Wednesday, August 31, 2016

An Obvious Blessing Hidden in Plain Sight

One of my favorite insights from Corrie ten Boom in her book, The Hiding Place, happens before their captivity. She and her sisters place their mother, who recently suffered a stroke, at the upstairs window of the watch shop. She writes,

"Mama’s love had always been the kind that acted itself out with soup pot and sewing basket. But now that these things were taken away, the love seemed as whole as before. She sat in her chair at the window and loved us. She loved the people she saw in the street—and beyond: her love took in the city, the land of Holland, the world. And so I learned that love is larger than the walls that shut it in." (p. 44)

And so it is. Our love for others is not hindered by illness, disease, distance or time. Prayer supersedes them all. Love, through prayer, thought and motive overcomes limitations. What joy we have in loving others, even when we cannot physically express it.

That same love is evident in worship. We love the Lord with our words and actions throughout the week. We also love Him with our expressions and emotions. One of my greatest joys each week is to watch others during our Sunday morning worship service. Parents hold hymnals on pew backs and underline words with their fingers as children follow along. Those who have memorized familiar words, sing with full voice, heads held high. Others stumble and follow along, unsure of the melody or words, but confident in the One who receives it. Perhaps it looks different at your church, but in Christ, we worship with one heart our one God of all.

As I look across our congregation, I know that individuals are struggling with health, in relationships, challenging job situations and financial hardships. But I watch them sing freely, offering a sacrifice of praise, despite their circumstances--and that is a beautiful gift. I cannot begin to describe its measure--grandparents, international students, single men and women, newlyweds, children, full-nesters and empty-nesters--the wonder of hearts knit together.

This Sunday, look at your fellow citizens, your future roommates, and eternal companions. Don't miss the blessing of worshiping together; our God and Father, through Jesus Christ and by His Spirit. Thank God for His gift of one another, of your fellowship with Him and others through Christ. Enjoy the feast of worship, filled with the goodness and truth of of His Word, encouraged and spurred on by the love and faith of fellow saints. And if you find you can't, look to the Lord, His Word, and your heart. It's a good gift He wants you to enjoy the way He does.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. (Psalm 103:1-5)

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:15-22)

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