique to each of them. One was called to minister on the mission field for the summer, and one in his own back yard.

Family and organized ministry have to be in balance and the only way to do that is to be on my face in humility before Dad saying, “I have no clue how to do this!! Help!”  followed immediately by, “Thank You.  You are so good at this stuff.  I’m really glad You are God and I am not.”

Perpetually falling before Him in worship…without hitting bottom…ever.  Cool.

Lessons I Learned At Drama Camp 2012 – Part 2 Help!

Used to be, I didn’t think I played well with others.  I tried to do everything that was required for Drama Camp by myself.

Gradually the last five years of Drama Camp have taught me to ask for help.  To accept it.  To rejoice in it!

Drama Camp was amazing 10 years ago.  But Drama Camp is so much MORE amazing now that it is not limited by MY limitations.

The choreography needed a choreographer.  The production needed an assistant, and the choreographer needed an assistant.  Enter Rebekah Groop, stage left, and Hannah Joy Thorp, stage right:

Bekah and Hannah proclaimed themselves The Dancing Gnomes for this production.

A Stage Manager and Assistant Director was critical as the production grew in size.  Enter Kym Smythe, stage left:

She prays with all that she is….love this woman!

Photographs and video were needed.  This year’s production called for a video montage of tributes to a “dead” character, and a photo slide show chronicling her “life.”  Enter Samuel White, stage right (and stage left, and up center, and ….):

Sam created this self-portrait based on some of the many varied artistic influences he has appreciated as a filmmaker, singer, and writer.

Photos of the production process were needed.  I couldn’t be behind the camera while I was directing the actors, and I have a dummy-camera and only a dummy-brain to operate it.  Enter Rhonda Wampler, stage left:

Rhonda’s photos are in most of the blog posts here about Drama Camp 2012. She took oodles of great shots for me!

(BTW, check out the ministry organization Rhonda runs, Shoes to Share.  http://www.shoes2share.com/)

God created us to be connected to one another, to be the body of Christ.  This year I learned more powerfully than ever before how important it is to ask for help, accept it, and rejoice in it!

 

Lessons I Learned at Drama Camp 2012 – Part 1 New This Year

This year’s cast….21 fantastic young people, ages 12 – 18.

Every year I direct a Drama Camp. Here’s a quick overview of what that means:

* Some time after Christmas I seek the Lord about the theme for the script. I begin taking notes and outlining over the next few months.
* Some time around March I have a serious outline pulled together. I begin collaborating with my alumni team and my choreographer to choose the songs that will serve as “bookends” to each Act.
* Some time during the spring I write the first draft of the script. I run things through my alumni team for feedback on what’s working and what isn’t. I also publicize the camp via social media and take sign-ups for the 20-25 students who participate each year.

Marked-up scripts after script workshop this year.

* Some time early summer I hold a script workshop night where the staff for this year’s camp and a few alumni gather for a meal at my house, and we read aloud the script while sitting around the table, making notes about dialogue sections that don’t work, holes in the plot, areas of dead wood that need to be cut and the like.
* I finalize participant information packets and try to get the other areas of my life under control so I can give Drama Camp my full attention when it begins.
* Once Drama Camp begins on Monday morning, I live, eat and breathe it until it ends two weeks later with clean-up after the Sat. closing performance.

Curtain call at preview this year…Jesus gets all the glory!

This schedule was new this year.  That’s the first important thing I learned at Drama Camp 2012.

We simply must allow God to change the way we’ve done things in the past, even if those changes make us uncomfortable.

Drama Camp had never been 2 weeks before this year. 

–  I was afraid to carve out that big a slice of my summer calendar. God showed me how much lower my stress level was by holding a two-week camp instead of a one-week.

–  I was afraid the kids would lose the intensive experience that makes Drama Camp so spiritually significant.  God showed me that they had MORE ability to focus on the work He was doing in their hearts when they weren’t so worried about memorizing their lines.

Drama Camp had never had a script completed this far in advance before.

–  I was afraid to start too far ahead for fear that I wouldn’t be fully in the “Drama Camp groove” until closer to camp.  God showed me how much more I was able to joyfully anticipate the camp this way.

–  I was afraid to work with others on the script before the camp, fearing that my writing wasn’t strong enough on its own for evaluation, that it needed to be brought to life under my direction to show the depth of the message.  God showed me that He had given me every word on the page, and the message rang loud and clear as soon as we held our script workshop.  The comments and feedback from the team helped my edits immeasurably.

Next post…Lessons I learned beyond the change in scheduling.

Why A Pound Of Ground Beef On My Washing Machine Means I Should Memorize Scripture

It was a typical afternoon activity for me.  I was walking in circles in my house trying to remember something. 

I needed to remember where I had put the pound of ground beef I’d taken out to make stuffed peppers for dinner.  Since we were in the middle of a heat wave, it was REALLY important to remember before the stench of rotting meat jogged my memory.

There it was!  On top of the washing machine.

Yeah, that makes sense.

I’m sure it all had something to do with having the meat package in my hand when I heard the dryer buzz, but the truth is I do stuff like this all the time because I am so easily distracted.  I often tell people that I used to have a brain; now I have children instead.

Which is why I memorize scripture.

Did I lose you along the way?  (Maybe you are on top of the washing machine; did you check there?)  Let me explain the connection:

I need to memorize scripture because my brain cannot be trusted to hold onto things very well.  I may know on some level that everything else I’m doing should be done with love because love will hold the rest of my efforts together, but I am going to lose that knowledge in the mad shuffle of life if I don’t work hard to keep it front and center in my thinking.  If I have chosen to focus my mind on memorizing Col. 3:14, gone over those word of truth again and again and again and again, then I am much more likely to remember to carry the love I need with me into my other activities.

I don’t want to accidentally leave LOVE on top of the washing machine.

 

Applying What I’m Learning Over an Omelette

I wrote that last post, “What Not To Wear” and was feeling pretty good about the lessons God’s been teaching me.  Then God decided to show me how nervous I get when I really have to apply something, and do it in a different way than I anticipated.

Sunday morning is always action-packed at our house.  (You, too?  Huh….you must be involved in church leadership of some sort.)  I woke up with Day 3 of a migraine, and the headache had majorly spiked instead of waning as I’d hoped it would.  I managed to get the edge off with some medicine and coffee and yogurt, so I got clean and dressed and was about to leave for Worship Team practice when I realized the just-turned-eighteen-and-working-two-jobs-and-rarely-home son was still asleep.  Since he plays lead guitar on our worship team, I thought this was a problem.

I tried to wake him; he tried to wake up.  He was FRIED, with all capital letters; the dude was just wiped out.  I pointed out (like a good, loving, Jesus-following mother) that he has a commitment to fulfill, people were depending on him, blah-blah-blah.  All true, but a bit…shall we say “lacking in compassion”?

I headed out to church, encountered the newest in a long, ongoing series of sound-system problems, and spent the next hour fighting a losing battle with the sound board in the back of the sanctuary.  FRIED son never arrived.  The service was about to begin and I got a text from him.  “I’m so sorry.  I really, really, really tried.  I just couldn’t get it together to be there in time.  I know I disappointed you; I’m so sorry.  I just don’t know what to do.”

Woof.  Suddenly in my mind’s eye I saw my bright pink stilettos from the last post, fabulous, but not always appropriate.

I am a BIG believer in church attendance, y’all.

I don’t like to miss church.  I don’t even miss it when I have a migraine (well, not usually, anyway).  I love to be in church.  I love to lead worship.  I love to get up on Sunday mornings and head out the door to our worship service.  I’ve had my kids in church every Sunday for their whole lives.

But there I stood in the church’s sound booth, hearing the pain in my son’s text, replaying the pale exhaustion I saw on his face when I woke him up, and imagining me in my pretty pink stilettos stomping all over his weary heart in the in the name of worshiping Jesus.

I prayed.  It was super articulate and stuff.  I think I said, “Okay, God, don’t let me screw this up.”

I checked in with my husband.  He said, “Do what you gotta do.  I’ll be praying for you guys.”

And I left church, met my son in the parking lot as he arrived (too late to practice with the band, but he was still there before the service began) and told him we were going to breakfast.

Yes, I confess.  I ditched church.

Or did I?

We went to a local diner.  We ordered omelettes.  We prayed together while we were waiting for our food.  We thanked God for all the gifts he’d put in my son’s life, for the diverse talents He’d given him, and for the strong work ethic He had built into his character.  Then we humbly asked Him for wisdom to know how to number our days aright (Ps. 90:12).  We asked Him to show us how to live life in His fullness rather than being chewed up and spit out by a to-do list that is never completed.  And we thanked Him for the food, because no one wants to eat an un-blessed omelette.

The next hour was spent carefully examining what’s in balance and what’s out of balance in my son’s schedule.  We prayerfully prioritized his activities.  We discovered (well, I think he already knew it, but his mom has been blind to it until now) that he has close to 75 hours of work scheduled into every week, and that is crazy and unhealthy no matter how much you want to quickly make money to apply to your life goals.

We reconciled our own relationship; I asked him to forgive me for my lack-of-love in my attitude toward him earlier that morning.  He admitted his feeling of helplessness in trying to make everything fit; he wants to honor his commitment to worship team and he wants to be in weekly fellowship at church, but he is also overwhelmed and sleep-deprived after two months of this pace of life.

I laid aside my Sunday-best high-heels, put on fuzzy slippers, and ate omelettes with my son.

And I think Jesus was wearing His fuzzy slippers right there alongside us.  I think we had church in the diner.  Would I do it every week?  Nope, but yesterday I was called to minister to one person with a crushing burden, and I obeyed that call, even though it involved a diner booth instead of pews.

So why did I feel guilty? 

Apparently I have more to learn about what to wear, what not to wear, and how to trust God to select my wardrobe pieces for me.

 

What Not to Wear

So I’m plugging along on my memorization of Colossians 3:1-17.  I haven’t actually gotten to the “clothe yourselves” part of this passage yet, but I’m pretty solidly memorized through the “What Not To Wear” section (sexual immorality, imupurity, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, lying).

But I’m thinking about clothes (and shoes, of course).

They’re fabulous, of course…but always practical?

My clothes say a lot about me, but they are NOT me.  They don’t walk around without me in them (at least I don’t think they do.)  (Of course now I’m thinking of Dr. Seuss’ “What Was I Scared Of?” a.k.a. The Pale Green Pants with Nobody Inside Them.).

I wear what I wear because of choices I’ve made.

Some outfits look really good on me; some look atrocious; lots of my outfits are okay, but nothing to get excited about.  In the same way, my actions are not me, but they are the result of choices I make and they give a peek into the motivation that brought them about.

The “What Not To Wear” section of Colossians 3 has lots of things listed that look ugly, and they don’t happen by accident They are the result of choices I make.  Just as I don’t look down surprised to find that I’m wearing a sequined tube top and Daisy Dukes, I don’t accidentally slander people and gossip about them.  Those things are ugly, and I choose to do them.

Not only that, but what’s appropriate to wear changes over time and circumstance, doesn’t it?

Hardly attractive, but sometimes they fit the bill perfectly.

Little children wear bibs because they are awfully messy when they eat.  The motor skills just aren’t there yet for neat dinner times.  They don’t even really notice that they’re wearing bibs; it’s just normal attire for them because of their immaturity.

In the same way, immature followers of Christ can be expected to be a little messy.  Maybe the way they speak about others isn’t very careful; they don’t even really understand that they are tearing someone down with their words, or gossiping, because they are still kind of oblivious to how messy that is, and how it looks on them.

But if I still have a bib on at 40-something, you’d scratch your head and wonder what was wrong with me.  Lots of behaviors that bother me in other people are more an evidence of their youth and immaturity than they are anything else.

Why do believers who have been with Jesus a long time still find it easiest to focus on those things, even if we know the root cause will be worked out over time?

Am I willing to look carefully at the other end of the spectrum, the place where I am most tempted to mess up after lots of years with Jesus?  How about us mature believers, the super-polished, wouldn’t-be-caught-dead-dribbling-when-I-eat types?

Do I sometimes have on a perfectly coordinated ensemble, matched accessories, and incredible stilettos……when I show up at the park…only to find that I can’t play nicely with others because I didn’t dress appropriately for it?

Do I sometimes talk church-ese to someone who can’t understand that what I want to be saying is this: “Wow, you must be in so much pain right now!  I care, but even more important, can I share with you how well God takes care of me when I’m hurting?

Do I invite someone to a special service at church when what they need is someone to listen to their story and buy them a cup of coffee and a donut?

The clothes don’t make the woman, but they are evidence of the woman’s choices.  My actions aren’t a full definition of me (sometimes I meant well and something got scrozzled in the execution, or in the perception of my actions….and sometimes I’m still just too young to realize that I’m choosing poorly), but they are a very telling indicator of what I’m focused on.

Can I find the right fit for the need in front of me? ‘Cause that’s what it is to dress for success.

If I wear a fitted linen dress (’cause that way I know I look GOOD!) no matter where I’m going, how will I ever sit down in the sandbox at the park with someone who’s broken-hearted?   How will I be able to stand the thought of all those wrinkles?

Am I willing to clothe myself with LOVE over all else?  If I love others, I won’t be bothered by the spaghetti sauce on their bibs.  And I won’t be afraid of getting something messy on my outfit, either.

And I’m pretty sure I’ll look better myself, too.