Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Quick Stop

"Think I'll just run in to..."You fill in the blank. Having lived all of my life in the South, I'm not sure if this is a phrase we use only around these parts. Today, as I ran into a home improvement store to pick up a few hooks, I realized way too much of my time is spent running. I wish I could tell you my running is the healthy kind involving athletic shoes and clothes that have armour in their name. My running involves too many steps for the payoff.

Like half of the nation, the summer here has been less than refreshing. The month of July hasn't just entertained high temperatures, it offered them a package deal if they booked a month's stay. How amazing that we're thankful for a high of 90 degrees. And humidity here feels like melted molasses. We're all wearing the lightest cotton garments we can legally get away with, rushing into air-conditioning and trying to stay sweet like our tea instead of edgy. I did, however, post a comment on Facebook saying it's so hot my dog is begging to be potty trained.

This morning, I took the dog the groomer. That was all I had on my to-do list and I was content with that. After two days of running all over town, from morning until sunset, I was looking forward to a day at home. Slow-paced, quiet and most of all, cool. But then, that pesky phrase invaded my serenity. "Think I'll just run in to..."

"Running into" isn't a simple process. It involves, lowering the windows of the car just enough for air-flow, but not enough for a coat hanger to snake toward the lock. (Although who would spend that much effort in this heat?)  Next come the windshield shades. As I twist them open being sure to avoid maiming, I wrestle them under sun visors and behind the rear view mirror. Make sure I have my cell phone. Make sure I have my regular glasses to switch with my sun glasses once inside. And, most importantly, make sure I have the keys before hitting the lock button on the door and slamming it. This last step could be repeated like an obsessive maniac. No husband wants to come unlock the car in this weather. Of course, when returning from the store, all of these steps are reversed and repeated.

What ever happened to home delivery? The 1950's were full of delivery men and I remember a few entering our kitchen door. Dairy products were placed in the fridge after the milkman checked to see what we were out of. The dry cleaning was picked up and hung in the hall coat closet. The Fuller Brush Man showed us new and improved cleaning products. Big jugs of bottled water were delivered and replaced on a tilting stand. Department stores would freely deliver any purchases my mother made. Pharmacies brought drugs and tissues. Groceries would even deliver for a small charge. And, as kids, our favorite was the Charlie Chip man who exchanged large cans of greasy, salty chips to accompany PB&J lunches. Running errands was a option.

I once saw a plaque that read "If a mother's place is in the home, why am I always in the van?" Good question now that my kids are adults and on their own. I have to admit, the errands I often run are not essential but extra. I choose to run out for a few things that I certainly could live without and might be better off in the process. I find it takes a real effort for me to leave my purse on the chair and resist the urge to head to the store.  I don't know if it's advertising that has brainwashed me into being such a consumer or my need to feel like I have everything I need at hand, but I couldn't be the only one stuck in this rut. Running errands can become a full-time occupation. I'm thinking of quitting. Of spending three full days without turning on the car engine.  But, before I do, I think I'll just run in for...

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Favorite Chair

Do you have a favorite chair? The one your family knows is “yours”? There may not be a sign on it, but it’s understood. For many years, I sat in an old wing chair I inherited from my family. It’s been reupholstered in different fabric styles, but it always feels the same. When my family opens Christmas gifts, we all have to sit in the same spot.  That’s not my mandate, but my kid’s. There’s something about those seats…

A few years ago, I heard a worship song that brought chills to my arms and tears to my eyes. That isn’t always the case for me. I love to worship and for many years, I sang from the stage leading others with wonderful, spirit-led songs. During those years, my desire was to move into a place with God of repentance, praise and thanksgiving and to be used by Him to help others do the same. It was a wonderful time of ministry for me. I wonder if learning so many songs is part of the reason that I’m a hard nut to crack when it comes to moving me so powerfully. Whatever the reason, this song did it. It’s written by my all-time favorite worship leader and composer, Travis Cottrell. His love for Christ is in every word he sings and if anyone can lead me into worship, it’s him. Thank you God for those who use their gifts for you.
Travis wrote a song called “The Mercy Seat.” It’s amazing on it’s own, but he also coupled it with the chorus from a Michael W. Smith song, “Lord Have Mercy.” 
While listening to it again this morning, I closed my eyes and pictured this mercy seat. What exactly is it? Do you think of a judges bench? A chair for the Pope? The Mercy Seat was built according to directions from God to Moses.  And it was made just like he said. It’s the top, or lid, of the Ark of the Covenant. This Ark was a box which held the Ten Commandment tablets and was placed in the inner-most room of the temple. Only the High Priest could enter the room called the Most Holy Place and only on one day each year. Pretty special. On that day, the high priest would bring blood into the room and sprinkle it on the Mercy seat to atone for the sins of the people of Israel.  
So, what’s this all about? Sprinkling blood over a lid. How does that mean anything to us? Stay with me here. Sometimes, when you search the meaning behind the original Hebrew words, you understand a little more. The Hebrew word meaning Mercy Seat means to cover. Ok, I get that; it’s a cover on the Ark. But, this word means cover in two ways; as a noun, meaning a lid or top and it’s root word is a verb pardon or atone for, as in to cover a debt. Ah, I think I’m getting warmer. Blood, sacrifice, cover a debt. Sounds like someone who saves.  But what about the seat? Is Jesus sitting on the Ark of the Covenant, the Mercy Seat?  
Covenant = promise. Jesus is the Covenant. The Promise. Everything we learn in the Old Testament points to him. All that blood, the killing of perfect animals, is symbolic of the perfect Jesus and his blood.  So, where is he seated now that his blood was given to cover us? He sits to the right of God who is always on his throne. He’s the ultimate High Priest in the Heavenly Temple and he’s interceding - going to God - on our behalf.

Today, I pictured him in this seat of honor with his arms stretched out. To me. To you.
So, come running. Come running to the Mercy Seat. 

You can listen to the song here:

Friday, July 08, 2011

Dress Rehearsal

I have a "girly girl." She's twenty-seven now, but would still love to buy sparkly shoes and skirts with petticoats if it were fashionable. Her favorite game when friends came to spend the afternoon was dress-up and I could always count on seeing girls giggling and twirling. I must admit that I've even seen a "twirl" now and then in the dressing room as we searched for prom dresses. Twirling must live deep within the hearts of girly girls everywhere.

Whether you consider yourself girly or cosmopolitan, the desire to be looked upon as breathtakingly beautiful is universal. We women do enjoy being the princess, no matter our age. I've often thought I should have a princess party at my home.  Not for four-year-olds with plastic scepters, but for grown girls with winsome hearts. A chance to let go of our grown up ways, to giggle and to twirl all the while, feeling very special.

If you were to ask my daughter which birthday was the best, she would tell you it was the magical night that my husband and I took her on a date. She had asked (with a pout) when she could accompany us on one of our monthly date nights and when her seventh birthday arrived, it provided the opportune time. Her nails were painted pink, her blonde curls caught up in a large bow and a new dress complete with a petticoat presented. The prettiest element of her outfit was the sparkle in her blue eyes. We took her to a revolving restaurant downtown where candles glowed and teenage girls in prom dresses bustled past our table. My princess found it all perfect. After dinner we strolled beside the warmly lit fountain and listened to the clip-clop of a carriage horse.  The evening ended, I tucked her into polka-dot sheets and prayed a mother's prayer.

Dressing up and feeling special.  Is it just for little girls?  Do we all crave this and why, do you think, it might be?  Today I was reminded of a possible reason.  I think God made us to long for this specialness. When we come before the throne, we will wear a new outfit.  A new dress, so to speak.  Our Holy God can't be near sin.  It just isn't possible.  As sinful people, we're drenched with it.  So, in order to have access into the throne room, to live with Jesus and the Father forever, we need a change of clothes. Jesus provides that for us. When we surrender to him as the one who saves us, we receive his clean and spotless clothes to cover us. We're told in 1 John 3:2-3 that "we shall be like Him." Now, isn't that something to look forward to? To stand spotless before him and feel special because "the King is enthralled by your beauty." (Ps. 45:11)

Join in! Feel special! It's what he died for.  Revelation 7:9 tells of a crowd of worshippers dressed in clean white robes.  Party attire.

And I bet some of them are twirling.
Made in my domestic days for a princess.