Tuesday, August 13, 2013

After Thoughts

I walk into the sunny bedroom to find two sleeping bags neatly rolled and stacked. The bed is made; a packed dufflebag sits at the end. I breathe deeply and a sob catches in my throat. I've seen rooms being vacated before. I always get a bit choked up.

When I check the next room, the bed is stripped, the dresser tops bared. Pillows are carefully piled on the unmade bed. This room, too, is emptied of its special guests. Another emotional tide rolls in and tears overcome my resistance. Yes, I've done this before. The first time they left, the time they left my home as residents and took on visitor status - I cried those times, too. I confess that more than once I looked into the empty space and cried

Down stairs I find...
...sandy foot prints on my porch steps, plastic cups labeled "Danica" and "Louissa", piles of used bath towels - all vestiges of a home filled with people, life, and activity. 

This visit has been wonderful. The house was filled to the brim. People everywhere. Kids, parents, singles. We had no strife, no arguments. We enjoyed one another completely.

As we were sharing appreciations before the final meal, one daughter who has several children expressed gratefulness for such a child-friendly family. She noted how the single siblings had willingly set aside several of their vacation days to spend exclusively doing family outings, outings with every child in tow. They never once schemed to head out to a movie alone, never once complained that every outing had to be of interest to children. They held little hands, wiped faces, helped prepare plates. They wholeheartedly joined in the fun and we all shared every moment together. It was wonderful.

But now it is time to go back to the routines of daily normal living.

They are both gifts from Him - the special times and the routine times. One is the foundational fiber, the other the embellishment. One is neutral linen, the other threads of gold, scarlet, green, and purple.

I give credit to Jesus for teaching us to love one another, to cherish the special times, and to recognize His greatness in the routine building of foundation.

Walking with Him continues to yield great fruit, joy, and fulfillment. I stand amazed at the work of His hands.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Assaults Against the Church From Without and From Within

Jesus loves His Bride. His Bride is the Church - those who believe on His name and receive salvation from Him (as indeed it can only come from Him.)

We (believers on His name) hail from every tribe and tongue, every nation and continent, every neighborhood and background, every university and occupation. We represent various understandings of doctrine (heads covered or uncovered, music with a beat or no music at all, episcopal vs. presbyterian government, and on and on we go.) Theology has been debated, is currently debated, and will long be debated - possibly until the moment He returns to end all our debate.

Meanwhile, we (believers on His name) are called to unity.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.
Psalm 133

For centuries the church has endured persecution, reviling, torture, imprisonment, accusation, and prejudice. Jesus told us we would suffer such things. The honest and very hard truth is that the Church (believers on His name) is subjected to these things from without and from within. Persecution from without, although grievous, makes sense to us. Persecution from within is not so easily reconciled.
Sometimes the persecution from within is due to impersonators: wolves in sheep's clothing - disingenuous men and women claiming to know and love Christ. But just as often, and perhaps even more so, the reviling and persecution comes from disgruntled and hurt believers.

Meanwhile, we (believers on His name) are called to unity.
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peaceThere is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Ephesians 4.1-3
My experience is limited (as is yours, by the way.) But my limited experience, discussion, and study would lead me to this conclusion: we may not agree on everything in this lifetime, in this age, on this side (as they say), but we can live in unity and ought to do so.

We need His help to walk in unity. We need His instruction, correction, redeeming, and grace. We must walk in humility, acknowledging our frailty. As Paul noted in his letter to the Ephesians, it requires bearing with one another in our failure: I fail, he fails, she fails, and you fail.\; I say wrong things, they say wrong things, and you, dear one, say wrong things. There is bad counsel, misinterpretation, good intention gone wrong, disagreement, and outright sin - from me, from them, and from you. Hence the need for forbearance; hence the need for Christ, His grace, His Holy Spirit instruction and correction.

Meanwhile, we (believers on His name) are called to unity.

He made a way to do that very thing. It is time - it is always time - to remember this: we are called to unity.