If you'd asked me to create a perfect Sunday, I would have tried to assemble all the ingredients that have gone into this day. But the fact is, perfect days can't be ordered, assembled or fabricated. They're gifts, and the best you can do, when you find yourself in the middle of that gift, is to look up and say "Thank you."
Before I could even reach the front door this morning, Paula (of Tony and Paula) greeted me me with a hug and a smile and grande mocha. She does that sometimes, just because she thinks I'd like a mocha during church. I like the way Paula thinks.
Once I stepped into the lobby, Mark and Taryn greeted me and handed me a bulletin. Something about those two always makes me happy. Don't ask me to explain. I've given up trying to trace it down to something understandable. I just like them a bunch.
Said hello to Tony, and Jon (of Fran and Jon), and John Watson. Hugged Elaina. Got a hug from Chris Underwood. Asked Cora about her sniffles. Had a nice conversation with Bonita, who had been a pastor's wife herself before losing her husband in a plane accident several years ago. She is a sweet, gentle woman with beautiful, soft brown eyes. She asked about my recent pastors' wife conference. "Did you have a good time?"
"I did. It was wonderful."
She smiled. "We were praying you'd be refreshed." ("We" being Bonita and her new husband of six months, John). It blessed me tremendously to think of this woman asking God to refill me. Only another pastor's wife would know how much that was needed.
After talking with Bonita, I met a new couple, saw a couple I hadn't seen in awhile, and indulged in a few quick heart-to-hearts to straighten up a few must-straighten issues. Those are private, so you'll just have to wonder.
Worship began, and as it did, every difficult moment of the past week slipped away. I loved the fact that my husband and brother-in-law (who are both crazy-good singers) were back on the worship team; loved the way Elaina and Tarri harmonized; loved the set Corey picked out; loved the words to Brett Williams' song, Hideaway:
Everlasting, loving saving
Underneath me when I fall
Outstretched every time I call
The arms of God are always near
They hold me high above my fear
This is where I want to stay
When I feel God's arms around me
Healing, rest and peace surround me
My weakness only brings to light
The arms of God, such strength and might
The arms of God will always be
Open, waiting here for me
This is where I want to stay
Men: My hideaway (Women: You are my rest)
My hideaway (You are my home)
My hideaway (Safe in Your arms)
You're my hideaway (My hideaway)
When you sing words like that--words that remind you God is near and good and strong, and ready to hold you just as soon as you're ready to be held--it patches the little cracks your heart gathered through the week. It soothes your hurts and fills your lungs and clears your vision. You remember what matters--and you remember that He won't be long in coming for you.
Dave's message was wonderful. He taught on the first half of John, chapter two, and he began by pointing out that the first miracle of Jesus happened at a wedding. As Dave sees it, there's an awesome significance to that. He thinks it's to remind us that Jesus came to find a Bride. We're that Bride--all we imperfect, fumbling beings who continually fall and and are continually restored. He came for us. I was humbled anew at that thought.
Dave had so many great insights into that half-a-chapter that my Bible now contains a new series of scribbles, stars and arrows on that second page of John. I almost couldn't write fast enough to keep up with all that wisdom. Tonight I want to go back and try to decipher my notes, and ponder all those new thoughts.
After church, more fellowship happened. More hugs were exchanged. Laughter punctuated a dozen clusters of conversation. A cup of coffee was spilled on the gym floor; three people helped to clean it. Plans were made for lunch, and dinner, and paintball. A borrowed book was returned. My nephew, Nathan, ran in with a basketball. A trio of boys chased each other around our legs in a game of tag. The men stacked the chairs, Laurie and her helpers walked around offering trays of leftover muffins ("Please take these home!"). And in the end, we stragglers escorted each other to our cars.
I'll see some on Tuesday night, when we gather for women's ministry, and some Wednesday night, when we'll meet to study the book of Ruth. Four of us will meet for prayer on Thursday.
But it was still hard to say good bye. I sure do love the Bride of Christ.
I sleep, but my heart is awake; It is the voice of my beloved! He knocks, saying, "Open for me, my sister, my love, My dove, my perfect one ..." Song of Solomon 5:2 (NKJV)