There we stood, at the altar lined with flags from all over the world. It was a “Missions” weekend at our church. Certainly, every weekend we worship in the context of joining with the global Church. But this weekend in particular we hosted a missionary couple, and focused on praying our family across the globe. This time, more than ever before, we prayed for our “family in Christ”. It was as if God and the worship pastor conspired to know exactly what would grab onto my hearts’ usually untapped emotion, and stretch it tight.
“..all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid.”
It was a busy weekend. I was preparing to leave town for a Small Groups conference in Atlanta, and trying to cram as much family time into these days as I could. I’ll admit, it’s not just for their sake, either. We did a flash-light pajama party at the park near our house. We enjoyed a “Missions Breakfast” where my girls made houses out of cardboard trash. We hiked through the woods, enjoying beautiful fall weather. I even got to take my wife out on a date for gluten-free baked goods and live music.
“..Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit...”
So I’ll confess, as I moved to the altar that morning – my mind was not centered on Christ. I was going through the checklist of everything I’d packed for my 18-hour bus ride after church. I was hoping I’d done enough to prepare my family for my being gone a few days. I even thought about the NHL lock-out, and how sad it was that I hadn’t watched any hockey yet this season. But as we moved toward the altar, even though I was simply doing what I know we should be doing…God was waiting for me.
“..that we might perfectly Love you, and worthily magnify Your Holy Name...”
We sang the hymn “I’m Praying For You.” As we stood there singing, the words I spoke to my daughter hit me even harder than they may have hit her…”We’re praying for your sister.” The little girl who is in Africa somewhere, waiting for us to come bring her home. I want to share Jesus with her. I want to Love Jesus with her. I want to offer her freedom from burdens, and comfort/peace in Christ.
“..through Christ our Lord.“
But this past week, I’ve thought more about the NHL Lockout than I have the conflict in the DRC. My mind knows more about the issues between the players and owners of hockey – than it does the Government and Rebels of the country my daughter is currently stranded in. My eyes began to water (not tears, just allergies…er somethin’), and I held my daughter and put my arm around my wife as we sang together. As we prayed together. As I prayed, “Lord, give me more of a burden for things of significance than things of little significance.
Sure, many people depend on the existence and happening of an NHL season. But not me. Not my daughters. Not my family. You may read this, and think how silly it may sound – but for me it was an important moment of God checking my heart. What burdens was I carrying that mattered? What burdens am I carrying that really aren’t burdens at all? What can I release, so that my arms are free to lift up new prayers?
How is your heart opening to God this week?