Keep Your Eyes On the Groom

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 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

“Hallelujah!
    For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
 Let us rejoice and be glad
    and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready.
 Fine linen, bright and clean,
    was given her to wear.”  Revelations 19:6-8

I’ve never seen a bride who wasn’t radiant. Dress her in the raiments of her wedding, and she glows with a joy we all want to capture.

This past weekend, our youngest son married his bride. As I’ve done for years, instead of looking first at the bride, I watched the groom, our son, as she first appeared at the end of the aisle. If you’ve never done that, then try it next time. The bride will remain radiant, don’t worry, you won’t miss a thing. But the groom only catches his first glimpse once. Make sure you see it.

We’ve had three of our children marry, so far. With each one, I watched the groom first.

Our son Chris had a nervous smile on his face that turned to consternation as his bride took longer than expected to step out of the limo that delivered her to their garden wedding. The moment she alighted, his face transformed with relief, joy, and happiness. I’ve never seen his smile as big as I did that day.

When our daughter Terri approached her husband-to-be, I watched tears cloud his eyes. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her. When she came close enough, he couldn’t help himself. “Wow,” he whispered as he drank in the sight of her.

This past weekend Nathan stood stiffly at the front of the church, waiting. When they opened the doors to reveal his bride, he grinned, his gaze focused solely on her. I waited. This son is more reserved than the others and I sensed him holding back. Then I saw it, a great big gulp, his Adam’s apple wobbling with the emotion he couldn’t contain.

Each of these lovely daughters of mine caught a glimpse of what awaits us on the day when Christ receives his bride, the church. A wedding is the perfect time to get a hint of the joy we’ll experience on that day, when we are presented in fine linen, bright and clean. I can’t begin to imagine our joy. But I believe the joy on Christ’s face will outshine our joy like the sun blocks out the stars.

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Come To Serve, Not Be Served

© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

This week I flew to Orlando. No, I didn’t go in search of the fun most people think of when they think of Orlando, Florida: no Disney World, no Universal Studios.

Instead, I went to serve.

One of the truths of serving others is we gain more than if we’d gone in search of being served.

My class was fantastic. They were fun. They listened, engaged with me, and embraced the training I provided.

I haven’t had much opportunity to travel in the past two years. Being the guardian of two young children tends to rein in the ability to leave town for several days week after week.

My grandchildren’s counselor got excited when I told her I had been away for three days. “Did you read? Did you relax? Did you get some peace and quiet?”

Nope. I got less sleep than I would at home. I worked right up until bedtime preparing for the next day. I spent as much time as I could with the other trainers when I wasn’t in the classroom.

But I found joy in this.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

Jesus found times of peace and solitude, but he came to serve, not to be served. And in so doing, I believe he found joy. If he’d grumped around tired and worn out, no one would have followed him. Just a few verses later, Paul alludes to this:

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. Philippians 2:14-16

So serving is where it’s at.  I served and through that service I received:

  • Time with old friends
  • A new friend whom I hope will become a great friend
  • Conversations with people about what matters to them and seeing their eyes light up
  • Laughter, lots of it
  • Heartfelt thanks for helping people do their jobs well
  • The camaraderie of 45 trainees I will probably never see again, but who touched my life in a very positive way
  • A change of pace for a few days
  • Service from those hired to make sure I had everything I needed to do my job well, including:
    • Waiters who brought me non-dairy milk
    • Food servers who replenished the buffet just as I reached the empty dishes
    • Meeting event people who made sure I had everything I needed and did so without complaint
    • Trainers who jumped in with tips and tricks
    • Several assistant “trainers” who made sure my classroom kept moving forward
    • Managers (internal and external) who checked with me on time and needs
  • Safe trips there and back
  • A husband who stepped up to care for the grandchildren by himself while I was gone (I know how hard this is)

Where do you serve?

 

When Do You Take Time To Stop?

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

One of my favorite authors posted on Facebook the other day that she took a day off and did nothing but watch TV, catching up on shows and eating. This was unusual for her, and she asked if this was what normal people do every day.

Most of the ones who responded said they didn’t know because they never had time to stop. I was one of those people.

This morning, as I geared up for everything on my to do list, I realized that I should not feel proud of the fact I never stop. That is not good. It’s not good, either, for people to spend their days watching TV and eating.

We are commanded to stop, be still, know that He is God. This is not by accident. We need it.

God knew we needed to slow down and rest. Even he rested.

Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.  Genesis 2:3

Although people focus a lot on Jesus’ efforts to push forward and act during his time on earth, he did carve out  niches of time to rest.

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Matthew 14: 13-15

In the above passage, Jesus had just learned of the beheading of John the Baptist. He needed time to think, to draw near to God. He withdrew by boat to a solitary place. Have you ever gone out on a boat and drifted on the currents? It’s peaceful, quiet, a place to reflect and restore. When the people followed him, he tended to them, but by the end of the day, the disciples express concern over how to feed the people. Why? Jesus chose a remote place where he could be quiet, to be still, to be with the Father. There was no food.

The crowds took that time. Doesn’t that sound familiar? But, it doesn’t deter Jesus. See what happens after they feed the five thousand:

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.  After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Matthew 14:22-25

He still found the time to pray and be alone. It meant he missed his ride, but he made the choice to get what he needed most.

This is just one day in Christ’s life, but if you look, you’ll find many occurrences where he sought time to rest as his father commanded, to follow the psalmist’s admonition to be still and know.

This doesn’t mean sitting on the couch watching TV or playing with your tablet. It means to be still. To listen for the Spirit. To pray to the Lord. To feel the comfort of His power and presence.

I admit, this is hard for me. I’m pulled in so many directions, but I need to rejuvenate and be still. Even if it’s a few quiet moments with the bathroom door closed, I need to find it.

Where do you go to be still?