At the church I go to, we have three meetings on Sunday morning: remembrance meeting, Sunday school, and the main meeting. Sunday school and the main meeting work like most churches, I suppose. The Sunday school is split up into age groups and each study focuses on either a book (or books) of the Bible or on a certain theme that is centered on the Bible (i.e. The Greatest Commandment). The main meeting starts with singing, then it goes to announcements, a scripture reading, and then more singing. Finally, the speaker steps forward, but the speaker is not a pastor, he is a man in well-standing within the church or another fellowship… So, I suppose that part is a little different than what most people are used to. But the very first meeting of the morning is the remembrance meeting.
During the remembrance meeting, various men in the fellowship may stand and request a song to sing and/or share on some scripture that brings Christ to the remembrance of all present. That is the purpose of the meeting: to remember Christ and what He has done for His children. In my specific fellowship, women are not allowed to share during the remembrance meeting, so it is during that time that I meditate upon God’s Word and what He taught me throughout the previous week. And this particular Sunday morning’s remembrance meeting was preceded by a pretty rough Saturday night, so that was the focus of my meditation.
In total, last Saturday was pretty great. After a full day consisting of a church sale, a carnival, a bridal shower, shopping, IHOP, and Nertz, I was pretty tired. But, for some reason, I really didn’t want Sunday to come, so I fought the pull of my pillow. The thing is, though, I love Sunday. It is a day when I get to see my church family and I even have time in the day to rest (usually). I cannot explain my dread, but it kept me from my bed until 1:30 in the morning. Honestly, I have no reason to complain or fight, nor do I have a right to, but the heart and mind are funny things; sometimes, they overrule common sense. When my pillow finally won the victory, I lay in bed and praised God for all He had given me, repenting of my dread and committing the day to Him.
As it often does, 7:30am came early, but I got up and started getting ready for church as I usually do. I ate a little breakfast and tried my best to look presentable, all the while thinking of how it is more important to be prepared in spirit than in body. Finally, I was completely done with my outward preparation and found that I had extra time before I had to leave for church, so I sat on the top step of my back porch. As I sat there, I could see the cement was still dark from rain that had most likely stopped falling not long before I stepped outside. What little grass there was pushing through the dirt was a bright green. Everything glistened and even the songs the birds were singing matched the new tune of my heart. The world around me was so free and beautiful. Though it cannot compare to the country life of my childhood, it was a blessing to see how God was renewing the world around me.
Thinking upon it now, I see how Christ had been renewing my heart over that Sunday morning. When I was asleep and dead to the world, God was preparing a message for me to hear and see. Outside my back door, I saw a world that was being renewed, a world that was growing. That world rejoiced in the blessings that flowed from above, and those that ate the fruit of those blessings rejoiced just as much as the ground. Through that sight and sound, I was reminded of God’s faithfulness to me.
Spring rains were renewing the world around me, and though it was only a little life that pushed through the dirt, it was beautiful. That must be how God feels about me. Yes, my efforts are small, and I am so dependent upon God to rain upon me, but when I finally grow enough for the world to see what God has made of me, my Abba rejoices. I imagine the angle voices are like the songs of birds, rejoicing when the the people of the earth find rest and renewal in their Creator.
When I was sitting in remembrance meeting that morning, I didn’t know for sure what passage from Scripture I would read, but my meditations from my back porch reminded me of a passage in Lamentation, so that is where I turned.
The book of Lamentations in its entirety is a sort of despairing book; Jeremiah was not called the weeping prophet for nothing. He wept for Jerusalem and for his people. They had been scattered, defeated, and without a leader. What was the reason for their destruction? Sin. So many times, the people of Israel disobeyed the Word of the Lord, knowingly serving and worshiping gods they knew had no power. They forsook Jehovah, the One Who had preserved their way and brought them to a good and fruitful land… I see within myself the heart of an Israelite at times. This is how I put it in my journal Sunday morning:
“I am impatient. I am forgetful. Sometimes, I grow weary in waiting… and I don’t even know what I am waiting for. What God has in store for me is a complete mystery. For all of my life, even until now, I have been floating on the robe of my Savior. Where He leads, I cannot tell, because my face is to the ground as I cling to His robe.”
When Jesus walked here on earth, there were times when He was surrounded by hundreds and thousands of people. Sometimes, the crowd would be pressing in to the point where hundreds would have touched Jesus within a short span of time. But when a woman touched Jesus’ robe at one of those times, He stopped, and asked, “Who touched me?” His disciples were a little incredulous, because so many people had touched Him; why would He respond so now? However, Jesus explained that He asked, because He felt power go out of Him. The women who touched Jesus’ robe stepped forward and told a story of how she had been afflicted for years and no physician could heal her. She was in such despair of any hope, but she thought if she could only touch the hem of Jesus’ robe, she would be healed. And when she touched His robe just then, she said she was immediately healed… (Luke 8). She did not keep hanging onto His robe. She knew she was healed, so she let go, and kept walking with the crowd that followed Jesus.
There are times to cling to Jesus’ robe, and there are times to let go. If I do not let go, then how could I possibly serve the one Who has healed me? If I do not let go, I reside in my box, in my bubble where comfort is king. And if I do not look up, then I would not see the Son… But more than comfort, I think there is a desire in me for everything to come easy. In school, I wanted to get good grades with little effort and I wanted to throw far; also, with little effort. Well, I graduated with a 4.0 and I placed at my conference track meet, but those accomplishments required so much effort that caused me to sacrifice comfort, time, and even relationships. It seems that nothing worth accomplishing or striving for comes without some sacrifice.
Since I know there will be sacrifices in my future if I am ever to grow closer to Christ, become more like Him, or accomplish great things in life, then I will need hope for now… hope for today. And that was Jeremiah’s cry in Lamentations 3. Though tears consumed his world, he paused to remember – to call to mind – the mercies of the Lord. God has been faithful before; He will be faithful again:
This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.”
The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. (21-25)
I have far less of a reason to despair than Jeremiah had. I have every reason to rejoice as I call to mind the faithfulness of God and how He has sustained me, provided for me, and faithfully held me even when I refused to see His way. Last Saturday night, I was tired, weary from who knows what, but I ran from rest. Eventually, sleep caught up with me, and when I arose, the Son rose in my heart. Jesus opened my eyes to see His glory in my own backyard. Within that little part of the world, I saw the faithfulness of God, and how His plan will bring forth fruit, though there be pain along the way. And at church, I was reminded again of God’s faithfulness to me. Though I cannot see the end of my Savior’s design, I keep hope along the way… Funny how hope is a lot like breathing; just as it is impossible to live without breathing, so too is it impossible to live without hope… Well, perhaps it is not completely impossible to live without hope, and it is possible to live with a machine’s breath, but is that living? It sustains for a time, but eternity comes swiftly, so I must breathe in and breathe out Jesus while there is still air in my lungs.
Breathe in Christ. Breathe in Life.
It is good that I should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. Amen. (Lamentations 3:26)
And Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (Luke 8:48)
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