Tuesday, January 18, 2011
"Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good..."
It has been a wonderful time of feasting with the LORD lately. It all began around two weeks ago when the announcement was made at church that we would be having a Ladies' Dinner. Someone asked me if I would host a table. I said yes first and then asked, "What does that mean...host a table?" I was asked to bring my best dishes and set one of the tables for six for the soup and salad dinner on Friday night.
Since I have inherited my Dad's (and Mom's) beautiful china, I was eager to get them out and use them. I rummaged through the basement carefully pulling out one cobalt and gold rimmed plate after another, but there were no bowls. My mother left these dishes behind when she and my father parted ways more than a dozen years ago. I called her up and asked her about the bowls. "No bowls," she said. "I never bought them." Bummer. How on earth are we supposed to eat soup with fine china and no bowls?
I fretted over this fact for a tiny bit and then I just gave it to the LORD. "I need bowls for the soup, Lord. And I need You to provide them." We went shopping (me and Him). I started at the Kitchen store. My budget was beyond tiny (Rod is still unemployed). I know you're thinking, "You are BUYING bowls when your husband is unemployed?" I was on a mission...from God. I could feel a major blessing coming on.
The only thing the Kitchen store had to offer in my price range were clear glass bowls. They were functional, ninety-nine cents each and very boring and ugly. They would look actually quite disgusting with my mother's beautiful Fitz and Floyd Renaissance Cerulean Blue bone china. But, if I did not find anything better I was going to have to stick with these. I went to the dollar store. YES, the dollar store. Sometimes you can find really abstract good things at the dollar store. (Years ago I bought six cobalt blue glass stemmed water goblets on sale at the dollar store for fifty-cents each!) But on this day, all the dollar store had to offer were ceramic bowls with snowmen in the middle and Happy Holidays around the border. Nah. They wouldn't do, even if they were twenty-five cents a pop. I resisted the "good deal"...honestly, mostly because of the Happy Holidays part. I don't like that.
On to the next store. I began talking to my Shopping Partner more fervently. "I really need something nice and within "our" budget. Please, LORD, be merciful to me." We went to TJ MAXX. Now, I have had tremendous success with the Home Store part of TJ. I never have clothing success there, but the Home Store has been a treasure trove for me many times.
I marched right in and I saw the most breathtakingly beautiful dishes I have ever seen in my life. (No, not those up there.) When my mother told me how she came to buy the blue dishes and hide the plain ivory and gold ones her mother had purchased for her...I didn't understand until that moment. My grandmother bought my mother a full set of Lenox Tuxedo, Ivory and gold bone china dishes (above) when she married the first time. My mother secretly hated this pattern. BORING. (I think they are quite elegant, myself. They are plain, but elegant.) When my mom "grew up" into the woman who knew what her tastes were, she purchased the blue Fitz and Floyd. They are flashy and bold...definitely NOT boring. Very much the opposite. I wondered myself, if I would ever discover what MY taste was when I "grew up". When I stood there in TJ last Thursday, I discovered the answer: YES! And they were like neither of the sets of dishes my mother had.
These beauties were covered with gorgeous red roses and the brightest pink peonies with all kinds of green foliage clearly depicted as though they were works of ART! I began coveting those dishes instantly. I picked up one of the tall coffee cups and carefully upturned it looking for a price. Ouch, $7.99 (TJ price). Totally out of my price range for a coffee cup. Still, to sip my precious morning Joe out of this enchanting porcelain piece would really be something so...so...oh, the soup bowls. "Yes, LORD, I'm going to stop fantasizing and get back to business."
I scoured the aisles carefully searching for just the right thing. And I needed at least six of them. Finally, I saw something very strange...right at eye level. A box of four soup bowls on clearance for $7.00. They were white with a gold rim. They were china and not ceramic. There were two boxes and that was all. I started to walk away thinking, perhaps there is something else, something cheaper. As I moved away from the eight bowls I heard the LORD speak, "Where are you going?" "Well, LORD, I don't know. I'm just..." He said, "Those are your bowls. $1.75 each. Two boxes. Eight bowls. They match your china. Buy the bowls." Now, I have to admit. I hate to shop for clothing. Really, I do. So, that's why you all get to see me in the same clothes you have ALWAYS seen me in, ever since you've known me. I know this is true, because I have the same clothes I've had since 1991 when I moved here from California. But, I can't resist "THE HUNT" when I'm searching for something fun...like for the kitchen or the perfect gift for someone. But, my search was over. And I needed to get home and keep up with that mountain of laundry in my basement. So, I bought the bowls and praised Him all the way home..."You really do love me! You really do!"
When I opened the first box and washed the bowl, I took it downstairs to see how it would look with one of the plates. Perfect, absolutely perfect; as though the bowls were MADE to go with the china. He is Ssssssssssssssssssooooooo GGggggooooooooodddd!!! I just love Him. And I love it when He goes shopping with me! Because He is the best One to go shopping with ever. He never complains that His feet are hurting and He never knocks anything over and breaks it! (Smile.)
The ladies' dinner was such a blessing. Everyone's tables looked so beautiful. We enjoyed so many delicious soups, salads and wonderful fellowship. I thanked the LORD again and again for His precious presence with us. Fran Osigian gave us the most wonderfully inspired object lesson about what we stuff into our Temple. And how many times, we only slip in a tiny bit of the Word of God. Sad, but true.
Pastor Billy decided that we, as a church, would begin reading aloud the entire New Testament beginning on Monday night. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday nights from 6pm to 8:30 pm we would come together and take turns reading the New Testament through. I was so excited, I began praying immediately. What a privilege, what a joy, what an honor that we still live in a country where we CAN legally read God's word aloud in a public setting!
So, we gathered last night at six o'clock. Pastor Billy prayed and each of us who wanted to read a chapter from the book of Matthew did. We ate and ate and ate God's word until ten til nine when we finished the first book. Some of us were in tears. I was, in particular. It always crushes my heart to read how my Love was beaten, maligned, crushed and crucified by people He was sent to save. My sin cost my Love His life. But His precious resurrection secures mine! I'll never get over it.
Little Gracie is only six years old. She was the youngest person in the room. She knew what was expected of her: sit still, be very quiet and remember what I told you, "Jesus said, he who has ears to hear, let him hear." Bless her little heart. She did very well. She writhed around on the floor next to me when she finally grew tired of drawing and writing her letters and numbers. She tried to follow along with me, dotting her tiny finger along the red words. She is only learning to read and this was a feat for her. She crawled on the ground some more and discovered with delight a ladybug hiding under one of the chairs. She played with the poor thing until we took a break. Miss Juanita told her to go put the bug on a plant and she joyfully obeyed. She ate a bite or two of carrot cake...her daddy hogged the frosting, "too much sugar for you." And she curled up with me and comforted me as the tears dripped down my face for the last three chapters.
When she finally went to bed, Rod found the Matthew tape from her box of Bible tapes and popped it into the player. She got out of bed about ten minutes later and came into my room. "That's the same words on my tape that I heard in church tonight." (Oh, LORD, You're so good.) "Yes," I said, "you're right. Now go to sleep, okay? I love you." She gave me a sweet exhausted smile and went back to bed.
There is no telling what this FEAST of the WORD will do in our hearts. Specifically, I am thinking of Gracie. She is being saturated with God's word instead of feeding on the trash of the world. My prayer for both of my daughters (both of them) is that they would develop their own relationship with the Lord and that they would want to serve Him joyfully, willingly with all of their hearts for all the days of their lives. That's not too much to ask, is it? I mean, it's my prayer. And God promises us that His word will NOT return to Him without His intended results. It's like a slam-dunk prayer I'm praying, right?
"So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."
What a BOLD and WONDERFUL PROMISE!
I am looking forward to the rest of The FEAST this week, and on into next week. And I am so grateful that I read this devotion in Streams in the Desert right when I did. Because lately I have been FEASTING on His presence, too. Here's what I read:
"We find the expression 'the living God' many times in the Scriptures, and yet it is the very thing we are so prone to forget.
We forget that He is now exactly what He was three or four thousand years ago, that He has the same sovereign power, and that He extends the same gracious love toward those who love and serve Him.
We overlook the fact that He will do for us now what He did thousands of years ago for others, simply because He is the unchanging, living God.
What a reason to confide in Him, and in our darkest moments to never lose sight of the fact that He is still, and ever will be, the living God!
Be assured, if you walk with him, look to Him, and expect help from Him, He will never fail you." Streams in the Desert by LB COWMAN, January 17
Dr. John Adams said that his "greatest spiritual asset" was his "unwavering awareness of the actual presence of Jesus."
"Nothing sustained him as much as the realization that Jesus was ALWAYS actually present with him. This realization was totally independent of his own feelings, his worthiness, and his perceptions as to how Jesus would demonstrate His presence."
"Furthermore," he said, "Christ was the center of his thoughts. Whenever his mind was free from other matters, it would turn to Christ. Whenever he was alone, and no matter where he was, he would talk aloud to Christ as easily and as naturally as to any human friend. That is how very real Jesus' actual presence was to him."
-This also is from Streams, January 17th.
After I read this I couldn't help thinking about Isaiah 26:3,
"You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You. Because he trusts You."
LORD, I pray that You would continue to reveal Your presence to me as I realize You are actually with me, presently. I pray You would continue to hear me and guide me as I speak with you as naturally and easily as I would talk with any human friend. I thank You again for the extreme privilege of knowing You, loving You, and the precious promise of our eternal relationship. Thank You for making that possible for me and all of the others who love YOU and claim You as their Lord and Savior.
Please bless the reading of Your wonderful word as we continue on with You.
Maranatha, my King!
Thank You for THE FEAST!