Restoration and Resurrection

God has had me on an adventure of restoration and my own personal resurrection it seems these last few weeks.  I can’t say that “it” started with my attending Road 5 at the amazing Road Adventure but the transformation that has been happening to me as of late was definitely nudged on and encouraged by the self value and God’s love for me that I often overlook.

The layers of what has transpired recently is many fold which indicates to me that this is God’s work in my life and He deserves the glory.  And that this significance for me to be taking place through Lent and as we celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection seems to drive the points home to my heart even deeper.

Different people celebrate Easter differently and I personally love how my church home, St. Laurence Church really takes the time to make sure we have the touches and feels for how very important the last days of Jesus’ life were.  During Lent, we have the Stations of The Cross every Wednesday night and this year we were were provided with booklets that encouraged greater association between our lives now and what was happening then to tie everything together closer and making the experience even more powerful.

Then there is Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday which signifies the night of the actual Lord’s Supper, complete with our clergy washing the feet of our congregation in service to us as in John 13:14-17. Here is a photo from last year’s service.

St. Laurence Maundy Thursday 2012 1

This year I missed this service to attend the first meeting of a Bible study my sister and I are participating in on the book Bait of Satan by John Bevere.  But from that night’s study, I came to better understand that false prophets could be and often are in today’s world those who viciously gossip and pull others down for their own gain.

Maundy Thursday ends with Christ moving to the Garden of Gethsemane where he is ultimately betrayed by Judas Escariot with a kiss.  While Jesus prays in the garden He comes to his followers who are there with Him and finds them asleep and says to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?” (Matt 26:40).  With this is mind, at St. Laurence the light of Christ and the Host are moved to a smaller chapel which is made to be like a garden during the services leading up to the Easter Vigil.  And on Thursday night from 8 pm to 8 am Friday morning, someone waits and honor in our “garden” with Jesus.

I went to wait and pray from 10 pm to 11 pm Thursday night.  The “garden” smelled heavenly with all of the roses and flowers and I was able to read back through the Maundy service I missed.  Here is a photo taken from outside of the chapel and then the moon coming up over the church as I left around 11.

St Laurence 2013 Wait for Christ

St. Laurence Thursday 3-28-2013 11pm

Friday, is Good Friday which is held for fasting and service.  Our church makes and serves a spaghetti lunch at The Union Gospel Mission in Ft. Worth and after being there the last 2 years, I had to miss this one but here are our peeps who were there.

St. Laurence peeps at UGM

At 3 pm, which is the hour that Jesus died in, I was very aware of the silence around me as I worked at my computer.  Friday night, we have a mass where we honor the cross as that is what Jesus died upon and we have the Host that was held over from the previous night and leave the church in silence mourning Jesus’ death for us.

Saturday, I met friends at the North Richland Hills Gateway Church for a visit and then worshiped with them at their 4 pm service.  As St. Laurence is so traditional, it is nice to compliment it with a little praise and worship and I know God is in both places.  Pastor Robert’s Easter message about the moment in time that Satan lost his battle and Jesus conquered him and returned the previously deceased saints to Heaven with a stop at the tomb in Jerusalem painted a vivid picture I needed that added a significant layer to my restoration.

I know God and Jesus wins, but I forget that the win has already taken place.  I let Satan and his negative thoughts steal in to my head, heart and soul from time to time like he does so many other places and heads, hearts and souls.  And often I find, I will actually even help Satan dig deeper into me by not rebuking him and reminding him that I know he is a LOSER.  He is very smart and perceptive.  He knows my buttons and my weaknesses and he doesn’t hesitate to play with them to make me question.  So it was good to get the reminder that the battle has already been won.

Saturday night at 8:15 pm, service at St. Laurence started in complete darkness with only the lights from the world coming through our lovely windows.  From there, a candle is lit and from that one candle every candle (one for everyone there) is lit representing Jesus’ resurrection and the spreading of His light in us.  It is very powerful and moving.  Everyone is dressed in their best besides the Easter finery they will bring out on Easter morning and we had a christening and a baptism along with our own re-commitment of our faith.

Sunday I chose to go help my friends from The Road Adventure in a fundraising opportunity.  Ten of us met at the Cotton Bowl and ran a concession stand during the Dallas Cup Soccer finals.  I learned a lot about making nachos and stuffing hot dogs in to bags and enjoyed a great day with friends who like to serve too.  And in return, God gave me a gift that I would have never expected.

It was actually a pretty slow day for the concession stand because many were at their churches (hopefully) and enjoying special Easter lunches with their families.  My family was dispersed with Steve flying back and forth to Miami (that’s another story for another day) and ironically it was the 14th anniversary of my mom, Starr going to Heaven.  Since it was so slow, there was people watching for the few people who were there, visiting with friends, lots of leaning and stirring nacho cheese and chili.

About 3pm, a gentleman came up to be served and of course, all of us on our side of the stand gave him some attention as we had a live body.  I guess it was my voice that gave me away (that has happened before) because we were all sporting oversized ball caps and lovely blue aprons, but this gentleman recognized me about the same time I recognized him.  Come to find out, this was someone who impacted my life greatly and not in a way I would have wished for.

I learned some amazing lessons from the situation but as some of my closest friends have wondered, why did I have to learn those lessons.  Now about 20 plus years later, I guess I’m starting to get it.  He said, “I know you” and I said, “I know who you are too”.  I’m not exactly sure when I said it, but I said something like, “I’m glad to see you are alive (or maybe I said not dead), because I have wondered that over the years.”  He gave me an interesting look to that and we exchanged lots of smiles and a few pleasantries and then he was gone back out of my life.

After he walked away, my friends said my comment was harsh but it was honest and true.  This gentleman would have been perfect living in a time like the wild west where there weren’t the civilities that make sense today.  He was my dance with fire and I did get burned but I survived and I see now that God did use my lack of wisdom at the time to grow me.

Having the interaction at such an unexpected time and place in my life but still so perfectly timed by God further drove His point home to me.  Ironically that morning, in my prayers I had personally addressed Satan (remembering Pastor Robert’s message from the night before), telling him he was not welcome in or near me and to F-off.  So I’m not sure who instigated this but I’m giving the glory of the outcome to God because I know He did make something good out of that life adventure.

Last night, I finished up the Healing is a Choice Bible study (by Stephen Arterburn) with some ladies whom have become heart close girlfriends and our leaders Rich and Kip had this be our study ending song, The Hurt and The Healer by MercyMe.  I have heard this many times but to see the words, was right on target for everything.

It’s the moment when humanity
Is overcome by majesty
When grace is ushered in for good
And all our scars are understood
When mercy takes it’s rightful place
And all these questions fade away
When out of the weakness we must bow
And hear You say “It’s over now”

I’m alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take this heart and breathe it back to life
I fall into your arms open wide
When The hurt and the healer collide”

WOW!  I don’t want to give this person more credit than is due for any part of me dying, because other experiences including losing my mom to cancer 14 years ago has helped little parts of me to die but these scars of mine are becoming more and more understood.

Thank you, Jesus – the words are not enough but you know where my heart is.

Thank you, Mom – for watching over me then and now and even when we didn’t speak for weeks because of this guy hurting me and me allowing the hurt because of my fear.  Are you smiling as big as I am?

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