Sunday, November 24, 2013

It Spoke To Me....

I haven't been to church since I moved to the Kansas City area...that's 16.5 years.


About 17 years ago, I chose to move away from organized religion. This was after I was very active in my former church...Youth Group Leader, Sunday School Teacher, Choir Member, Fellowship Social time hostess signer-upper, painter of walls, helper with communion... and on and on and on.

Eventually, it seemed like a whole lot of hypocrisy to me.  People saying they believed one way yet acting the opposite the very second they stepped out of those church doors.

For me, faith became less about sitting in a pew each week,

and became about living the word of God every moment of every day.

And I figured I didn't need to sit in a pew to do that.

Last night, I got a text from one of my best friends asking if I would go to church with her and another of our friends this morning.

I said, "sure".

I thought I was going for support her because today is a pretty tough day for her.

But....what I got was much more than I knew I would receive.

And since I got home, I've been sitting here thinking and trying to wrap my head and heart around the hour I spent in that church.

I visited a church called The Church of The Resurrection and their Pastor is Adam Hamilton. Everyone who goes there tells me how amazing he is an how much I would enjoy his messages.

Blah, blah, blah....whatever. LOL!!!

I was extremely skeptical.

Then came time for Pastor Hamilton to give his sermon.

More skepticism and I could feel an actual bristle on my part.

He did not "have me at hello" like in Jerry McGuire.  I was a continued skeptic as he began his sermon.

And then I decided to let myself personalize his message....

and take it in through my heart,

and not just my ears.

Now I'll push the pause button for a minute and just pat myself on the back because I wasn't ready to do that when I walked through those doors.

You hear so much about all of the preachers who are phonies and who say the right words....soak up the fame and glory, mean none of it, and are laughing heartily as they count the cash....

I told you I was skeptical.

I should have mentioned cynical as well. LOL!

It was the scripture that was shared this morning that allowed me to take a brick out of the wall...

And I'm not a big "scripture person"...I have read the bible, I have studied the bible, I have taught the bible...but I cannot randomly quote the bible and its verses from memory off the cuff.

The scripture was this piece from 1 Kings 19...

"....then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper."

That scripture is exactly what I have been saying for years since Braden's diagnosis and continued's what drives my faith despite the crapfast we are experiencing.

When I heard the scripture, I had an urge to stand up and shout out "AMEN!!!!"

I resisted because that would not have been appropriate in this setting... but oh how I had the urge!! :)

God is not in the wind, earthquake, or fire....He is the gentle whisper.

He is my gentle whisper.

People often ask me where I think my God is given our crapfest lives for the past 12 years since our daughter Miranda's death...

"If He is so wonderful, why doesn't He save us from all of this...why would He have allowed us to go through this....why doesn't He stop doing this to us?"

My response has always been that I don't believe God is doing this. For me, it just doesn't fit God's M.O. of the loving, kind, God who wants us to be all that we can possible be for ourselves and our fellow man.

But that is what I had been taught growing up in my church. "God gives his strongest battles to his strongest soldiers." "Only the good die young" "He is testing you and if you remain steadfast in your faith all will work out well for you"

I just don't believe God gives out crapfest events and I don't think we are rewarded with perfect endings because we are steadfast and continue to follow his word.

I think He blesses us with those things automatically and it's up to us to lean on His words and love in those times and to cling to our faith and our God to see us through whatever happens and however things end.

I don't believe he tests or punishes us by hurting us.

And I don't think God plans out all the bad stuff that happens to us to test us and our faith.

I trust Him completely to see us through the crapfest events.

No matter how bad things get...

For me, my faith is my refuge but it isn't that way for everyone and I respect that.

I don't push my beliefs on anyone, they are mine alone so please don't read this thinking I'm trying to convert anyone or get anyone to go to that church.

This entry is not an attempt at conversion.

It is me writing to make sense of it and share what I learned based off of my background experiences. That is what each of us do...we take in a message, mix it with our own experiences and then, sometimes, we have an "aha" moment as a result.

That happened to me today...I had an "aha" moment as a result of this scripture.

That scripture made me smile.

I smiled because it's my mantra.

He is the gentle whisper....not the wind, earthquake, or fire.

For me, He is peace and grace.

Pastor Hamilton then spoke about each of us finding a place that is our own "Mount Sinai"...a place where we can go to find God.

I smiled again...and then tears rolled down my face just as they are doing right now as I type this.

I have three Mount Sinai places...

The first and most wonderful is found in the eyes of my nine year old son.

Braden is a special soul....He knows God although he has autism and has no concept of what God is. I believe God speaks autism and He has shown me that so many times.

When I look into Braden's eyes, I see the fight of a tiger, the courage of an army, a peace I cannot describe, and....the love of God.

It is where I "feel" God.

My second Mount Sinai is the sky.

It is where I "see" my angels.  They send me signs like streams of sunshine, heart shaped clouds, and sundogs.

They bring me peace and happiness at just the right times.

They are my hugs and kisses from Heaven that I can't get on Earth any longer.

Thank you to my mom and my sweet daughter Miranda Grace for sending them. :)

And my third Mount Sinai is found during my prayers.  It is where I "hear" God and our angels.

We need to allow silence to speak to us.

In my prayers, I shut out the outside world and am quiet in my mind and heart...

and I allow silence to be filled with grace.

No, God doesn't actually verbally speak to me...but when I shut down the outside world and allow my mind to just focus on my prayers I can then listen...

I think God and our angel's voices are the intuition we have about things...the clarity...the feeling that "THIS" is the right thing.

And those messages of clarity and grace give me HOPE!

This is why I sometimes disappear from email, texting, social media, my blog, friends and family...

I need silence to allow myself to "hear".

Pastor Hamilton's message spoke to me today.

And I allowed myself to hear it.

I am grateful for that gift.

I am grateful for the opportunity to grow and become open to that growth.

And I'm grateful for the friends who suggested and invited me to go to church with them this morning.

My heart is more full...

My mind more clear....

My Hope even stronger...

And my faith is unbreakable.

The verdict is still out on this whole organized religion thing, Deliece Hofen, and whether we will ever be compatible again...

...BUT....messages that bring one peace are worth hearing....

There are a lot of places to find those kinds of messages....

a good book,

meaningful quotes,

a chat during wine with a friend,

during detours,

in the hearts of those we love the most,

and maybe even church. ;)

Time will tell on the last one.