Some of you may have heard me tell this story before, if you have bear with me. It has been one that has been on my heart for the last few days.J
I grew up technically in a small Ohio town, but really, my mom and dad’s house is in between the town and an even smaller blurb on a map. I think the technical definition of Waldo, Ohio is a village it may be a township. Waldo, Ohio is every bit what the image of a small town: two traffic lights, two churches, a few bars (one well known for its fried bologna sandwiches), a fireman’s festival every year, an ice cream stand, and two churches. Being that the town is so small the two churches used to get together on occasions for various functions. I grew up in the Lutheran one, and caddy cornered to it was a Methodist church.
One fall evening, I would guess it would have been my senior year of High School; I drove over to the Methodist church for baton twirling lessons. I was a twirler for a few years at school and the woman I took lessons from was using the basement of the Methodist church for space. That evening I arrived early, and because I was familiar with the building, I stuck my head into the sanctuary. I have such a soft spot for older constructed churches. There is something about them. They always have a way to bring me back to the place spiritually where I first learned His name. As I glanced in the sanctuary, the picture was so beautiful. The moon was shining through the stained glass windows leaving color rays dancing on the aisle way. The altar looked so inviting. Glancing at my watch, I saw I still had time before my lesson, and like a gossamer spiritual string, I felt led to kneel down in the middle of the dancing reflections of stained glass windows and consecrate my life again to the Lord. I remember crying in that small Methodist church, declaring that I just wanted to serve Him. That I just wanted to live my life and do whatever it takes to bring Him glory. I wanted to make Him proud, and though the call of God on my life seemed so bigger than myself, I just wanted to be able to look at Him in the eyes one day and know I’d done all I could for Him. The presence of God was all over me that night. The tears flowed freely down my face, and I meant what I said. Reluctantly I found my way to the basement, but the memory of that night has always stayed with me.
There have been several times in my life where things have seemed to get so complicated. Sometimes, just like I did that night I can feel a tug at my heart. No matter where I’ve been physically spiritually I find myself going back to kneeling in the middle of a moonlight Methodist church crying out my love for the Lord.
Sometimes whether we mean to or not, situations and concerns can complicate our walk with the Lord. However, we must constantly try to remember what and why we are where we are. Even sometimes in ministry, slowly and gradually it can be as if we are trying to do the work of the ministry before serving and loving the Lord. The shift can sometimes be subtle.
In Exodus 20:3 God gives the 10 commandments. The first one is that you should not have any other gods before Him. So often times we think that we do not because we are not worshipping Buddha or anything like that. Nevertheless, so many times, things can slowly become a “god” to you, and you are worshipping it more than God. Sometimes your family, your friends, the ministry He has called you to, they all can become something that you are fixing your mind on more than Him. We had a Lutheran intern some years ago and I will always remember hearing about a sermon he preached. He called it “Hail to the Lawn gods.” In which he talked about people even putting their lawn before God because that is where they spent all their time.
Matthew 6:33 (New King James Version) says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” I love the way this scripture is worded in The Message Bible, “30-33"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
God wants us to seek Him first with our whole heart. Have you ever been around someone who you can tell is merely telling you what you want them to tell you, and not really meaning it? It’s frustrating and annoying. You might think that you are fooling everyone by going through the motions. But you can’t fool God. I can say all these things because we’ve all, myself included found ourselves in this place.
There are so many fresh things that God wants to do to His children in these days, but in your heart are you really still seeking Him first or just telling Him you are? What is first in your life? Is it Him or something else? It’s time to be honest with yourselves, and honest to God. It’s time to find yourself in that place of consecration where you get down on your knees before God, and say God I want you more than anything and I just want to serve you. Find yourselves pulled as if attached to that gossamer cord. It’s the Holy Spirit wooing you today to leave the chaos, confusion, and complication. Make it simple again today with you and God. It’s surrendering your life to Him, and telling Him you love Him from your heart.