Wow, our Lord’s amazing love for us never ceases to lift me up and just blow me away! No matter what life smacks me in the face with, when I actually turn it over to Him and ask Him to fill me with His Holy Spirit, to guard me and to guide me He never fails me. I don’t always ask and that’s when I fail, but even then He is there with His arms outstretched in love. The same arms that stretched on a cross to die for me are also stretching out to envelope me in a love like none I can feel from any other source. Today as I set off for church and found the bad attitudes of some in my path bringing me down, I felt cheated and thought “but it’s Easter!” only this time I didn’t fail. I invited Him in . . . and He came! Church at 9am, the contemporary service and my first of two contrasting services I attend on Sundays, was inspiring beyond belief. I got there early enough to sit in “my pew” but chose not to. I sat on the other side and toward the back rather than toward the front and on the right . . . didn’t think about why. A stranger sat next to me and other strangers were all around me and initially I found myself thinking “twice a year Christians” but my heart took over and I thought of different things. Initially I thought “I wish I had this much trouble parking every Sunday.” Then I found myself thinking that while these may be once or a twice a year Christians, how awesome that our Lord placed something in their hearts to come and maybe just one heart will be changed, but won’t that be worth the added noise, the trials in parking, the crowds, the longer service . . . the answer is yes and honestly aside from needing to go home and get Mom to bring her back to the 11:15 more traditional service, and thus leaving church early and missing the end of the service, I didn’t mind any of those things. I really didn’t want to leave that sanctified space. I also know now that one heart was changed at the 9am service. My own heart was changed.
One of the greatest blessings in my life is my hour long weekly meeting with some Christian friends who get together to encourage each other to stay on His path for our lives and at those meetings we are always asked the question “when did you feel closest to Christ this week?” I find myself noticing Him all the more as a result of that weekly question. There was a time before my heart was His that I was hard put to come up with a single blessing or joy filled moment in a typical week, and now I find the hour long meeting on Tuesday night far too short because He blesses me so abundantly that I just want to share it all and find it hard to hold it in! I know what my answer to that question will be this coming week. It happened during one of the praise songs at the 9am . . . I closed my eyes because I needed to be alone with the Lord in that crowded room. I had my hands raised. These things that used to seem odd and uncomfortable are as natural as breathing for me now and I find it hard to restrain myself at the more conservative 11:15 service. I hardly find myself aware of my body in the earlier service though these days. I am free to love and serve the Lord! So, as I sang and praised and was lost in love with the Lord something unexpected happened and it took a moment to come down to earth and realize what it was. Suddenly there was a hand in mine. No, it was not the cute and handsome stranger sitting next to me. A man I never got to introduce myself to as I missed my chance. It was the infant in her Mom’s arms in front of me. She was perhaps 16 months old if that – walking but not talking. Her Mom held her and she was watching me. During that praise song, she slipped her tiny hand in mine and raised her tiny arms too. I wondered if she knew she was praising Jesus? She was so tiny and so young, did she know Him yet? My answer came during the next song. I had my eyes open and as soon as the music played, she lifted up her tiny arms just as I’d done during the song before and while she doesn’t yet talk, I just knew that tiny babe knows Jesus and knows His love. It’s something we can never deserve and never outgrow. I hope receiving that love and giving it back is always so natural for her.