After I mentioned the sermon that I need to have running like a constant tape recording in my brain, I figured it was only appropriate that I link to it here so that you can all listen to it. Try this link. If that doesn't work (read: if I gave you the wrong link because I'm a computer dunce), then try this link and download May 18th's sermon entitled "The Best Long Weekend Offer You'll Ever Get".
What I thought was remarkable about the sermon was that it didn't end where I thought it might. Now don't get me wrong: I grew up in the church. I've heard the gospel too many times to count. I "know" the answers, and yet, somehow, they haven't stuck. I"ve talked about this before right? Anyway, listen to the sermon, find the link for the sermon notes if you want them, and think about me from Isaiah 1:2 all the way to verse 17. That is pretty much where I live. Especially the way Mike talked about those people with that guilt. (I still need to go back online and listen to his sermon on overactive guilty consciences from March 9, which ironically is my sister's birthday...talk about my guilt!....that has my name written all over it.) Somehow the rest promised in verse 18 has eluded me all these years. This would appear to be the root of pretty much all my issues.
Anyway, enough psycho-analysis. This is supposed to be a funny blog right!? Okay so this is funny. That same morning I was on the worship team and I was supposed to be, you know, singing. Which is painfully hard to do when a) you are crying like someone just poked you in the eye and b) you are not sure you can sing the words of the song because you feel like a big fat hypocrite, unsure of your own sincerity, and sure that the lightening bolt is on its way from Heaven for daring to pray such a line of song when in your heart you are saying, "...except" or "....yes that, but not this."
Now that was too abstract (and not nearly as funny as I'd hoped). Here is a concrete example. The song lyrics are in black. My innermost thoughts are in blue:
Father, let me dedicate, all this life to Thee or at least a very large chunk of it
In whatever worldly state Thou would have me be whatever state? well, I do have my preferences
Not from sorrow, pain, or care freedom dare I claim wow. Could I really not ask for freedom from my sorrow if it came again?
This alone shall be my prayer, glorify Thy name. Just don't glorify your name in any way that will harm my children.
So the *really great part* about being on the worship team is that you get to come 2 hours before church starts to warm up and practice etc. And then of course there was the practice on Saturday morning. Plus also all the practice in the car and at home by CD that I was doing to find my harmonies. And we do have 2 services on Sunday morning. All together I think I sang this song 452 times over the weekend. That is a lot of time for the Lord to bang a girl over the head and cut into her heart with His Word.
By the end of Sunday morning I had stopped arguing with the Lord directly and started to just say nothing (except of course for snurping and sniffling everytime we got to that song). I mean, this is surely the right attitude to have: Lord I will give you every part of me, just like you held nothing back from me on the cross. I totally get that. But I look around at my life and at others around me (I know I'm not supposed to judge) and I wonder how many of us actually do this? I don't. Maybe I used to. Maybe I never truly have. How do I set aside the fear to do what I want here? I really WANT to say WHATEVER state, HOWEVER you choose, WHEREVER you lead, WHENEVER you want...
Oh it was so much easier when I was young and stupid (as opposed to old and stubborn). Apparently child-like faith dries up when you hit 32 (or maybe it was baby number 7). Either way, I am torn between what I want to do (follow the Lord like a sold out, burn the bridges behind me, squeeze through the narrow gate and seek first his kingdom kind of gal) and what I feel I need to do to survive (make my own decisions and choose my own path because I am all *wise* and such).
So I stood there, crying like I had just cut a big old pan full of onions trying to sing these words with faith: Yes Lord whatever, whenver, however, wherever.... oh but it was hard. What struck me though as I was struggling with surrender (again and again and again) was verse 2:
Can a child presume to choose where or how to live? oh you know I'm trying to presume, Lord
Can a Father's Love refuse all the best to give? Do you really intend the best for me? Do you really love me and take into consideration my weakness and fraility and uselessness? Will you really prepare my heart to want what you want and to agree with you that what you think is best really is?
Let my glad heart, while it sings, Thee in all proclaim I do say that: that all I can rejoice about is in You
And, whate'er the future brings, glorify Thy name. Whate'er? oh yes Lord. Glorify your name. I'm coming around.
There is more to say here, but I think I will stop. Suffice it to say that I am working on surrender. All those tears were not wasted. Each one of them contains a part of my flesh that is slowly being worn away to allow me to be led by the Spirit again. This comes with a flavour of fear I have not tasted in a long time. I do believe. Help my unbelief.