"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I Think God Laughed

I got to the church early this morning to prepare my music for the upcoming service. The doors leading from the narthex into the worship center were still closed and the sanctuary itself was still dark. As is often my custom when the church is empty, I walked through the main doors down the center aisle. Because I can tend to be a might demonstrative in my worship, I usually throw open my arms and say something aloud to God upon my entrance. But for some reason this morning, I kept the words contained in my mind and my motions to a minimum as I thought, "Good morning, Lord. I acknowledge Your Presence here in this place." Almost without missing a beat, I heard this deep, rich voice come from the rafters overhead: "Good morning, Nancy."

Indeed, what we wait for all our lives: to hear the voice of God. To know for sure He exists. And He had spoken. To me! He had read my mind and even called me by name, for crying out loud. Audibly! It was a moment that I would cling to forever hoping upon hope for yet another word.

So very slowly, I twisted my body and lifted my head to see if I might get a glimpse of this One who puts us in a cleft and passes by. And there, sitting in the balcony, as I live and breathe ... was a deacon trying to learn how to use the sound system.

I think God laughed. I know I did.

Just an ordinary moment...

Friday, May 27, 2011

In the End.... (A Final Few American Idol Thoughts)

I have a confession to make: I have an addiction. It's not a pretty one, but by all social standards, at least it is acceptable. However, of late, I've been finding myself sneaking around to indulge, and that's never a good sign. Sometimes I stay up very late; other times I'll take a morning "break." And last week during a short vacation with my husband, I "excused" myself for a moment -- several times. But this week I threw caution to the wind. On Wednesday night at 8:00, I pulled out a portable stadium cushion from the hall closet, filled up a styrofoam cup with iced tea, and planted myself in front of the small TV out in my "garden enclosed" -- a.k.a. sun room. Yes, I'm a full-fledged American Idol junky. It was the 2-hour 2011 finale and I was not going to miss it. After all, I had seen every single episode since mid January and knew every contestant by name. I had even voted on occasion! And so I planted myself in front of the tube for one last trip of the season.

Of course, to get to the actual culmination of the American Idol winner, I had to endure an hour and 55 minutes of preliminaries: preliminaries which consisted of an assortment of entertainers. From Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, and Tom Jones to Carrie Underwood and Tim McGraw to Jack Black, Beyonce, Lady Ga Ga and Judas Priest. How much more diverse can one get? I have to admit there were times when even this seasoned AI enthusiast had to turn her head due to some of the worldly sport being played out. It was just too much for me.

But this season of American Idol has not been completely lost. I would find myself often times praying not only for the contestants and their parents but also the judges. I was particularly drawn to Scotty McCreery's mother, Judy, as week after week, she and Scotty's dad, Mike, sat in the audience supporting their 17 year old son. Without their ever saying a word, I sensed an extremely strong faith in these two. I also found myself offering up prayers for the judges -- particularly Steven Tyler, probably the most crass of the 3, but the one I believe to have the most supple heart to respond to God's wooing. O Lord, may it be...

American Idol pulled out every stop to make Wednesday's finale the best and probably the most costly ever. Wind, fire, huge name entertainers and even a "spider" falling from the rafters. And, of course, the confetti. It seemed no stone was left unturned.

And so after numerous episodes -- sometimes as many as 3 a week -- the moment finally arrived for Ryan Seacrest to announce the 2011 American Idol. As only he can do, the seconds turned into an eternity as America waited for the "s" sound or "l" sound to denote "Scotty" or "Lauren." And this time, it was Scotty. A young man who's not even old enough to vote, join the draft, buy a drink or smoke a cigarette. A fellow from NC who walked 4 miles while in Hollywood just to buy a sweet tea. One who though inundated with the world remained grounded in his faith and humble in his walk. This one had taken America by storm.

When Seacrest asked him what he was thinking in this moment, this one who had responded with such grace to even Lady Ga Ga's brash comments several weeks earlier, remained faithful to who he was and said: "I just thank the Lord for getting me this far."

Yes! Even in all of our illusion and disillusion, America chose an Idol that knows his place. As both the confetti and tears fell and as throngs applauded, I was reminded of the Word that says, "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:10-11).

The truth is that in the end, ALL the nations will come together and bow down before the Lord and shall glorify His name (Ps. 86:9). And rest assured, He will not be just any idol voted on by the people. This One was chosen before the foundation of the would to be eternally beloved, adored, immortal, supreme, divine, holy, and very, very worthy of worship.

May we all be so addicted!

Just an ordinary moment...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

An Ordinary Moment Kind of Day

When I got up Thursday morning, I asked the Lord for an "ordinary moment" about which to write that day. At one point, I actually thought it might occur when the state patrolman bore down on my tail on the interstate between Atlanta and Forsyth. Thankfully, he was just getting a close-up view of the car next to me as moments later his blue lights went on (and my heart slowed down a pace) when he pulled the other fellow over.

Oh, but I had my holy moments indeed.

I got me lots of sugar.

I danced to Hillsong United.

I sang old familiar hymns.

I rocked... and rocked... and rocked...
Yes, some days are just ordinary moments made holy through and through.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Death of One Man

I remember sitting in a hotel dining room on St. Simon's Island June 11, 2001 watching the news of the Oklahoma City Bomber's execution. Timothy McVeigh had been put to death earlier that morning by lethal injection due to his setting the bomb which killed 168 people, 149 adults and 19 children, at a federal building some 6 years earlier. I was particularly struck by the interviews of some of the family members of those who had lost their lives. One woman said, "I thought this would bring some closure. But it doesn't."

Some of the same thoughts I had then I had yesterday while reading and watching the reports of Osama Bin Laden's assassination. The father of one of the many firemen who gave their lives that fateful day on Sept. 11, 2001 said basically the same thing on the evening news. "I was glad for a moment when I heard the news, but my mind quickly returned to my son." And with tears in his eyes, he said, "I still miss him so much... [pause] so, so much."

I certainly commend our military for a job well done. And I am fully aware it did not come without great cost to many. I have a friend whose son gave his life 2 years ago for just that moment. But what I do contend is that the death of one human-man can bring peace; for it cannot. It is only the God-man who can do that. And He did it.

And so today, my heart weeps for all those who while looking for closure found their wounds re-opened by Sunday's events. May they find solace and healing not because one man died, but because one Man gave His life. A Man who doesn't necessarily take away the pain, but who bends down and enters into it with them. The Man Christ Jesus.

Just an ordinary moment...