Like Cornelius

I met Cornelius in a chapel in the North Carolina mountains.

Cornelius is who I hope to be one day.

Let me tell you exactly how we crossed paths.

This year for our 15th anniversary WK and headed to the Blue Ridge Mountains. We had the “honeymoon” that we only could have dreamed of when we stayed in that condo in Hawaii.

We did all kinds of things and, after over a year of running off my feet, I relaxed.

For a whole week I enjoyed the days, the luxury, and the company. I inhaled deeply the grace and extravagance of God and my husband, and exhaled the feelings of unworthiness and idleness.

We hiked trails to see waterfalls. We toured our historical hotel. We drove in the rain for part of Blue Ridge parkway as the steam from the rain filled the valley. We drove with our (rented) top down through the tallest trees this Oklahoma girl has ever seen.

We explored the grounds of the Biltmore Estate thanks to a long time family friend’s generosity. We had several extra courses the night of our anniversary because another friend’s cousin owned a fabulous restaurant. We had cocktail hour (that I called “snackers” because I ain’t a cocktail girl) and spa time at our hotel each night.

I was in heaven.

But it was on the day that we went to the Billy Graham Conference Center that I met Cornelius.

The Cove in the Blue Ridge Mountains holds about 1200 acres used by Billy Graham as personal retreat and training for Christians across the nation.

We were touring the chapel there and met several volunteers along the way. They were all very knowledgable and helpful. As we went into the main chapel area that had a pulpit transplanted there that was hundreds of years old (complete with it’s original candelabra for evening sermons), Barbara and Cornelius met us to tell of the place.

They took their time telling us all about the influence Ruth Graham had on the design and construction of the chapel.

They were a sweet couple, but here’s what will always stick out to me.

Cornelius hobbled along with the aid of a walker. His body was extremely frail. He drooled a little when he talked.

Now… Why on earth would I want to be like that?

Because his eyes lit up when he talked (ok, yelled… he was pretty deaf too) about Jesus. His step seemed lighter as he quoted Ruth and Billy’s favorite verses respectively.

He reminded me of 2 Corinthians 4:16 when Paul says, “Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day.”

Longevity runs in my family. By the time my race is run, I may find myself watching my outer body waste away.

But here is what I pray. I pray that my unstable legs will still follow Jesus. I pray that my eyes still light up when they see his work. I pray that my drooling mouth keeps speaking his praise.

I refuse to ask God for less than more of him when then there is less off me.

One day soon Cornelius will see Jesus face to face. He will stand straighter than he did as a boy. He will run faster than he has in years. He will have a new body, but he will have the same Jesus.

Until then I pray that both Cornelius and I grow closer to the only One who gives drooling lips the ability to praise.

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How they see Jesus

In the spring at BGCO Women’s retreat Lina Abujamra said something like this, “If they know your name, they should know your Jesus.”

It got me thinking as a churched person. A lot of people know I follow Jesus, but that’s because they are following him, too.

But how often do we give credit where credit is due?

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Be still and know

She is two and has never had the capacity to be still. Even when she wants to snuggle she is moving. Maybe she is rolling over the top of me or rubbing her hand up and down the inside of my arm (sometimes she pinches me there, and HEAVEN HELP ME).

The place where it also very noticeable is when I am trying to put her coat on her. I almost always start by saying something like, “Let’s put your coat on.”

She is very independent and it will not be long before she will no longer need my help. But for right now, I just want her to BE STILL.

It is only when she stills her will and her “help,” that I am able to get the coat on her tiny frame.

I don’t want her to stop getting ready. I don’t want her to go limp and go back to the days it was like trying to dress spaghetti. I just want her to trust me. I want her to rest in my hands.

I don’t her to stop. I want her to be.

She very often makes some little surprised “huh” sigh as her arm finally gets into their respective holes, and when the zipper finally comes to the close at the top. I’m not sure why she forgets. It happens over and over every week in winter time, and it’s like she finally sees what I can do. She finally knows. Mama is trying to get her coat on.

Sometimes I have read the verse “be still and know that I am God” as a command to stop, or even a command to go limp spiritually. But I honestly have started reading it more like my scenarios with Snickle.

It’s usually pretty obvious when God is trying to do something in me. More often than not the event begins with Him announcing or promising what He is about to do.

I am very independent, and He just wants me to be still.

God doesn’t want me to stop obeying or lose control of the position He is holding me in. He wants me to trust Him. He wants me to rest in His most capable hands.

He doesn’t want me to stop. He wants me to be.

And so many times when God comes through for me, I give a little surprised internal sigh that He actually accomplished what He promised he would do. I’m not sure why I forget how often His faithfulness comes through. But in that moment I look around and I see all that God can do. I finally KNOW that He can do and has done the work for me.

What would it look like, if every time God announced something He wanted to do in, for, or through me, I was just still? What if I didn’t “help,” but just was being the thing He wanted? How quickly could we get to the part where I was able to KNOW He was God?

I pray that each day I would be closer to being still and just letting God work. I pray that I won’t think of it as quitting, but as being.

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Jesus DID it all

I try too hard. I think too much is dependent on me.

We celebrate all that Jesus did for us. Our hearts are moved by the words “Jesus paid it all.” We would argue anyone to the ground who tried to make us think that we earned any part of our salvation.

We remember the gift that is eternal life. We sit in awe of the sacrifice that was made for us through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. We cannot believe a perfect Lamb stood in our sinful place.

But what if it was even bigger than that. What if the payment and even the victory wasn’t all there was to Jesus’s mission? What if this free gift wasn’t just an opportunity for us to better now? What if it wasn’t a restart but an absolute transformation?

Do you know that Matthew 5:17 also says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them?”

Did you know that fulfill means “do?”

Here’s the thing. Before Jesus died as payment and rose as victor, his whole existence was doing the law. The law was a covenant. Covenants don’t get cast aside… they get fulfilled. There were dire consequences when covenants were not kept. Almost always the cost of breaking the covenant was death (sound familiar).

As sinners, we are all just breathing in and out the breaking of the covenant. We’re meandering through life not caring about or trying to make up for the broken covenant. And God says I am going to come and meet both sides of the covenant (or the law).

He didn’t throw it away. The consequences were too great. Aside from that, He would never break a promise.

So here we are on the other side of the gift of salvation, but have we accepted the gift of a performed covenant?

What if the lyrics went: “Jesus DID it all, all to Him I give, my life had fallen short again, his perfection made me live.”

We’re not living with a God who needs our help. He doesn’t need our works to help repay the sin debt. He doesn’t need our good deeds to help with holiness.

There is a terror in loss of control, but it is calmed when someone greater holds the control. When I breathe in the absolute payment for my sin and complete fulfillment of the requirements, I can, like the Psalmist (119:32) says, “run in the way of his commandments.” Someone paid for my entry and already ran and won the race for me.

Friends, Jesus DID it all. Do you know it? Do you believe it? Do you live it?

If we did, it would transform the way we live, worship, and serve. Oh, that we may learn how to accept that wonderful gift of fulfillment.

JESUS DID IT ALL!

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It’s both

I have never had a relationship based on feeling alone.

There is something more to it. There is an element of stubbornness. There is a deep connectedness that holds on when the feelings don’t match the situation.

There is also a putting the interest of others above your own. (Certainly, not all of the time, but I would say equal parts or a little more.) There is an interest in the person. There is an interest in his or her story. There is an interest in the things that he or she knows about.

There is an expertise that one gets about that person. Of course, knowledge alone does not determine my relationship with him or her, but I cannot know nothing of him or her either.

I am in love with WK… in the giddy school girl way. I am in love with him in the melt your insides and rip your clothes off way. I am in love with him in the get all dressed up to look my best for him on special nights kind of way. I am in love with him in the hold hands in public and sit on the same side of the table kind of way.

But that’s not it. If it was, it would be shallow. If it was, it would be tiring to keep up. If it was, I would question my love for him when I got a headache or was distracted with a challenge.

I am also in love with him in the grow old with him kind of way. I am in love with him in the do laundry, do dishes, and bear children for him kind of way. I am love with him in the I will pay attention (more than hearing or listening) to stories about cars and computers kind of way. I am in love with him in the making his life my life kind of way.

It’s both. It’s a marriage of both the feeling of love and the constitution of it.

Sometimes I feel the feelings. Sometimes I do the work of them.

A deep abiding love will both make your heart soar and your muscles ache. It will make you feel amazing and it will wear you out. It is both an emotion and an institution.

Culturally we like to apply the shallow kind of love to God as well as people. But it’s both…

I am in love with my Savior… In a giddy school girl kind of way, and a lay down my life for Him kind of way. I am in love in the heart soaring, and the read Leviticus kind of way. I am in love in a follow him when things look nice and when things look awful kind of way. I am in love with Him in a sing hallelujah, and in a memorize His word kind of way.

It’s both. It’s a marriage of both the relationship and the regulations.

If I would give this kind of love to my husband why would I give anything less to my Lord?

I hope that we learn a deeper love each day… one that causes us to cheer and to sacrifice.

It’s the only kind of love worth having.

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