Wednesday, January 30, 2008

He is "There"...and Here.

Several years ago, I had the privilege of being one of the team leaders for a women's retreat our church was sponsoring. It was during an extremely difficult season of my life, but it was a commitment I began before that time hit. As the person directing and leading the dramas and tech, it was a hectic weekend, though I wouldn't have traded it for anything.

Everything went beyond well. The Lord showed His favor on the event. The speaker was amazing, and on the Sunday morning of the retreat, revival broke out. The retreat committee leaders served communion to the women attending. So while worship was happening, we stood in a line across the front, a bowl of bread and a cup of juice to dip the bread in. Women were on their knees, some were weeping, many raising both of their hands in complete surrender to the Lord. This is not a normal worship service at my church, so it was like nothing I'd ever experienced. As they would walk up to one of us to take the communion, we would say to them "His body was broken for you. His blood was shed for you. Eat and drink, Sister." So many were crying, a few would even ask for prayer or hold onto our shoulders.

About halfway through, I could not hold the tears back, I started to get really cold and tremble. I was overwhelmed with the brokenness in the room, enveloped in my own neediness as well. Lord, not now, please calm me down. I need to be strong for these women, I thought. I was begging Him to hold the tears back and "keep me together," at least until I wasn't holding a basket of bread in one hand and a juice cup in the other. My limbs began to get very weak, the tears streamed like an overflowing river down my face, and I was about ready to excuse myself.

Then a precious sister in Christ, one I do not know or even remember to this day, walked up to me, I thought to take communion. Instead, she slid in behind me and held up my arms. It freaked me out a little bit. It was awkward. Felt weird and embarrassing. Then she said, "Don't fight it. Just lean on me and let me hold you up until you're stronger." I did, and the streams of tears began to flow even heavier. As I stood there trembling, feeling more vulnerable than I'd ever felt in my life, I was humbled by the awesomeness of the Lord. Of course I wondered where my Kleenex angel was too, but then I got serious again. He did not answer my prayer in a way that I expected, but He was there, and in the form of a sister who listened to His prompting.

That's the power of God, my friends. He's "there" for us. "There" is anywhere we think He's absent. "There" is anywhere we need Him to be. If we will accept His ways, His methods for being there, then He will be. "There" is here. Right now. He's not "way up there." He is here.

Psalm 61:1-4:
"Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.

From the ends of the earth I call to You,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.

For You have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.

i long to dwell in Your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.


As I reflect on the verse "dwell in Your tent forever," I can't help but look back.

When I was a little girl, scared in my bed of what might walk through my door and hurt me any moment, I cried out, and He was there to comfort me. Remind me of His perfect love for me.

When I was a teenager, struggling to figure out life and love with no parents to guide me, He was there. He led others to teach me, and He also guided me through the Holy Spirit in me.

When I was in a season of giving care for others, struggling with loss and depression and grief, He was there. He fed me through His Word, He sent people to take care of our tangible needs. He literally reached into the deepest parts of me and gave me incomprehensible peace.

And those are the big things, the really hard things. He has also been there through the ordinary, the regular and the "smaller" burdens and needs of my life as well.

To and from one end of the earth and back, He will be there.

But sometimes I realize I've called on something else. I have to lay it down, repent. Then lean on HIm, press into HIm. Face the vulnerability, the unlovely. Let Him be there for me. Let Him LEAD ME to the Rock that is higher than I, and higher than anything I could replace Him with or escape from.

"There" is here, my friends. Right now. He's not "way up there." He is here.

"God IS our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

The LORD Almighty IS WITH US;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.


Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.

The LORD Almighty IS with us;
the God of Jacob IS our fortress.

(verses from Psalm 46, NIV)

In the Key of HE,