Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Souvenirs of misery

International travel has a way of showing what I really "need" to take along. While I have gotten better and better at packing and consolidating my suitcase, I still don't do a perfect job. Part of the problem is not what I start out with, but what I bring home!

Yup, I'm a good tourist. I bring home LOTS of souvenirs. And as I pack and re-pack, I struggle to fit them all in...

One of my daughters was listening to a song the other day, and the lyrics helped me put some pieces together:

Well, I was doublin' over, the load on my shoulders
Was a weight I carried with me everyday
Crossin' miles of frustrations and rivers a ragin'
Pickin' up stones I found along the way

You see, it isn't what I started with that causes my problems over the long haul. It's what I add to my already full suitcase...

I staggered and I stumbled down
Pathways of trouble
I was haulin' those souvenirs of misery
And with each step taken my back was breakin'
'Til I found the One who took it all from me

Souvenirs of misery... What a great way to describe what I carry along as I stagger through life! The misery itself (the sin, the mistakes) are over and done with, forgiven and forgotten by God. But the 'souvenirs' live on in the consequences of our actions: in broken relationships, hurt feelings, bad memories, or a bad habit that I just can't break so easily.

Through the darkest alleys and loneliest valleys
I was draggin' those heavy chains of doubt and fear
Then with the one Word spoken the locks were broken
Now He's leading me to places
Where there are no tears

Little by little, I'm releasing my hold on the chains of doubt and fear that I've collected in my life. God unlocked the chains years ago, but I seem to insist on carrying them around any way. (No it doesn't make sense... but that just proves I am so very human!) I can say in confidence that when I make it to heaven, to the place "where there are no tears," every one of those chains will be gone.

I really am learning how to be "travelin' light"!

From our home to yours -


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Buildings for God

After a recent trip to England, visiting some of the large and small "buildings for God" (i.e. churches and cathedrals) I had to ponder "what do these buildings mean to the everyday person?"

  • Are they monuments to what people believed in the past?
  • Are they historical landmarks that make a city or town look quaint, and attract tourists?
  • Or, are they centers of empowered worship, vitally portraying the Living Triune God?

I'd like to hope and believe for the last option. But I'm not so sure.

I'm not the only one who has pondered this question. Howard Snyder, in a recent article in Christianity Today, offered his thoughts. He notes that "Jesus-centered" churches can keep their priorities straight between builidngs and ministry, between worship and outreach.

Don't get me wrong! Visiting the cathedrals at York and Canterbury, craning my neck to view the high, lofty and vaulted ceilings, marveling at the construction and artistry in carved wood and stone was a wonderful experience. Worshipping in a church where my immigrant ancestors were once members was also a spiritual highlight. But it all means nothing, in England, or in Maryland, if the people who attend services in these buildings don't take the Word out into the world.

I'm still processing what this means... and how I'll make a difference here in my zipcode...

From our home to yours,