The Chair

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“For the next 3 hours, this is a quiet campground. You are to find a place alone and meet with God. Here is your devotional guide for this time. Remember, across this whole camp it is silent.” As I listened to the words of the Inter Varsity camp leader, I thought, what am I going to do for 3 hours? We all stood up and left our separate ways. I wondered around for about 10 minutes, watching as everyone dispersed in their own direction seemingly knowing where to go and what to do. Finally, I turned to my left and saw a little dock on the small lake that was unoccupied and away from others who might notice my uneasiness. I walked out, sat on the rough wood, and pulled out the contents of my backpack. Taking a deep breath, I exhaled and said very, very quietly, “Okay God, I’m here!”

I was 19 years old, a hardcore liberal New Englander, sitting on the edge of a tiny lake on the western bank of Michigan. Having just finished my first year of college in a small town in Ohio, my life was definitely changed. Leaving for college, I sought to find myself. Instead, I found my future husband, my best friend, and most importantly my Jesus. Joining our campus InterVarsity group brought me to this Chapter Camp Week and to silence.

I opened the devotional and my bible to Psalm 23. “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters” (vs 1-2). What? “He leads me besides quiet waters.” I read it over and over, as I looked up at the quiet water. How did you know God? Tears flooded down my cheeks. The 3 hours flew by. Over the course of that week, with an hour of quiet each morning, I laid before God my high school years of shame. As a terribly confused teenager, I made numerous mistakes that damaged myself worth and embarrassed my parents. However, one week of alone time with God, healed and transformed me, as I realized that there is nothing more precious than sitting at God’s feet.

In 20 years, a lot has changed. In fact, I feel old just writing that. Marriage, a full-time job as a teacher, and 3 kids later, those moments by the lake are a mere memory. The quiet alone time, in nature with the Creator, is a lustful memory of my first love.

For years, I had a chair in my living room. My quiet time chair. I’d wake up before my husband and sit. However, as time grew, the quiet chair was filled with the activity of a growing family, and I was too busy and tired to get up early and sit. It turned into the family chair, the tv chair, the dog’s bed… I needed a new spot and a fresh change. I needed a place to draw near at any time of the day. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

Where amongst the insanity of 3 kids, a dog, a lovingly loud husband, a full-time job, and church ministries, could I “Be still and know that He is God.” (Psalm 46:10). I’d try sitting on our deck, but that was only good in the spring and fall. I tried my bed, but most moms know how that went, I’d fall asleep. Finally, in the midst of the grief of losing my grandma, I brought her old chair, lamp, and tiny side table home. I moved some furniture around in my bedroom and found a corner, that I did not think would work before. The chair, lamp, and table fit perfectly. Adding a basket for books, and I found my quiet waters again.

As life changes, we may grow weary, but God is still with us. We need to pursue Him, and sometimes that means looking around and saying very practically, “ok God, where can we have our special time now?” I encourage you to find your chair or your spot. Where can you sit and seek God? And then, let the family know, when I’m in my spot, I am praying.

As I sat down today, my almost 10 year-old was bouncing around. I said to him really quietly, what is mommy doing, “You’re in your chair,” and he sweetly closed the door.

God’s word says He is always with us, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20 NLT) “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)  So, where do you meet Him? Where it is just you and God? Where there is no other focus but God’s word? I can tell you, that I pray to God in the car. I worship driving to work. I listen to podcasts working out. I know God is with me in all those moments.  But, my alone time is in my chair; it is my quiet waters. My chair is where is receive rest, peace, strength, and comfort from God. It’s where I meet my Father and receive His love and encouragement.

Find your chair.

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Good Friday

Good Friday is a day where the name just does not seem make sense. As Christians, we mark the day with a recount of what Jesus’s sacrifice and death:

The soldiers took Jesus into the palace … They dressed him up in purple and put a crown plaited from a thornbush on his head. Then they began their mockery: “Bravo, King of the Jews!” They banged on his head with a club, spit on him, and knelt down in mock worship… Then they marched out to nail him to the cross. (Mark 15:16-20, MSG)

We know Jesus was flesh and blood, he felt pain and hurt feelings, just like we do. He even showed us through prayer.

“My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” …“Abba, Father,”[g] he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Mark 14:34-36, NLT)

Yet, despite it all, the perfect sinless man, endured, persecution, abuse, mocking, all to lead up to His death on what we call Good Friday. Why? Because, I am messed up and you are messed up. That hurts.

I can’t help but think, I don’t deserve… I certainly don’t deserve the sacrifice Jesus made for me. To be perfectly honest, I feel guilty that Jesus had to die, and often wonder, would I actually pay the price for someone else’s sin. I like to say I would, but confronted with it, how would I act?

Thus, Good Friday to me, is a day mixed with emotional turmoil. As I ponder feelings of inadequacy, I imagine Jesus carrying His cross down the dusty street, blood dripping from his head, beaten beyond recognition. I imagine, His humble acceptance of the will placed on His life. I imagine, each nail banging His hands and feet to the cross. I imagine, Mary watching her son die.     And, just when emotions hit their maximum overload,

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from the top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said. ‘Surely this man was the Son of God’” (Mark 15:37-39)

Can you imagine the high priest’s surprise when the veil was torn, and he didn’t die? Just like that, the separation between God and man was dissolved. Just like that my emotional turmoil becomes joyous. The prophesy fulfilled.

Out of that terrible travail of soul,
he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it.
Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
will make many “righteous ones,”
as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly—
the best of everything, the highest honors—
Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch,
because he embraced the company of the lowest.
He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,
he took up the cause of all the black sheep. (Isaiah 53:11-12, MSG)

And the joy of salvation is real. The celebration of Good Friday is real. I am left with the overwhelming feeling of love and gratitude.

Good Friday, is really a Good day! Easter is right around the corner, and Jesus is alive!

Who else feels the same about Good Friday?