It Has Always Been Him Calling to Me

I asked God to give me something to share with a beautiful, familiar group of women. I would soon have the opportunity to speak to them and I wanted to leave something inspirational, something worthy of remembering, in their hearts. I’m not a speaker. My mind seems to forget everything I want to say when I want to say it. So, every time this type of thing comes along, I plead with God. Less of me, more of You.

He quickly dropped “I Will Enter His Gates” in my heart.  I sang it for a week and nothing I conjured up came together in the beautiful way I had imagined. Maybe he wants me to talk about this or that…. No, that’s not it, again and again. I crumbled up papers and deleted notes on my phone. 

I woke up at 5am Sunday morning, the day of the event, with a reason. The song I had been singing was a song I loved when I was a child, a song from our hymn book. It was a memory I needed to unwrap.

This is a small part of my story. But, you all have a story like this, a story of how god has always been calling out to you.

When I was born, my parents weren’t christians. We were lost. What was it that brought us to him? I was five and I remember. I remember the tiny churches in the country. I remember the open arms and the looks on their faces. They knew my mom was coming home. But, my father, they were working so hard. They visited him in the hospital when he almost died. They spent hours and hours there. The preacher prayed over him when he was asleep for a month. He prayed when my dad didn’t know us. He even stayed when he woke up and lead him to Jesus. I was five and I knew my dad had died but God woke him up because he was so close. He was close to finally winning his soul. Maybe the accident would show him how far God had gone to save him?

fullsizerender-11

(Picture of dad and the preacher about 1.5 years after his accident when he was walking again)

Dad recovered at home and we went to church. They sang “At the Cross”and “Victory in Jesus.” They worked tirelessly.  They cried when my momma cried. They threw baby showers when my sister was born. There were so many embraces. They sang “Jesus Loves Me” and lead the crafts in Sunday school. They cared when we didn’t come. 

fullsizerender-12 fullsizerender-8

(My mom at my sister’s baby shower at the small church in the country)

Family reunions when I was 8 and 10 and 12, my uncle sang “Amazing Grace” with a guitar under the trees. They all stopped. All those people, 100 of them, stopped and felt him. The music, the prayer, it begged us to notice.  He was there, calling to them too. I remember looking around and seeing that they all noticed Jesus was there too.

Then, when I was 15, I gave my heart to Jesus. Those people actually had the guts to come and get me from my seat. They knew so much about me. More than I had told them. Their eyes said it all. But, I had been hiding. Hang out with us. We’ve got this thing called The Holy Spirit and you need it too. That’s when I decided. All those years, all that work and I finally said it out loud. Although, I had known long, long before that I could never live without Jesus. He would always be home, my resting place.

When my mom  almost gave up on people and stopped going to church, it was me that begged. If we don’t have them, what hope do we have? Those people, the church, they are Jesus. We can’t hold on to him alone. She listened.

It was always him calling me, following me, loving me.  He worked hard to keep my attention. From my earliest memory until right now, it has always been him.

We are the church. We are those baby showers, the embraces, the workers. We are the ones that sing songs and cut and glue in the classrooms. We are Jesus in the flesh.

fullsizerender-10

(Me around 1988 singing songs about Jesus)

When I asked God for something this week, he took his time and showed me something profound. The pulling, the tugging, the noticing, the calling, it was always him. From my earliest memory until this very moment. The entire thing, its been a journey towards him.  Just like it has been for you.

As we enter into the holidays thankful hearts, may it be full of those moments in time that cause you to notice. He’s been calling to all of us since the very beginning. Through music, prayer, love, embraces, pain and everything in between, it’s been him all along. He is the hope that shines in dark places. He is the joy that comes in the morning. He is everywhere, in everything. He has always been, and he will always be. 

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

 

Advertisements

americanism.

92802-004-860DE3FD

Beginning with the nomads, my son and I have studied history through the middle ages. We have examined Islam, Buddhism, Greek gods and goddesses, and Christianity. It has been intriguing to learn how various religions began and where their stories originated. This investigation has given us a much better understanding of the core of each religion. There are so many that ask, “How do we know our God is the real one? How do we know we are right?”

Others are often more devoted and even more passionate than we are as Christians. They follow outward rules and rituals without hesitancy. We’ve seen the daily devotion from those like Muslims who bow towards Mecca to pray five times a day. Some are peaceful with beautiful beliefs and traditions like Buddhist who believe in being truthful, non-harmful and wise. Following a path to an “awakening” seems dreamy and romantic.

Their thoughts are noble, to remain completely devoted to their god or goddesses, or the teachings of their leaders. On the other hand, when you dig deep, you realize that Buddha never intended himself to be worshiped. He wanted to help people live fair and honest lives and to be awakened to a sense of self. His ideas of the afterlife were his own. Good intentions they were, but not actions of a God. He was a man. There was no pre-curser, no follow-up, only him and his ideas. Then, when you look at the life of Mohammed, you ask yourself how one could trust a man who stole and murdered as “the only prophet of Allah.” ¬†It is an entire faith based upon the stories told by one man, one who prospered much by the lands he conquered and controlled, then died a sudden unexplained death and left his followers with no guidance.

Christianity is a faith in existence from the beginning of time. The birth and death of Jesus Christ was prophesied by many before His coming. History documents Biblical truths repeatedly. His story is one of love and forgiveness. He is one man that lived a sinless life, leaving us with the Holy Spirit,  guidance, testimonies, power, and promises.

I’m tired of weak-mindedness. I’m tired of the lack of commitment and how easily we question our core beliefs. We have all greatly taken for granted our fruitfulness. We, as a nation under God, are broken. “How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.” Psalm 31:19 God has, no doubt, stored up and released many great things for us as a nation. However, I worry that we have grown lazy and undecided. We expect everything for nothing and how long will this last? Muslims stop and pray five times a day. How many times a day to do we stop and pray to our God? We are idealistic, believing we should accept all religions. How many times have we closed our mouths and hidden our hearts in fear of offending. We want to take the best from each religion, believing that whoever is “up there” will have mercy on us if we are good. Where are our rituals? Where are the things that hold us down and keep us centered: church on Sunday, our spiritualism, our goodness? Are those enough? Is expecting God’s grace and love with no commitment on our parts enough? Where is His power? Jesus walked on the Earth, performed miracles, then left us with the Holy Spirit. We have power in Jesus Christ. There is power to heal and to restore. There is love and wisdom to stand firm and love everyone, regardless of religion, without being persuaded to change our minds.

I say all this because I’m tired of these things in my own life. I’m tired of not being prepared to defend my beliefs. I’m tired of days passing and “forgetting” about God. I’m looking for ways in my daily life to make Jesus Christ my center and my family’s center. I’m tired of being distracted and caught off guard. I would like to have meaningful rituals that remind me why we exist, our purpose, and our future. What can we do daily to help us remember that God is truth and He is all that matters? What Christian rituals does your family practice?