L is for the way you look at Me…. (Being a Kingdom Family VI)
The elder invited Jeff and I to come by and see the new Church building project that they were going to start. We had heard so much about the church that we could hardly wait to get there. We chose a particularly delicious Saturday morning and headed north. (Ahhh!! Our hearts still long to move north.)
After a bit of a drive, we drove up the curved drive and there it stood. It was lovely. I mean it was truly beautiful. I would say it was the most beautiful church I had ever seen. It was what I would call a medium sized brick church (probably 200 – 500 people could fit comfortably) sitting in the middle of a field surrounded by woods on two sides. It was on a hill that peered down, overlooking the little town.
Looking off to the left of the church you could see down into the town, where other little churches in town, many of them white against the dark blue of the lake that day stood at attention. The slate tiled roofs and copper gutters from the old homes caught the sunlight and glimmered, as though they were sneaking a saucy little wink in. Behind the church the forest was full and lush, with wandering walking paths carved into it. They too made the decline down the hill. It was truly gorgeous.
The second story had a set of six stained glass windows. Not set in the normal side-by-side pattern, but in half a dodecagon, leaving it with almost the look of an over-sized turret. The windows faced south, east and west so that they received the optimal amount of sun. I really wanted to settle in up there with my prayer journal and Bible….MAN could I pray in there! 🙂 (They said it even had an old fireplace – OH MY, get me in there, prayer journal, Bible and coffee in hand before a crackling fire and a sun rising morning – and it would take a large piece of earth-moving equipment to move me!!) 😀 Who ever had done the landscaping had made certain that all the flowers and trees accentuated the rich colors of the stained glass, so from every angle, the two seemed to be pointing to one another.
The person that invited us was just beginning to tell us all the changes that the expansion project would mean for them, when I saw the first of them – it was a family with three children. They looked bedraggled in clothing that didn’t fit any longer, let alone didn’t look clean. The children seemed to need a bath and I could smell the father before he got even with us. At the same moment, I noticed this family, I saw a woman with two children coming up the hill from the town. She was pushing a stroller and holding the hand of a toddler. She looked stressed and as though the weight of the world were upon her shoulders. Behind her was a man, obviously coming from the local hospital, as he still had his white lab coat on. His steps would indicate that he had had a long shift, because his steps were slow and weary.
One by one, the people began oozing out of the woods, up the hill from town, down the road – they came from all over and they stood there between us and the Church. There were hundreds of them, they would likely fill the entire sanctuary if someone would have invited them in. They were of different ethnicity, they were of differing ages. Some were families, some were couples, some were just single people. They ranged through all the socio-economic realms and they just stood there – looking at us. (It gave me the feeling that I had slipped into some sci-fi set or some such! I half expected to hear the theme to “Twilight Zone” start up.) Finally the man who I had seen first, bedraggled and tired and desperately in need of a bath, stepped forward.
He was obviously uncomfortable being the one to speak first. He cleared his throat, looked down at the ground, finally remembered that he had a ball cap on, pulled it off his head, leaving his hair in a tangled, greasy wave off to one side and he said, “Well, I think I speak for all of us here. We just can’t let you build any more on this church.”
Jeff and I were befuddled. Who were these people and why were they standing here telling the elder that we were standing with, that they weren’t going to allow the church to build? And why not? What did the expansion of the church building have to do with any of them? The church owned the property – it might even give some of them work. (Hopefully not the Dr, however, but perhaps the man standing in front of us?)
Jeff said, “I’m sorry – I don’t understand. Why don’t you want the church to add on?” The man looked at Jeff closely, staring deeply into his eyes, he shrugged and said, “She lied. She didn’t do what she said she would. We’ve been waiting for her to keep her word all this time and she hasn’t. So, we’re not going to let her grow any more.”
I woke up, feeling like someone had just punched me! I literally was grasping for air to breathe. I knew that this was not just some “you ate WHAT before you went to bed?” dream. This felt holy. I felt like I had touched the heart of the Father. I knew that He was aching for all those people standing around that church. AND this was not the first time I had dreamt about this place.
This dream was recurring for several months as the Lord worked in our hearts to love His people. The found, the lost and the wandering-around-confused. All of them.
The next marker of a Kingdom Family is that we love the Lord’s Sheep. We love the Father so much, that those who were made in His image just call to our hearts, so that we can’t help but love them.
And it’s not just the lost that we love. Rather we embrace the value that He places on relationships. Relationship is of utmost importance to our Lord. At the very moment that He died, the curtain was torn in two and our ability to have intimacy with our Lord, calling Him “Abba Father” was made available to us. I LOVE the blessing that Moses proclaimed over Benjamin….read it recently? Let me share it with you –
“Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in Him,
for He shields him all day long,
and the one the LORD loves rests between His shoulders.”
THAT is a God that desires relationship and puts high priority on it. And because of that, so does a Kingdom Family.
(For those that have been singing the song the whole time you were reading, “O is for the only one I see, V is very, very extraordinary, E is even more than anyone that you adore. Love is all that I can give to you, Love is more than just a game for two, Two in love can make it, Take my heart and please don’t break it, Love was made for me and you.” – Nat King Cole)