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.

Selah"

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.

Selah

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.

Selah"
(verses from Psalm 46, NIV)

In the Key of HE,

17 friends shared a comment:

Denise said...

Amen, He is here with me, and I praise Him for His presence in my life. I love you my sweet friend.

Runner Mom said...

Oh, my! Laura Lee, this so spoke to me. As our women's ministry is preparing for a retreat, I am straining to hear His voice in making sure that what we plan is straight from Him. Thank you for your story and precious Words from Him.

Hugs,
Susan

Catrina Bradley said...

Thank you LauraLee. Amazing, and much needed right now.

Kristen @ {dancing} said...

Beautiful. He is there in my here...

Beth in NC said...

That is soooo precious (except for the "snot" part). ;o) Seriously, that is beautiful! Thank you for sharing this with us. It is hard to be that vulnerable sometimes - falling into the arms of a stranger.

I hope you'll come visit my blog. I have a contest going on ...

Many blessings to you!
Beth

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

There and here and every moment in between. How I pray for the wisdom and the pause to take him in, everywhere I go. Looking for him today...

~elaine

Joanne Sher said...

Oh, Laura - this so spoke to me. What an amazing God we serve. He is here ALWAYS

Laurie Ann said...

LauraLee, I am so deeply moved by your post. I have no words other than, "Keep singing, sister!"

Hi! I'm Grace said...

I'm greatly bless with this post. God bless your heart, Laura.
God is here with me all the time. :)

Yvonne said...

Beautiful, Laura! Thank you for sharing this part of your life.

When really learned the truth of the Amighty God "in me", it changed my life. I had been saved for years, and He had been in me since I was a child. But now my prayers changed, the way I saw other people changed, and I was more aware of Him working through me.

Susan said...

Oh wow, thanks for sharing these precious memories.

I've experienced this many times too. (especially at retreats, when you have poured your self out for others!)

Really I believe if we pressed in enough daily God would met us this powerfully each day!

This is His disire...

Hope you have a blessed weekend my friend♥

Betsy Markman said...

Wow, what a precious memory for you!

I too know the desire to "keep it together" in front of others, and thinking somehow that if I allow my emotions to be overcome by our Lord's goodness, that will be a detriment to others. Some sort of distraction. And I confess, there's a good bit of pride lurking under there, too.

Thank you for letting the Lord move you, snot streams and all, and for sharing that precious experience with us.

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

You are so right. You are such a blessing.

Peter Stone said...

Wonderful post, Laura, and a great reminder to run to Jesus, our Rock, and not to other things that appear to give us comfort.
I too had a difficult childhood, though nothing like what you endured, I'm sure. Yet in those times when the world was so black and crushingly heavy, my mother would encourage me to go to my room, sit at Jesus feet, and give the burden to Him. She said I always came bounding out again later, rejoicing that He took the burden and carried it for me.
How great is our God!

Patty Wysong said...

Oh, Laura.
This really spoke to me.
really.

Lori said...

Oh my goodness! Thank you for sharing from you heart. You can't imagine how that ministered to me. I know that the Lord led me to your site. Wish I could give you a hug.

Josh said...

I personally have found that some of my closest moments with the Lord have been uncomfortable and almost embarrassing moments. Often times God takes us out of our comfort zones so that we can step into new realms of blessings and draw even closer to Him.

Thank you for sharing your story. I can definitely relate to this.