Rapture 2011

20 05 2011

I’m not a prophet, but the end of the world is here.

Tomorrow, May 21, 2011, is the day Jesus will come back according to Harold Camping, and the world will be destroyed five months later.  Some have spent crazy amounts of money helping to spread the news so that no one gets left behind.

Most people familiar with the Bible know there is a verse in which Jesus states that no one knows the hour or day when time will end except Father God in heaven.  So it seems more than a little presumptuous that any minister of the Word of God would be bold enough to name a time.  More than a little!

However, think a little longer with me about this.

Walk down a theater ramp, suspend your disbelief, and listen to the movie theme rising as the house lights dim.  About 15 minutes into the show disaster erupts and people are dying all over the place without a hero in sight.  Tension builds as plot lines intersect until the climax, when civilization is rescued (just barely) by an average guy who cares so much about those in harm’s way, he takes on almost super-human strength and qualities.  An emotional domestic scene wraps up the loose ends as lovers, and former enemies, put pettiness behind them for what truly matters.

Now step back into reality with me, trading daylight for the imposed darkness.  A little shift has occurred in my mind and heart; I am not the same as I was before I entered the theater.  How about you?

So, what if tomorrow is our last day together?  How would that change today?  What pettiness would become unimportant, and what priorities would become clear as metaphorical dust settles in slow motion through sunrays?  Statistically, a pretty big group of people will exit life’s theater tomorrow into eternal reality.  I could be in that group.  So could you.

Dates and equations, histrionics and drama aside, maybe Rev. Camping isn’t as crazy as everyone is saying he is.  And maybe I am a prophet.

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Free Disruption

4 11 2010

The tickets were free.  We sat with the main act (and about 100 others) having a conversation before the show.  Nothing is free anymore.  But this hour was – and with no strings attached!  No signing up for email onslaughts or a Facebook group.  These three guys extended themselves and shared their hearts with us.  Their gesture, more than their words, spoke into my soul.

They talked about music, about God, and how we, as worship leaders, take people on a journey that is sacred by disrupting churchi-ness and shaking up pre-conceived stereotypes of who God is.  What they said resonated throughout the room like a rich chord on an old Gibson guitar.  New methods and ideas criss-crossed the audience and bounced from person to person as others shared.  And yet, it still came down to this: the only way to lead someone in worshiping the God of All is to first personally seek Him.  With all that I am, I pursue the Great I Am.  Anything less doesn’t make sense.

As the three guys wrapped up our conversation, my mind wandered to the melee I was about to enter downstairs.  The thumping bass told me that the opening band had already started for the hundreds of fans filling the seats.  I reasoned that spending an hour hearing from three fellow travelers was worth the sacrifice of sitting in a back corner during the concert.  But then, out of nowhere as we stood to leave holding our general admission tickets, an usher in the back announced that if we showed our free passes from the discussion at the door downstairs, the staff would lead us to reserved seating for the concert!

What??  My free pre-show pass entitled me to reserved seating?  (Insert Aflac duck staggering and shaking its head!)

I could make a dozen or more applications with eloquent metaphors, but they would cover grace with kitsch.  Instead, I continue to shake my head in wonder remembering that walk through the rows of seats up to the front.  What an unforgettable way to begin a night of worship!

Jeremy Camp leading us - not too bad for a photo from a phone!

Conversations, a ministry of Integrity Music led by Jeremy Camp, Carlos Whittaker, and John Mark McMillan





Two Scoops with a Cherry on Top

26 05 2010

When events during an NCIS investigation start lining up, the agents just have to look at their leader, Special Agent Gibbs, and they say what he’s thinking for him.  “I know boss, you don’t believe in coincidence.”

I don’t either.  Here are just a few from the last week.

Our church is in the middle of a capital campaign to do some much needed renovation.  The 1970’s décor is reason enough to do a few things, but there are also come serious cracks in the walls and roof, the pews limit the use of our largest space to congregational or audience-type gatherings, and the exterior is letting in the weather, contributing to the cracks and water stains.  So church leaders have encouraged us to pray and ask God what He will give through us.  So far it sounds like a typical money pitch.  But the cool thing is that it hasn’t been.  We are a mostly white, suburban church that has been comfortable for quite some time.  Until now.  I think this is just the first step in allowing Jesus to resume headship in order to take us where we can’t go on our own.

My husband and I prayed about it and through around a figure early on that was quite a stretch.  Then we heard the Spirit tell us to triple it.  OK.  This is definitely a faith-walk now!  We work for a ministry and raise support so we can buy groceries and pay the mortgage.  Not sure HOW we’re going to be able to help pay for chairs and new walls.  But that’s the point, right?

We decided the amount we will write on our pledge card on Thursday.  On Friday, we got a check in the mail for exactly the same huge amount.  We can’t just hand it over; it’s made out to the ministry we work for, but that’s not the point.  We weren’t expecting the check, and it’s exactly the amount we pledged.  And since we don’t get our PO Box mail everyday, the check was probably sitting there for a while – just waiting.  Coincidence?  Uh… no.

The next day I feverishly worked on an article all day that was due to a publisher on Monday.  Knowing we had a graduation party and baby shower to go to on Sunday afternoon, I kept thinking about going out and getting gift cards.  But it didn’t happen, and I didn’t stress about it.  (Normally, I would be stressed and figure out a way to make it happen.)  I DID at least figure out how much would go in each card.

Sunday after church a guy on the worship team gave me the tithe from his yard sale earnings with, “I know it’s not much, but here you go.”  Sweet.  THEN his wife comes up, does and says the same thing!  On the way home I realized it was exactly what we needed to put in the cards.  I even found two perfect cards in my stash – no stress, no craziness, just perfect provision.  Definitely NOT coincidence.

This week I’ve been home by myself in the evenings because my husband is playing in the band for a local musical.  Since I enjoy my alone time, it’s been good.  I also need to mention, however, that we are down to one car now, so I’m not just at home- I’m home without a car.  Monday evening, after eating leftovers while making a grocery list, I said out loud, “I want some ice cream.”  The food ads were definitely doing their job!  We didn’t have any in the house and walking wasn’t an option since it was over 85 degrees which would melt me and the ice cream.  Just then the telephone rang.  A friend asked what I was doing, and would I like to join her for ice cream, her treat, since she had a 2-for-1 coupon.  I laughed out loud-several times that night.

Some would say these were coincidences.  Some would say that God was showing off for me.  I say that He loves me.  A ridiculously, double-scoop-with-a-cherry-on-top whole lot!





First (and Last) Fruits

29 09 2009

LAST FRUIT (Sep 29, 2009)

The last crop of 2009

The last crop of 2009

My ears ache and my nose is running.  Last week I was wearing shorts, and all the windows in the house were wide open.  Today I wore two sweaters and jeans on my morning walk and matched the brisk weather with a crisp pace.  Fall is officially here.

Yesterday I picked what I think will be the last of the tomato crop.  Once the days are cooler and less sunny, the green ones stop ripening.  My mother-in-law picks all the green tomatoes before the last frost and somehow manages to get them to turn red in the house.  I’ve tried her method.  “Wrap them in newspaper and leave them in the cellar, then when they begin to turn yellow, put them on the kitchen window sill, and be sure to turn them daily.”  All I ever got was newspapers soaked with the juice of a couple dozen rotting green tomatoes in the basement.  I left all the green ones on the vines.

The last tomato harvest turns summer to fall for me and sets the “before winter” to-do list into motion.  Gardens must be cleaned out, overgrown perennials split up and moved, and Christmas planning begun.  The cooler temperatures are energizing, but the last tomato crop is always a wistfully sad day for me.

There will be eight months before seedlings begin to appear in the garden from last year’s drops.  Then another two filled with cultivating, thinning, tying vines to the fence, and daily watching for the first ripe fruit.

FIRST FRUIT  (Jul 26, 2009)

Ripening Tomatoes

Note quite ripe

I’ve been watching everyday for a couple of weeks now, ever since I got a photo from a friend from a warmer growing zone of her first garden harvest.  Just yesterday I looked—no ripe tomatoes yet.  Sigh.  Summer isn’t fully here until the tomatoes are ripe.

And today, I knew there be any ripe overnight, but I looked anyway from across the yard while “taking in the warshing”, as my gramma used to say.  And I saw red!  Leaving the towels draped over the edge of the basket, I had to get closer.  YES!  I had an entire cluster of cherry tomatoes turned bright red and untouched by bugs or birds (quite rare in my garden!)  I picked the two reddest, pulled off the stems, and rubbed the droplets of whatever that stuff is that makes a tomato plant smell weird and gets your hands sticky green. I paused, just briefly in full salivation mode, to wonder why the first tomato of the season taste so good, and then I more than tasted it—I put the entire fruit in my mouth and bit down.

Slightly sweet, and wonderfully tart juice burst into and out of my mouth trickling down my chin, since I couldn’t but help grin, thus breaking the first rule of cherry tomato eating: never, under any circumstances, open your mouth when biting down.  Again, I thought about why these two particular tomatoes are so special.  They really didn’t taste as good as the ones I will let stay on the vine just a little longer, testing my luck with the bugs and birds, until the sun transforms them into the sweet acidic gems in my salads.

But they are the First.  I have waited since last fall for this taste, through the barrenness of winter (surviving on grocery store imitations), the toil of spring, and the anticipation of summer.  The deliciousness, I think, is intensified by the long wait.

Some years I have given a Biblical First Fruits Offering, by taking the first luminous tomatoes to a neighbor.  The sacrifice of waiting just a couple more days for more green tomatoes to soak up the sun’s ripening power is intensely real and acute.  The recipient doesn’t even know the gift they are eating, but that’s part of the sacrifice.

——————–

Waiting is hard in America because we have the economic infrastructure to gratify our desires.  We truck in produce from warmer climes; we have express checkout lanes in grocery stores; Fed-Ex profits from our need-to-have-it-now culture; and if circumstances don’t happen quickly enough, we feel we have a right to complain.  If we don’t have the money for what we want, we buy on credit instead of building a fund from week to week until we put the last dollar in the jar.

Watching my tomatoes this summer has taught me a valuable lesson– I guess I knew it, but never thought about it consciously.  By giving in to my desires and pushing aside the waiting, I rob myself of the sweetness that can only come after the waiting.

There is a bowl of tomatoes on my kitchen counter, but I’m already longing for the taste of the sun-warmed first-fruits next July.

What do you think?  Do you enjoy waiting?  Have you experienced the greater joy of delayed gratification?  I’d really like to know.

FINAL NOTE

You’ve been waiting for over a month (eagerly, I hope!) for this Ordinary Girl to post.  I promise to strive to post weekly, like I said I was going to (barring any computer crashes).  But… if you have to wait a little longer, maybe your enjoyment will be increased with the anticipation.





Peace on the rooftop

28 07 2009

Just a couple more photos from today before I head to bed….  and sweet peace.

(Read Uncovered, below to make sense of the pics.)

Very large and spikey frozen missiles

Very large and spikey frozen missiles

Patient Impatiens

Patient Impatiens

Ripped shingle, rusty nail

Ripped shingle, rusty nail

Solid panels of honey-colored plywood

Solid panels of honey-colored plywood

Rest and peace

Rest and peace





Happy Apple Birthday

19 06 2009

This morning after sleeping in on a luxurious day off, I had a late Birthday Breakfast.  Nothing special—two rice cakes with unsweetened peanut butter and an apple.  But in that ordinariness a blessing was waiting!

Several days ago I left a note for our son to buy milk, eggs, and a bag of apples at Aldi on his way home from work.  He did, but I’ve been so busy with work (early mornings/late nights) I hadn’t been in the fridge to see if he had remembered.  This morning as I began gathering my breakfast, I noticed the five gallons of milk and three dozen eggs.  The bag of apples was also where it should be, in the fruit drawer, and I retrieved it and set it on the counter.

 

As I turned to get a plate, the label caught my eye:  Chazy Orchards.  “NO WAY!” I laughed out loud!  ‘The largest MacIntosh Orchards in the World’ were just a few miles from our previous home in West Chazy, New York.  My imagination walked back to our home there, and I smiled.  Not a clear-across-my-face grin, but a wistful nod.  Troubles and heartache have continued to bombard us since moving to Indiana several years ago.  Thoughts of home in West Chazy during a simpler time surrounded me—like an ample cloak, heavy with familiar comfort.  Yet as I remembered more realistically, I realized that even after 16 years, it still hadn’t really been home.

So I asked myself where home is for me.  Working backward through the places I’ve lived, I came up empty.  Both my family growing up, and now my married family, have moved into towns and cities and not been able to become a part of the “home town” circle.  My roots go down quickly and deeply, but they have always been stunted by the clay of long-established associations.  There are places, however, which have seemed more like home than others—and it’s always been because family was nearby.

For me home=family, whether or not I have felt included in the lives of others around me.  The sadness that no place feels like home is an emotional cord that grows stronger with each heartache, tying me with growing longing to my True Home and Forever Family.  That is my home where I belong—truly belong.  That is where real family lives and loves.  That is where every good and perfect gift originates… like a bag of Chazy Orchards apples!








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