It's not as odd as it sounds...

Prayer happens everywhere, even in the tanning bed.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Dancing Sparrow....

Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs on your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7

I am amazed by God often. So often that any form of "Amazing Grace" brings me to tears. But today put me over the edge. It was Kate's first dance recital with Ballet Magnificat! There's very little in the performance of 7 seven year olds that should bring a grown woman to tears but there were several times when my composure was pushed beyond it's limits and it was all I could do to not look visibly emotional.

About 20 years ago, married only 5 years and with children far from my mind, I sat in a small Christian school auditorium in Fayetteville, NC watching a performance of a dance troupe I'd never heard of before. Ballet Magnificat! hailed from Jackson, MS and gained fame among the Christian community as a dance arts group that performed for two reasons only - to glorify God and bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. It was a small group of young women performing and I adored the music that they chose. Some contemporary Christian (at that time) and some classical but always pulling me in to their message through beautiful movement. I sat there thinking, "If I have a daughter, I would love her to dance with this company."

What a silly thought though. I had no idea when we'd have children or if God would even bless us with a daughter and to be honest, I had no intention of ever living in Jackson, MS.

Children came... first a son, then another son, then a daughter... a very sick daughter who God took home to be with Him. We did move to Jackson, MS and while there we had another son and we decided to be happy with our sweet little, healthy family. Still, when we saw little girls dancing in church it was very hard to not weep. In our minds, our little girl would dance - it always reminded us that God was raising our daughter, not us.

Then, to our surprise, we were blessed with another daughter. By the time she was three she was dancing with Doxa Dance Company in West Virginia. Terri Stutler, her teacher went every other year to Ballet Magnificat! for classes. WOW, I remembered all those years ago watching that performance. Isn't God weird? In a good way, I mean. She danced for two years before we found out we were moving... back to Jackson, MS.

She sat out a year from dancing. She wasn't sure she wanted to dance under anyone else but after seeing DVD's of "The Christmas Dream" performances of Ballet Magnificat! she decided it was time to get back in the game.

Less than one year later, I sat in an audience of hundreds watching my daughter fulfill MY dream. But really, it wasn't she that fulfilled it - it was God. Oh how true that He cares about the smallest of hopes and dreams. So now, we watch little girls dance to music that worships our Lord but we don't cry because our second daughter is dancing with them. Well, that's not true, I cry but it's because I am amazed at His grace, His love, His pleasure at gifting me with the realization of a little hope I had over 20 years ago.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Would I?

So, I'm reading Trial and Triumph (stories from church history) by Richard M Hannula during my quiet time. It's not all I read, obviously, but it's a great end to my time of scripture reading and prayer and by reading one chapter at a time I am able to get the whole book read in a couple of months. Seventeen years ago, that last sentence would have made me cry. Taking several months to read a book sounds awful. How could I have let my life get so busy? Kids. 'Nuf said.

It's been this book that I think may have exacerbated my little "funk" for the past 6 weeks that I have talked about in a couple previous blog postings. This book begins with the story of Polycarp (69-155 AD) winds through the Middle Ages, the Reformation, and into Modern Times with the closing story of Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of Voice of the Martyrs. From the first to the last these men and women of Christ found themselves tortured day and night for one thing and one thing only, loving Christ with all their heart, mind, and soul.

Day in and day out these men and women were beaten within minutes of their deaths but kept alive and in severe pain and encouraged to renounce their commitment to Christ. I use that word carefully - commitment - we have no idea of the true meaning of the word. Not all of these martyrs were older adults with years of experience seeing God's hand move in their lives and thus building the faith of a mountain. No, many were young, some no older than my own son Drew who although I think has a stronger spiritual foundation than most his age, I wonder if he's seen enough of God to enable him to stand against any "power or principality".

The question really is, could I? I have spent a lot of time thinking about it. Of course, here I am in what is currently a country that allows the freedom of worship. Certainly, there is a chance of getting teased or heckled or maybe on a really bad day, getting spit at but unlike in most countries in this world, my life isn't on the line because of Who I trust in. So it's relatively easy to say "Absolutely, they could burn me at the stake like they did Polycarp or they could imprison me and beat me for years like they did Richard Wurmbrand but I'd not recant, no way!" But really? Would I be as brave as I'd like to believe I would be? I don't know. And those three words bring me to tears and almost to nausea. What I think is true for all of us is this - the Holy Spirit is powerful in those of us who call on the name of Christ. It's the Holy Spirit that will lead me to say, like Polycarp said to his captors:

You threaten me with fire that burns for a little while
then goes out. But you are ignorant of the fire of
eternal punishment which is prepared for the
ungodly. Why do you wait? Come and do what
you want with me?
And then, once the wood and straw was doused with oil and the torch was being carried toward him, he lifted his head toward heaven and said:
Oh Lord God Almighty, the Father of your beloved Son,
Jesus Christ, through Whom we have received the
knowledge of You: I bless You for granting me
the honor of this day and hour that I might be
numbered among the martyrs. You are the
faithful and true God. To You be glory both now
and for the ages to come. Amen.