Saturday, August 1, 2015

Pitching my Tent

If you're like me, there are one or two long distance friends that you still---even decades later---still connect with but rarely are able to see face to face.  Although we don't talk on a daily basis, we can pick up the conversation like it was moments instead of months or even years later.  How I hope and pray you have at least one of those friends.  This, and subsequent posts, are spurred by a couple of these recent conversations.

One thing I've noticed as I've grown up and grown older, I fought with my parents and worked hard not to be like them as a teenager and young adult.  As a new mother who had birthed an unbelievably strong willed child and left the hospital with no instruction book, my parents suddenly transformed into a combination of rock-star and brain surgeon wrapped into one. More than 20 years later, now that my Mom has passed and Dad nears 90, I realize how I wasted decades trying to avoid being around them and even trying not to be like them.  As their child, I am not only like my parents ..... I am my parents.  I love chocolate and desserts, seeing where history was made and meeting new people who expand my horizons.  A library is an attractive place where you can see pretty much the world from your own corner without spending a nickle.  I love to laugh and to share that laughter with those I love  as
well as complete strangers.  Some of this I learned; most of it came from simply being their child and being immersed in their particular school of persuasion.  
A large course of study in that persuasive school was church.  We attended Sunday morning for Sunday School and worship.  Vacation Bible School.  Youth Group. If the doors of the church were open, generally, we were there whether we wanted to be or not.  Call me odd, but I liked it.  I still like it.  One of the things I picked up along the way was the idea of growing in grace.  I don't recall that it was particularly taught but something I observed.  People are drawn to Christ and some even pinpoint that along the way there was a redemption moment (some might say a process, because they know they gave their life to Christ but cannot give you a specific date in time).  This redemption includes confessing that I am a sinner and that I need the forgiveness of Jesus to raise me out of and cleanse me from the things I've done wrong.  

For some people that's the essence of their relationship with God.  John Wesley believed that God calls us deeper, very much similar to the Disciples experience at Pentecost.  If you are familiar with this as described in the book of Acts, yes, it was marked by tongues of fire and men speaking in languages they had never spoken before.  Wesley believed---if you'll stay with me---that it wasn't so much about the speaking in tongues as it was the waiting on the arrival of the Holy Spirit.  The disciples were instructed, upon Jesus' departure, to wait.  As they waited together, they prayed.  Was the Holy Spirit present in this process? By all means, YES!  Did they feel the presence? Not necessarily.
For those of us who claim the name of Jesus and call God Father, we believe in God even when we cannot see or touch the One in whom we believe.  Many times we cannot see His presence in our circumstances until we look back.  As the Hebrew children finally left Egypt after the plagues of Pharoah, did they feel God's presence when they approached the Red Sea? Had I been in their shoes, I would have been chewing on my heart that was jumping out of my throat and into my mouth.  Even as they walked across and turned around to see Pharoah's army dashing into the path they had just left, it would be hard to see God at work!  Then the water came crashing down and drowned the army that had chased them from Egypt......THAT would be a moment of transformation.  
Like the Hebrew children, the choice is ours whether we cross the Red Sea and pitch our spiritual tents on the shore to settle there OR we continue forward, following God for the journey.  John Wesley followed deeply into the Promised Land, just as Caleb and Joshua encouraged. Will you go as well?

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