Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I will be your witness...

I accomplished something today which was incredibly hard for me. I killed a spider -- and not just any spider mind you.... a HUGE spider (well, I thought it was huge). I was cleaning, and as I made my rounds in the living room I picked up a pillow and was immediately surprised by a spider that had been perfectly content hiding in the comforts of a chair. He ran, and so did I...

As the spider took off for a place of refuge, the couch being the closest hiding place, I screamed and did a dance in the opposite direction. But as I made a dash towards the kitchen it occurred to me that I was the only one home, and that if I didn't do something about this unwelcome visitor he was going to hide in my couch.
Suddenly the thought of spending the evening cozied up on the couch didn't sound very appealing!

And so with determination, I gathered up all my courage -- and about 50 of the closest tissues -- and headed for the spider. I grabbed, and he swerved; I screamed and I swear he mocked me. And then, just seconds before he dove under my couch... I squished him! Victorious! I did it! I was pleased.

But as I disposed of the spider, along with the hoard of tissues used to kill him, I was surprised to find myself feeling sad. No one had been there to witness my victory. No one had been there to cheer me on and congratulate me on accomplishing something that I wouldn't normally dare to do. While it wasn't a life altering event by any means, it was important to me none-the-less, and I had no one to share it with at that moment.

I was then reminded of the movie, "Shall We Dance?," and the moving speech Susan Sarandon's character gives about marriage. I love the way she describes what a marriage is: "There's a billion people on the planet, I mean what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything...the good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mondane things...all of it, all the time, every day. You're saying... 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed, because I will be your witness.'" What a beautiful description of the marriage relationship and the joys of having someone to share in the little and big things that happen to you!

With that reminder in my mind, I headed for the phone and called the one person I knew would be eager to share my victory. He is my witness, and he was -- as I knew he would be -- thrilled with my accomplishment. He rejoices with me in the little things, and together we are a witness to each other's lives. Whether it be spiders or sermons, dishes washed or graduations, I have a witness and I am a witness. I can think of nothing sweeter.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I Stink!

I learned something new on Saturday night – something unexpected and humbling. I stink. Yes, I stink.

On Saturday night I found myself sitting in the chapel at UGM (Union Gospel Mission). I was there to support and observe as my husband and a group of youth from our church led worship before the evening meal was served to the area’s homeless. I came prepared to bless and encourage the men and women who walked through the door, but was unprepared to BE the one who was ministered to.

As men and women filed in to the chapel I quickly became aware of their stench, and I struggled to cope with the aromas assailing my nostrils while smiling and being as “welcoming” as possible. The obvious presence of alcohol, smoke, body odor and other unidentifiable scents filled my head and overwhelmed me, but I plastered on my smile and did my “Christian duty” regardless… all the while thinking in my head "they stink!"

As the service began and the songs of praise and worship filled the chapel, I found a seat towards the back and surveyed the room. They were quiet, some listening, others reading a newspaper or staring blanking at the walls. Men and women, young and old, they had come not for God but for food. I was struck in that moment at how out of place I must have seemed to these people. Dressed comfortably in clothes that were clean, hair well-kept and face washed, I sat and sang with the worship band songs of God’s love and grace… and it hit me. They’re not the ones who stink. I am.

Would I have given these people a second glance if I’d passed them on the street? Was not my thoughts and disgust about their stench more odorous than their uncleanliness? And what about the “whys” of why we were there? Why were we there and even taking pictures of the event, if not to go back to the comfort of our own clean church and report on what we did for God?

It struck me in that moment just how distasteful and unclean my heart and attitude was at that moment in God’s eyes. These were HIS people; the people Jesus ate and communed with when He was on this earth. And I was – in that moment - just as lost and unclean and in need of a Saviour as they were. I was no better than them! If anything, my own stench was offending them AND God.

I spent the rest of our time there being the one who was ministered to. I took more time that night to shake hands with, talk with, and silently pray for these people whom God loved. And after I was overwhelmed by the beauty of their aroma to God, it was with a heavy heart and reality of my own stench that I went home more thankful for God’s love and grace -- a grace I clearly didn’t deserve -- than ever before.

Just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me. And that thou bidst me come to Thee, O Lamb of God I come. Just as I am, poor, wretched and blind; sight, riches, healing of the mind. Yet all I need in Thee to find, O Lamb of God I come. I come. ~Charlotte Elliot, 1789-1871

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Shakespeare ON Love

Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments. Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove: O no! it is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken. It is the star to every wandering bark, whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle's compass come. Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

~William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116