29 May, 2012

The First Time

♫♬ The first time ever I saw your face….
I thought the sun rose in your eyes…
And the moon and the stars were gifts you gave to the dark and the endless skies♫♬

In 1972, Roberta Flack sang a new song that resonates in my heart today.  Listen to the music before you read further. 

Transitioning to a new place in life?  New job? New city? New husband or new wife? New baby?  How about an active household that now is empty?  Transitioning makes me remember old times even as I look to the new.  It’s as though I’m looking back in order to fully see what’s ahead.  I’ve often thought that my difficulty with transition was that I was so uncomfortable with change.  But this month as I’ve begun to transition to an empty-nest the looking back has brought me back to my first love.

Do you remember the first time you saw your love’s face?  Do you remember the first glimpse across a crowded room and catching his eye? Do you remember the first time you saw your newborn baby’s face?  The first time ever I saw your face….I thought the sun rose in your eyes…As our daughter leaves for college, the transition becomes real and our hearts begin to ache.  But what could have been days of sadness and tears have been met by the glimpse of Another.  The first time ever I saw His face, I knew the sun rose in His eyes...

This is my interpretation of a familiar story:
The woman had been called out.  She had merely been walking through the room hoping to go unnoticed and into worship.  She drew unwanted attention as her pain was evident to all.  But she believed in the God who redeems and the God who makes life new.  The new teacher called out to her and told her to come forward.  The woman wanted to stand frozen in her place but once she sensed His look, once she saw His face she moved forward.  Compelled.  She was hurting both physically, emotionally and spiritually.  ‘What’s next’, she wondered.  ‘What will I do now?  Who will have me?  What’s my purpose?

The Teacher spoke words she did not understand and the crowd slowly began to move away.  No one had touched her or harmed her.  She merely stood straight up.  Then suddenly, He was there looking right into her, through her. 

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years.  She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Luke 13:10-12.

I believe the woman felt His eyes knew her in every way.  She too felt the first time ever I saw His face my life changed.  My going out changed.  My purpose changed.

So as we transition in our own ways this summer, may we see His eyes looking into us and through us.  May we recall the first time ever we saw His face and draw from Him that strength.  His strength of grace, mercy, forgiveness and love – those mighty ways of Him living in us that we can offer to the world.

02 May, 2012

As We Go

The Tea Party girls meet every week.  We sit at a small table, in a small apartment and enjoy hot tea, fruit, dessert and each other.  The china dishes are lovely and from a bygone era.  They are mismatched and lovely because of their uniqueness.  The tea party a time of sharing, of laughter, talk of husbands, talk of Jesus, talk of babies…simply put just talk and togetherness.  This week, one of the young girls, who is expecting her first baby, shared with joy that her mother will be arriving soon for the birth of the baby.  It was a day of celebration!

As I drove home, I remembered another Tea Party when my daughter was just a little girl.  She had a little table and a Tea set.  Often, the people my daughter invited to her Tea parties were her brother, “Puppy” (her beloved stuffed animal) and me.  Of course, Brother was never there for long!  I remember how she delighted in the pouring of tea and the conversation with Puppy.  Sweet memories.  Then in a flash she would announce, “The tea party is over.  Bye Mama”.  I would smile and leave her but honestly was glad the tea party was over so I could get on with my day….

...This month, my daughter graduates from high school and will move away to college, twelve hours away.  I find myself longing for more minutes with her at her tea party table.  This time I would be in no hurry to leave and get on with my day...But then… I heard His voice…Follow Me.
Then [Jesus] he said to him, “Follow me!”Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them.
When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”  John 21:19-21
I begin to think about the Tea party girls I meet with weekly.  Their homes are across the world, literally, in China.  The travel time from their homes to Tuscaloosa, Alabama is at least a 20-hour journey and involves many documents and time zones.  It is a difficult journey.  The Tea party girls are all married and have come to America with their husbands.  These girls left everything they knew to come to this new world.  They left their comforts, their language, and their way-of-life.  They each had families who hold them dear but let them go.  They each have moms who cried as they left China.  But here, in little Tuscaloosa, maybe just maybe they are learning and growing.  Certainly they are learning about the new culture and making new American friends.  But they are also learning about a God, a Saviour many have never met.  God is blessing their leaving to learn of Him.

So, perhaps it is in the going that we learn.  I trust that as my girl goes…she will begin to learn anew.  As she goes, Jesus will be teaching her new things and she will grow and flourish.  Isn’t that my dream for her?   And as I watch her go, the miracle will be that Jesus goes with her and He stays with me.  The miracle is that He is whispering to both of us ‘Follow Me’.  

Let us each hear that call of comfort from Him.  Whatever your heartache today, whatever your joy, the truth He speaks is…Follow Me.

Blog Archive