Saturday, May 26, 2012

Thin Place

A thin place is where we’re especially close to God. It’s a place where the barrier between us and God is thinner, the obstacles fewer, than in most times and places on this earth. *

Every month, the Special Needs Ministry of Calgary’s Centre Street Church hosts The Outpouring, when people of all types of abilities gather to pour out their hearts in worship.
The Outpouring is a very thin place.
Now, The Outpouring is not simply a ministry to people with disabilities. It’s not a service where “normal people” include people with disabilities, talking to them about the love of God.
It is a place where many people share gifts – of music, leadership, speaking, visual arts – so people of all abilities can stand (or sit) shoulder-to-shoulder, loving and worshiping our wonderful, loving God.

During Jesus’ time on earth, He welcomed and cherished people who are poor, who are sick, people who are young or old. He gave a lot of attention to people who are vulnerable, people on the fringes of society.
So, when we gather for an Outpouring, I sense He is very close, moving among us, through us, between us. As we pour out our hearts in worship, He pours out His love onto us.

When I come away, I know I’ve been in His very presence.
If you live around Calgary, Alberta, I invite you to come and experience this thin place, near to the heart of God.

The Outpouring is held every third Friday evening of the month at Centre Street Church.
*Mary DeMuth, Thin Places: a memoir, Zondervan, 2010.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Without a Scolding

In my small city, there is only one drive-through automatic car wash.
I’m loyal to that car wash because:
(a) I don’t want to get wet at a do-it-myself wash, and
(b) this car wash is easy to drive into, and out of. I enter when it says Enter. I stop when it says Stop. I drive away when it says Go.

That matters because, once, just once, I tried a different kind.

To enter that other wash, I was to steer my tires, in a precise direction, onto a narrow pair of tracks, then put my car in neutral. The gracious, do-it-all-for-me tracks would then grab my tires and effortlessly guide my car through the swishy-sudsy experience.

It's a nice idea.

I took only a bit of trying to get my tires into the tracks, but it seemed impossible to turn them in exactly the right direction.

I steered this way and that. I put the car in neutral, tried to back up, tried to drive forward.

I kept trying but nothing worked. With a long and growing line-up behind me, I was stuck -and I didn’t know what to do.

Finally, the driver behind me came to my rescue. Standing outside my open window, he told me how to turn, turn again, and, once again, put the car in neutral.

Thanks to that man’s directions, I’m not still stuck in the entrance to that car wash.

But, oh, I paid a price for his help.

He didn’t call me names. He never swore. He didn’t threaten me. He didn’t even raise his voice...much.

But with his tone, he went up-one-side-of-me-and-down-the-other. He made it absolutely, unequivocally, 100% clear that he thought me extremely stupid. Without a single insulting word, he left me no doubt about his opinion of my worthiness and capability.

When I drove out and away from the car wash that day, I did not wave back to the man in thanks, but I did send a prayer of thanks heavenward.

I thanked God for His promise in the book of James, where it says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously, without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

I have tested that promise many times, and I've found it to be true.

When my life is so stuck I don’t know where to turn or how to move forward, I can – and should – ask God for His help and wisdom.

And when I ask, He gives the wisdom I need. Best of all, He gives it without scolding.

He tells me the direction to take, shows me how to step forward... and never ever tells me I’m stupid for needing help.

I might be wayyy too slow in remembering to ask Him for wisdom, but He always gives it as soon as I ask.

I might give myself a sound scolding for getting into yet another situation, but He never heaps His own scolding on top of it.

He just wants me to go to Him for help, and He's happy to help me when I do.

He extends the same promise to you.

You can count on it.