Testify is a buzz word in the sect of Christianity I’ve come from. Testify, testament, testimony.. all words from the same root. As such, like many words from the same subculture, give me a slightly cringe-y feeling. Not to offend or dismiss the decade I spent in evangelistic charismatic churches. I wouldn’t even say I was burned. Not in the least. I just needed something different – a different avenue through which to practice my faith.
I still testify, just not in the ‘traditional’ or ‘pentecostal’ sense of the word. I testify when I go out in nature, when I breathe in aromas of a delicious meal or hearty wine. I testify when I create community among friends. I testify when I witness the miracle of sunrises and sunsets. I think there are different ways to testify, and all can be pleasing to God and welcoming to people.
We come to the word celebrate again. I see that this is a possible theme for Lent. With celebration usually comes the word “Alleluia” which is traditionally not sung or spoken all of Lent until Easter. Lent is a time of penance, reconciliation, somber reflection, inwardness. At least for me. Come Easter morning we will celebrate and testify to the resurrection of Jesus.
He will be lifted (see what I did there?) – banners will be raised. We’ll remember the now-dry palm fronds that graced his path in Jerusalem. Can you imagine – the King of kings and the Lord of lords riding into a holy city, the holy city, on a donkey? But he does. And a week later he’s lifted onto the cross to die a humiliating death – how could a professed king ever be killed, let alone in such a horrible and dehumanizing manner? But he is. Every year the story amazes me. Every year the power of Lent overcomes me and my soul heals and reconciles itself to God a little more.
Today I just had a feeling that it was going to be a weird day, a sign. Usually when I experience this, I do in fact have a weird day. I waited for a call for school to be cancelled due to the impending Nor’easter bound for the East Coast. No call came. Some schools cancelled. During our faculty meeting this morning, our admin announced kids would be released early, which usually means we would be, too.
It took me two hours to get home when it usually takes me 23 minutes, give or take. The free hours I had in my afternoon soon dwindled down to just minutes. It took my husband an hour to get home when it usually takes him 10 minutes. Since we got home, power’s been flickering on and off. Our sump pump somehow became dislodged from the hole it sits in in the crawl space.
Despite all these signs and then events of a day gone weird, I’ve been strangely calm. This is highly uncharacteristic for me. Even on my two-hour journey home, I only got angry once when some jerk cut me off. (Just once… I’m improving…). Even when the sump pump was askew and not doing its job, though my mind went to the worst case scenario of “Oh shit we’re gonna spend our Friday night, possibly weekend, and hundreds of dollars to get this fixed,” I stayed calm and somehow my lizard brain didn’t get to see the light of day.
I’m not sure what’s happening. It could be maturity, it could be that my broken heart is healing therefore so is the rest of me, it could be the good amount of savings we have in the bank, it could be God’s peace, it could be the zen following me off the yoga mat. But slowly I’m evolving into the person I had wanted to be when I was freaking out. During the years my heart was torn into pieces month after month. During all the lonely months when my husband was literally halfway around the world.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.
There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:1-14 NASB
The best way to crawl out of a pit of depression and doubt is to remember what God has done for you. Even if you’re not 100% sure he’s in the day-to-day goings on, there have to be clear marks that he’s done something good in your life. Not that he’s cause something to cause you good, but that he’s actually personally done the good thing.
You can’t always think on the things he might do in your life, because those things have yet to be and let’s be honest.. Most of the time hindsight shows us that they’re not the things we thought they’d be anyway.
Don’t strain to think of something.. Whatever comes first to your mind is the thing he’s done or the promise he’s kept. It’s salient for a reason.. It’s obvious exactly for when you need to remember in order to keep going.
WordPress says ‘share your story here’ on the mobile app when you go to begin a post. Here goes, with a challenge to myself to include all the words for days I’ve missed.
I was super zealous after I became a Christian when I was 13. I had a pretty radical experience and everyone had to know about it. However, I was immature as most teenagers are from time to time and took my zeal too far. I openly condemned a few family members of sins. I extricated all evidence of ‘secular’ music from my life in the form of taking scissors to most of my CDs. This zeal was tempered little by little as I got older but I still found myself inwardly judging people for behavior that I believed was wrong in God’s sight. Often I judged before I loved. Heck, why is this in the past tense? I still do this.
I think now I’m able to celebrate more the things that God has done. I’m able to celebrate people more and this my friends is the real win here. I love people for people, not because it’s something God told me to do. I remember when I was 14 praying for God to give me a heart for the lost because I truly felt apathetic towards those who didn’t claim the same faith.
Since then almost 20 years later (good grief) I would say I have a heart for people in general, no agenda or ulterior motive. Just a plain curiosity to learn more about their life with the hope of an opportunity to share mine.
I would not say I’m consumed with the zeal about the things of God now. I’m not consumed with thoughts of whether I’m good enough or clean hearted enough. I’ve accepted who I am, all faults included. And I know the places I can still become more like Christ.
I wonder if God’s glory that resides in heaven is a bright light. That’s how I always imagine it when I read the word glory in the Bible.
A catch phrase I remember hearing for the decade plus we attended charismatic churches was something something something for God’s glory.
If doing something for God’s glory means that heaven opens up and a dove comes down and says well done, then I think I want to be involved in that.
It’s not something people like talking about. Well, not real suffering anyway. We joke and say we have first world problems, but our voices echo what’s in our hearts so maybe we’ve I internalized our prim, proper, and privileged suffering.
We all have one thing in common : the human condition. This is something an English teacher my junior year taught me… And each year that passes I understand it more, if only from first hand as well as an observer’s experience.
I’m reading another book about death, called Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death. Even in 2018 it amazes me how little Americans talk about this complex something that ails every single human and living thing on the planet.
Naturally when I think of the word life I also think about death. We’ve recently taken a more objective perspective on death by writing our wills and advanced directives. We’ve discussed what our wishes are and asked close family members to serve as executor of our estate. It seems a little strange to be not even 32 yet and have these things in place, but it’s important.
So then as I think about death my thoughts are again catapulted into thinking about life. My life. How I want to live it. The legacy I want to leave behind, especially now that it won’t be a legacy of children and grandchildren.
If my family’s genes are any indication, I could very well live to see an entire century. The thought scares me, to be honest. But the time is now to think about what the next potentially 70 years could bring (I’m not kidding about 70 years.. My Nana is pushing 102).
Lose your life. Gain your life in Christ. The full meaning of that verse has always alluded me. I get that my life must be surrendered to Christ, but what does that look like? Really? In my day to day life?
It’s definitely something to pray about especially in this season of somber reflection. I think I will start with my attitudes, which are definitely not in tune with Christ on a daily basis. However, I am a reflective person by nature and that can serve me well in this endeavor. I also have good people around me who can reflect back some of what I exude.
So here’s to reflecting on those attitudes that may not help me become more like Christ.
1 Peter 3:18-22
All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.
Psalms 25:10 NASB
This verse from the week’s readings are a good reminder to me. I have followed virtually my whole life and sometimes I wonder if I’ve been led off the path, or of the Person leading has let go and has let me wander. However, this verse shows me that the path will lead to kindness and truth.
I’ve been on a quest for truth, of myself and of God. In general it’s been a tough experience, annoying and frustrating and saddening at times. But in the journey I am finding truth and it is as it’s said… The truth will set you free.