The Way He’s Here–The Way I Long For Heaven

Sometimes I sense the presence of God. Sometimes I sense the Holy Spirit inside of me. Like today, the Holy Spirit was like a blanket over the top of Madeline and Monica and I during Madie’s baptism. But sometimes, I feel Him. Jesus. It’s like the presence of God, but also the presence of a person. Fulfilling one actual, person-sized, space. One day I was singing and church and I felt him walk up behind me and he just put his arms around me while I sang for him. When I left the church he held my hand and we walked out. It was so real I expected someone to shake his hand. When I left the church, He left too.

The idea that God, an unimaginabe, unfathomable, incredible, bigger-than-the-universe being would love us enough to wrap himself in skin. He became like us. Not just in looks. But also in scars. I love the story of Thomas. Thomas wasn’t willing to believe until he saw the scars. And I read that story from my perspective. I remember a youth leader once telling me that Jesus, on the cross, felt all my pain. He didn’t just die for us. He came into our worlds. That part of you that you feel like no one understands–Jesus gets it. Jesus has FELT it. He put himself in the place to feel it… and to conquer it. And with his conquering he gave a promise to us.

Jesus’ promise? He gave up everything and came as a King and a Priest and the God of the Universe to ask us. To ask me. To ask you. To marry him. We, who have nothing, can accept the engagement to be married to the son of God. He has promised he will come back for his bride.

I wanted to talk about Christmas, that being the date. Many girls I think want Christmas engagements. This is what I’m talking about. God arranged a marriage before the world began. In which we, who have nothing, would be promised to the Son who had everything. And the world who stole us and held us captive and took away our pricelessness, would put a price on our heads. And the Son who was dressed in Glory and infinite riches would come and not just pay the price on our heads, which was nearly worthless, but would pay the price of himself, which was infinite. It’s about love. It’s about sacrifice.

I just read the Gospel of John this week, and Jesus talks much about fasting after the groom leaves, waiting for his return. My eyes fill with tears. Tears of longing and tears of Joy. In a world of brokenness we only feel the presence of God sometimes. But He’s coming back for us. And I love him. I love the way He speaks. I love the way He holds my hands. I love the way He loved. And I long to see him face to face. “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”– 1 Corinthians 13:12

“Oh I’m running to your arms, I’m running to your arms, the riches of your love will always be enough. Nothing compares to your embrace. Light of the world forever REIGN.”

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Bringing the Kingdom: Part 1

In the New Testament, Jesus tells us that the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. We can reach out and touch us. He shows us to pray “let your kingdom come.” We can bring the kingdom. I’m talking about letting your light shine. When I was first saved I was about five years old, and I knew that Jesus was in Heaven, but I also knew I had asked him into my heart… This confused me, and I remember we were driving down the road near our house, and I was wondering if that meant that when I died I would somehow fold into my own heart, because that’s part of where heaven was? Not particularly, I’m not sure that’s a very theologically sound idea, but I do think that maybe I was on the right track. When you accept Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of you, you become part of the Kingdom of Heaven, and your heart is changed. The Kingdom is in you. You’re now almost like an electrical cord, you need to allow God’s power to flow you, into the world, to bring his power, and glory.  And if you think about it,  you’re now his hands and feet, doing the work of his character, and his character is very different from anything on earth. But how do you do that?

Sometimes we get really caught up in making new programs within the church in order to share the love of Christ or the joy of Christ. Now, programs are good things, they accomplish good things, but you don’t always need a program. You can’t live your life in a program. What about at school? What about at work? What does it look like to bring the kingdom there? What does it look like to reach out, grab it, and show it to them? Evangelism, of course, service, most entirely. But what about something even simpler?

Last year, I was working at Chick-fil-A, probably singing (I sing at work A LOT), when a young man came up to me and told me that my smile lit up the whole place, and to never stop smiling because it was beautiful. Now, I’ve heard some guys tell me some very odd things while at work… But this felt really genuine. I knew that I was smiling out of the joy in my heart, and I wonder if he saw that too. I’ve kind of taken what he said to heart, and it’s grown into a theory that if you smile at someone enough they will eventually smile back.

Smiles are infectious!  Sometimes, I play a game in drive-thru when I working, I try to get everyone to smile back at me just by me smiling. It’s surprisingly effective, you should try it sometime. I laugh, whenever I hear someone else laugh, because joy is just infectious. I love that. I definitely believe that you can change someone else’s mood just by sharing your own. The other person might not realize it, but it’s true. At work, this is especially notable, in customers and also in employees, one person with a bad mood can bring down the whole team, but a person with a good mood, can pull everything back together. That joy we feel with Christ, that can be easily shared, just with a smile.

I serve a customer at work every friday night, he orders two chicken sandwiches without pickle, a medium fry and always asks for exactly two BBQ sauces. I always wonder how the order taker can hear him because he’s extremely quiet. The first time he came through, I noticed he didn’t seem to be in a good mood, so I smiled at him, but he didn’t smile back, so I smiled wider. He comes through sometimes more than once a week, and I began to recognize him and his order, and with determination, I wanted him to smile. Every week, I smiled, he NEVER smiled back. It frustrated me SO much. All summer long, I smiled, I grinned, I laughed, trying to encourage him to grab onto the joy I had, even for just a second. I think if I was to ask him why he never smiled, he would say there wasn’t a reason too. He seems like the brooding type.

The other night, I took his order, and I knew it was him, so I put his sauce in the bag, and when he asked for the sauce I told him, “I already got it for you, you always get the same thing, so I made sure it was all in the bag” and I kind of laughed a bit, and he did too, he smirked, and replied “Yeah, I do, don’t I?” It made my night. My high-pitched, piercing laugh bounced off the wall when he drove away, and my coworkers looked at me strangely,  and I said to them “He smiled.”

It’s not a huge deal, a smile. But it carries so much weight at the same time. We share our lives everyday with people we may never really get to know, people we only see, and if we let our joy shine, people are bound to notice, and they’ll be able to see it just for a moment, some one cares, someone else thinks there’s something in this world to smile about. I want to get people to smile back.

Opening Blind Eyes; Seeing Glory

How would you describe light to someone who has always been blind? It’s bright, for sure, but how do you describe the idea of sight? The idea of color?

Did you ever think that maybe these nearly impossible-to-describe phenomenons, were there to helps us understand what we can’t see? The spiritual things. The glory of God?

Did you ever think that maybe the glory of God, can be seen? In a color, in a cloud, in a light? ‎1 Kings 8:10&11 says “When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.” It was a visible sign of God, his glory manifested physically.

Isaiah 43:8 says this: Lead out those who have eyes but are blind,
who have ears but are deaf.

We have eyes, but we aren’t seeing. The Bible says that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. We can touch it, we can bring it, if we open our eyes we can see it.

Have you ever seen glory? Look through Heaven’s eyes.

Midnight thoughts & questions.