I'm baaaack! Scary, isn't it??!! I'm back from my trip will Jill Savage feeling renewed and refreshed. We had a total of about 5 hours of drive time and took full advantage of some girl time. I really don't think there was a quiet moment the entire trip - I found that we have much in common. I know, I know, your probably wondering how I could talk that much, right??!! :) :) She spoke at a mom's group on marriage. I had heard her give the message before, but the reminders were much needed and I was thankful to be a part of it all. She has been encouraging women through Hearts at Home for over 15 years. Check out Jill at www.jillsavage.com and Hearts at Home at www.heartsathome.org.
My friend, Kathy Rygh posted this on her blog and I wanted to share it with you. What a powerful statement it made to me.
Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it
I have heard this Psalm many times, but it has never struck my heart as true as it did this morning.
I woke up early as I usually do on the weekend, around 5:30 am, to find everything covered in a beautiful blanket of white this morning. This was a beautiful sight as today is the first Sunday in Advent and we are full on into the Christmas season. I left my house a little early so I could 'run in to Wal-Mart' and get a few things. I found myself grumbling all the way because the roads were slushy, it was cold outside and it was still snowing and that leads to a bad hair day. After an hour at the store, I headed off to church, gathering my thoughts in the car as I went and preparing my heart to hear the words that would be spoken there today.
For the past few months, we have had a very special guest attending our services. Out of respect for his privacy, I will call him "Joe", although anyone who shops regularly at the local Wal-Mart will recognize him just by the description. Joe was born with certain challenges that might have held back others - but not Joe. This blonde-haired, blue-eyed ray of sunshine beams right into each of our hearts when he is around. He is forever cheerful, upbeat, caring, and worships with all his heart and soul. There is utterly no human way that you can speak to him and not walk away with a smile in your heart. This brings me to the Psalm mentioned above - . . . "let us rejoice and be glad in it."
I chose a seat close to the outside of the row of pews, as I was the reader today and needed to be able to get out easily. I was the only one in that row until Joe came and asked if it was okay if he sat with me today. What an honor that felt like! Now, from the moment we sat down, he never left my side. In fact, he moved in closer, as if to say, "I'm right here if you need me."
The service began and as we normally do we start off with a hymn. Joe is quite accomplished on the piano and reads music quite nicely so no sooner than the organ started playing, Joe's voice rang out next to mine with such joy and abandon I couldn't help but smile. Why can't we all just sing with joyful abandon? When the first prayer began, Joe reached over and grabbed my hand tight. I was surprised at first but gladly accepted his hand knowing that there was genuine sincerity in his offering it to me. We held hands tightly with every prayer that followed, and if he forgot, I took his hand. Rejoice and be glad in it!
Upon returning to my seat after I had done the readings for the day. He heartily hugged me and said, "That was awesome!" He had ME beaming from ear to ear with his smile. Following the readings Pastor began her sermon. It was a wonderful story to help us all better understand how God knows we need help even before we cry out to him. At every turn of the story, Joe would look at me and we would discuss briefly the meanings behind what she was saying. When she was finished, Joe grabbed my hand and shouted, "Intense!" It was, indeed, intense. Isn't it amazing that God knows we need him even before we ask? Wow. Intense! Rejoice and be glad in it!
Soon it was time for us to approach the altar for communion. One by one we rose from our seats and proceeded to form our orderly lines, much as we do many other Sundays throughout the year. But somehow today was different for me, just being with Joe and watching his unequalled excitement with every phase of worship – something many of us do routinely and without thinking much. When handed the communion wafer and the words spoken "the body of Christ given for you" Joe exclaimed quite loudly, "Amen, Pastor!" I immediately noticed every face around me smiling. They were not laughing at Joe, but they were relishing the joy with which he enjoyed worshiping our Lord. I am sure, like me, there were a few who were thinking, "Why don't we all worship like that?" Rejoice and be glad in it!
At the end of the service, the women of our church presented boxes full of home-baked goodies to our college students and military service personnel. As one of the military moms in the congregation I was up to accept the package for my daughter. Pastor lead a prayer of blessing for all of these students and soldiers and as is usual for me, I cried. I always cry when we pray for the military, although I try to hold it in and almost always fail. When I returned to my seat, Joe was there waiting with his arms open wide to give me a hug and tell me it would be okay. Selfless, unconditional love – Wow! Intense! Rejoice and be glad in it!
Spending one hour of worship time with Joe this morning was an enormous blessing. He did not care if it was snowing, or the roads were slushy, or he was having a bad hair day. He showed me, in all of his unbridled energy and glory, that "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." Thanks to the joyful heart of Joe, I now have a truer vision of how God wants us to rejoice and be glad in it.
Have a great day
Living fearlessly in Christ