Friday, July 27, 2007

Sing with Me - How Great is Our God

The other day I wrote about my daughter's wedding and watching my new son-in-law as he awaited his bride. I likened it to the way Jesus waits for us and how joyful we will be when we are joined to Him.

This morning I read the first devotional in a book I just picked up by John Piper - Taste and See. The devotional talks about how we would be transformed when we realize how much God delights in us. At the end of the piece he quotes Isaiah 62:4-5 - I was struck by the words - "You shall no more be termed Forsaken and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My delight is In Her and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you ... As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you."
The words reminded me of when I first became a Christian. That's exactly how I felt -as though I had been a barren dessolate land and now had been claimed, made fruitful and as joyful as a new bride. My story is here, if you'd like to read more about that.

I also take great comfort in the fact that this is present tense. God is doing all of that now - delighting over us each moment, loving us as only He can. Another verse Piper quoted - Jeremiah 32:40-41 - "I will make with them an everlasting covenanat that I will not turn away from doing good to them; and I will put the fear of me in their hearts that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good ... with all my heart and all my soul."

That last sentence astounds me - that God would pour all of his heart and soul into doing something for me, into rejoicing over me! It's hard to wrap my mind around that.

It makes me want to sing that song - How great is our God, How great is our God - oh sing with me, How great, how great is our God!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Don't Spurn the Small Stuff

The auditorium was jammed with thousands of eager listeners. The woman on the platform was a high-profile speaker. Her books and other resources filled three tables in the foyer and much of it had already been snapped up by her fans.

I too was eager to listen. I wanted to hear about Jesus. But it did not appear that I was going to get what I wanted that night. I confess I had a skeptical attitude as I watched her begin her presentation. So when she started to rant about how the men of her church had tried to hold her back, I got more than a little irritated. But it was when she made a statement about her previous ministry that I got angry. She said, “If I had listened to them I’d still be back there teaching six people in a tiny living room instead of up here on this stage teaching thousands.”

I felt like screaming. I was one of the many – probably a large percent of that audience – who were teaching six people, sometimes four or even two, in a tiny living room. Did that not count? Was my ministry a waste of time because it wasn’t broadcast on cable T.V.? Was this high-profile woman more valuable as a teacher of the gospel than I was because she was reaching thousands?

It seems our culture would answer yes, but I don’t believe Jesus would. He chose a small isolated country in which to make his first appearance. The synagogues in which he spoke were usually small. His close group of disciples numbered only twelve. He never once appeared on T.V.

I confess there have been times when I’ve wished for more of an audience. When I received an e-mail from a friend on the mission field telling me she had fifty women turn out for her Bible Study, I was jealous and even thought, “Lord, what am I doing here?”

But then I went to my Bible Study. The hostess was a recent widow and often expressed her gratitude that we always met in her home so she didn’t have to drive at night. Another woman was having serious struggles in her marriage and said it was that tiny group that kept her from walking away from the church and from God. Another was a brand new Christian, still in awe of what the Bible said and of this amazing God named Jesus Christ.

I came home that night and thanked Him for the privilege of meeting with those women each week, to learn about the scriptures with them and from them, to share what God was saying to me and what He was doing in my life, to listen to what He was saying to them and doing in their lives.

I’ve repented of my anger at that high-profile speaker. God is undoubtedly working His will in and through her. Perhaps she is where God has put her. And I am content in knowing that I am where God has put me – in a small town, a small church, a small Bible Study group. I pray that I will never ever spurn the small stuff.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wedding Day

It all began with green balloons. My middle daughter had ordered them as a surprise for her older sister who was to be married that day. But there was a problem. Someone had to be at the park to meet the balloon lady. My husband and I volunteered.

Three thirty on the afternoon of the wedding found us circling the park to keep the air- conditioning going in our car. Finally a van showed up, filled with six dozen large lime green helium filled balloons. That’s when we discovered how fragile helium balloons are. If they touched the trees they’d pop. If they touched the grass they’d pop. So okay, we’ll just hold onto them. Well, no, if they expand in the heat they’ll pop! We could not fit 72 balloons in our car, so we convinced the balloon lady to wait.

As often happens at weddings, however, things had gotten behind schedule and she finally said she had to leave. So we carefully deposited the balloons on the grass behind a large bush, to keep the wind from blowing them away. Then we sat in our air-conditioned car and guarded them, praying none would pop.

In a little while I saw a young mom with three small children and two dogs heading in our direction. You could tell the moment those kids saw the balloons. They started running. So did their dogs. So did I. They stopped dead when they saw me, giving their mom time to catch up and when I explained we were waiting for the bride and groom, the mom led her brood away. I was thankful both her children and dogs were obedient.

The look on the bride’s face made the wait and the inconvenience all worthwhile. She was totally surprised and delighted and it made their photo shoot a lot of fun. As we drove away I thought, well, that’s what the parents of the bride are for, right? And we were delighted to delight her.

Then I thought about the Lord, when it’s time for Him to come for His bride. I thought about how much he wants to delight us, to take us to His home and love us as only He can. Later that evening, as I watched my new son-in-law wait with great anticipation for the moment when his bride would walk toward him, I thought of how good our God is, to wait so patiently for us, to love us that much. And as joyful as the day was for all of us, I knew it was nothing compared to the joy we will all know on that day when Jesus comes for us.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men and he will live with them. They will be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3).

Come, Lord Jesus, come!