Anyway, I have some spiritual things to share. Three to be exact. But it could turn into more. There are no guarantees. . . And let me just say, I'm an ordinary person. I'm NOT Ms Spirituality. In fact, if any of my co-workers read this post, they would prob be shocked. But I will say this: God has been dealing with me a lot, esp in the last six months. And i think a lot of it is due to my son. He has always been a very spiritually minded person, even as a little kid before we went to church or took him. He reads his Bible twice a day (am and pm) and prays and really means it. I have a feeling he's been praying for his momu (sounds like mama). It's not that i haven't believed, it's that I've been complacent. And if you're not going forward, you're go backward. Anyway. . . .
First i would like to say that God is an awesome God. Can you believe that with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we no longer have to go through a priest to talk and commune with God?!? When Christ died and the curtain in the temple was ripped from top to bottom, God Himself made a way for us to come directly into His presence. That is amazing that God wants a relationship with an ordinary sinful person like me and He has invited me into His presence! WOW!
This really hit home when we went to Eureka Springs, AR, to the Passion Play. It wasn't actually the Passion Play that made the impression but the 'Tour Through the Holy Land', which we were late for - more on that in a minute. We had a very limited amount of time for the tour and we were told that the temple was a 'must see'. So we got there and they had an actual temple built to the best possible scale and replication and a person in period clothing acting as a rabbi, i think. Anyway, he took us to the alter and explained about the sacrifices that were brought and how they had to meet such rigorous standards and all the cleansing processes. And to see it in person and imagine the fire coming down and consuming that sacrifice - really amazing.
But the most amazing part was seeing the holy of holies. They had a room prepared with a Plexiglas wall so we could see in. And the man talked about the ritual washings and prayers that the priest would have to go through before he could go into the presence of God. And if he was not thorough or honest or truly repentant he would die - have to be drug out by a rope around his ankle (i guarantee you the next guy was careful!). And when Christ died for our sins he became that pure and blameless sacrifice that could cleanse us, and the curtain was torn so that we could go freely into the presence of God.
And yes, i cried right there in the middle of that crowd of people because I'm so unworthy, but he knew that and did it anyway. . .
OK, that wasn't one of things i wanted to share, but there's your bonus. And if you get a chance, you should really listen to the words of the song "Redeemer" by Nicole C. Mullin. I was listening to that on the drive home last night and crying.
I am a bit weepy lately, but it is still amazing. . .
And related to all that is one of the things i wanted to share. A woman i work with is really sweet and good hearted, but not a christian. However, she has always sent her youngest child to a religious daycare (catholic or episcopal). She has been disillusioned with people who profess Christianity and live like the devil - can't blame her. But a while back, maybe 6 months, she was going through a lot with her teenage daughter and she said, 'Pray. Please pray for me." I thought, that is my chance - she has a hunger or desire somewhere in there or she wouldn't have asked. Almost daily I have prayed for her to be drawn to God and for Him to show me how i can be used. Well, a few weeks ago we were talking about our kids and their 'inborn' spirituality (unfortunately, not the teenage daughter) She told me that her son had brought a book home from preschool that was an intro to the Bible, but she said about the time she was really hooked into it, the passage would be over. Well, it so happens (insert that God had already prepared the situation) that i had purchased a Bible on sale, but had decided that i didn't really need it and i should return it. I had even tried once, but it was too soon after the check had been written, so i had taken it back home and kept forgetting to bring it to town. When she said she had been interested in learning more, i immediately thought of the Bible. The cool thing is, it is a Quest NIV for people that want answers to everyday questions about the Bible! As you read, there are questions in the margin about the passage you are reading and the scholars opinion and where to look for supporting verses. So I cautiously told her i had a Bible that i had gotten on sale dirt cheap but planned to return and would she be okay with me offering it to her. She said that was fine, she would like it. And she wanted moisturizer from me, too. (ha ha) Long story short, i had her name engraved on the Bible (so she couldn't give it away easily) and I gave it to her yesterday. She said how beautiful it was, and then she opened the box and talked about how it had her name on it and she had never had a Bible engraved with her name! and look at the gold pages! and the leather smells so good! and it's so beautiful. . . now she wants to go to church! WOW! I'm so excited for her and I'm so humbled that God used me to bring her closer to Him. I know he used a donkey, but that donkey hadn't sinned and lived a human life that is not always (rarely?) a good example of Christianity.
The next thing i wanted to share was that i have a friend from college that is in a constant state of depression. I think it is primarily a habit and to a certain extent how she was raised. The frustrating part is how she is constantly saying how nobody cares about her, then you have to reaffirm your feelings of care and friendship. It is very draining, to say the least. I was particularly at a limit with her the other day, and i called to vent to my friend Anna, that doesn't know this girl. Anna called me back the next day and said she had awakened thinking about the girl and wanted me to think about telling her this thought. Before i share, let me tell you that by the time i talked to Anna, the message was as much for me as the girl, if not more. I had a terrible day at work with a constant underlying harassment from a c0-worker. It really bothered me, in spite of my best efforts to let it roll off my back. And here is what Anna told me, which i believe was really from the Holy Spirit: She said, "You know, Job had nobody. No friends or family. Even his wife had turned her back on him. But he had a right relationship with God. And it is our relationship with God that matters - NOT OTHERS!" How awesome is that? As long as i act right, who cares if that woman is hateful or degrading, as long as i know my relationship with God is in good standing? (and if my relationship with God is right, then i will be acting right).
And Anna thought she was giving me advice for the other girl. . . ;-)
The third and final thing i had planned to share was this. I recently had laproscopic gall bladder surgery. After they had given me the initial sedatives and asked me a gazillion questions, they left me alone and i lay there and thought about the fact that i could die, even though this is a fairly routine operation. I started to pray (prob not an uncommon event in the O.R. holding area) and i esp prayed for my son in the event that i died during or as a result of the operation. I thanked God for him, and prayed that he would continue to bring him up in a love for the Lord. Then, of course, i prayed for forgiveness (I'm no dummy, ya know!). As i lay there and thought about if i was really ready to die, i realized that if i did die, i would be in heaven that very day! Now i have always been skeptical of people that say that they are ready to go now, and seem enthusiastic about it, even. But I honestly got a shiver from the excitement about the fact that i had prayed, my business was taken care of, my son would be fine, and i could see Jesus in heaven that day! It was such a feeling, that i am still in awe that i was excited and not worried about the prospect. Now, granted, I am very, VERY glad i made it and didn't die (though i felt like i might that first day), but it is just so odd to me that i was not only okay with it, but excited. Wow, i really am saved! :-D
Now, back to why we were late to the 'Holy Land'. We were in Eureka Springs, AR, for a church trip. I went with the youth group as a chaperon (ie, person who gets a 'vacation' without sleep) and we were in the church bus. All the smart people, uh, i mean, other adults, were in a separate vehicle. Anyway, the youth pastor and I decided we would take the kids to see some sights, including Thorncrown Chapel. Thorncrown chapel is a chapel built on the side of the mountain and is completely made of glass. The interior has a stone floor and the rock walls are about two feet high, otherwise glass, save the beams. And those trees you see are not a reflection, they are on the other side of the chapel - you're looking through the glass.
So, for those of you that don't know, Eureka Springs is in the Ozark mountains. The Ozarks are not a huge or grand mountain range, but they're still mountains. Esp when you're driving without a guard rail, not even a shoulder on the road, only a few inches where they built up the road with flimsy gravel because you're on the side of a freakin' mountain and there's a drop that is straight down, and it's on your side and your sitting in a church van which is higher than most vehicles which means that you have even further to fall if the very young, inexperienced youth pastor/driver wobbles three inches to the right while he's talking to the kids and messing with radio and "could you please slow down a little, you're making me nervous and my only son is on board, sorry, thank you" and 'dear God, please forgive me of all me sins and I forgive everyone else, too (cause you gotta do that to get yours to work, and this could be the last minutes of my life, and surgery is an easier way to die, but i hadn't even had the surgery yet, so i didn't know i was excited, so work with me) and my GOSH, it is a loooooong way down there. And then it happened. We had a tire 'issue' on one of the back tires. Which is to say, there was suddenly a loud noise, slapping rubber and great concern. But immediately there was a road that was fairly level to the side, no traffic and we turned. And let me tell you, there are never roads to he side - you're on a mountain after all. And we stopped and the youth pastor got out and then he saw some fluid and yells, "everybody, out of the van!" So we did like half of a chinese fire drill and ran for the very nice large rock embankment in case it was gasoline and the van blew up. It turns out that the back tires on our 'new' used church van were retreads and the entire tread had come off, except for maybe six inches. When it did, it cut a line under the van, which turned out to happily not be fuel or brakes, but a line for the heater fluid. Here's a pic and you might be able to tell by the marks that the tread (laid out on the ground behind the tire) spun around against the side of the van and was so long, it went above the bottom edge of the windows.
Anyway, you can not understand how amazing it is that we did not go off the side of the mountain, and that there was a such a safe place for us to wait and work on the van. I have never seen this road before and i could not believe how amazingly God provided for us. I am so thankful.
OK, here's one final pic. It is called the Christ of the Ozarks. It is five stories tall, and you can see it from all the different surrounding mountains. It mostly has sentimental value, because i remember my grandaddy being excited to see it from distances.