Saturday, May 25, 2013

In grace, I sat.

Last night, I attended a service as part of an annual conference called Revival in Belfast.  Robin Mark, a well-known worship leader, and the pastoral team from his church, Paul and Priscilla Reid, travel from Belfast, Ireland to minister in rural Belfast, PEI.  They are fantastic, full of God, and humble shepherds of the Body of Christ.

We packed into this quaint, old-fashioned, country church complete with narrow pews, a wooden balcony (around three of the four walls in the sanctuary), and stain glass windows shimmering above the platform...  I sat with Chuck and Jan McGuire on my left, my aunt Susanne and Carla Shaw on my right, and glowing believers in Christ all around me, some familiar and known, some not.  Here we go... I thought, glad to be there but also knowing I was in a little deeper than I was comfortable with...

As soon as Robin Mark began to lead, I knew Lynn would have loved it.  For much of the service, I closed my eyes and lived the night out as though he were standing right beside me, hands raised high, hooting and hollering as usual, getting his groove on in the pew... He probably would have hip-checked me and done some not-so-subtle flirting, as per his style...  Though a point would come when all flirting would disappear, so lost would he be in the joy of worshipping His Savior... It wasn't hard to imagine.  

As the evening progressed and the Spirit of the Lord grew heavy and wondrously thick in the crowded room, I smiled to myself, remembering the shuffle.  Lynn had a particular stance when the Spirit became thick and he took on the role of discerning servant, willing to follow the Spirit in whatever direction, often receiving words of knowledge, aware of the specific workings of the Spirit in particular people's lives... He had his arms crossed, with one hand up on his chin, watching pensively and intuitively, as he rocked back in forth, usually shuffling his feet, his whole body in tune with both the rhythms of the music and the rhythms of Spirit.  Oh, I miss this shuffle!! I would watch him, my own Spirit on guard to the happenings around me, and wonder, What is Lynn discerning? I better keep my spiritual eyes open so I'm ready if he gives me the nod...  I'm ready, Lord, if you give the word.

Watching Paul and Priscilla Reid minister as a truly excellent husband and wife team, I imagined the many years they had had together, watching each other, learning each others' rhythms, learning to be in tune to the Spirit and to one another, learning to acknowledge and encourage each other in their particular strengths and spiritual giftings...  I always imagined my life with Lynn that way, that we would become that team.  We had some work to do, but we were well on our way.  We were a partnership.  We were in tune with the Lord and in tune with each other.  Our gifts were so complimentary, so perfectly joined together... How is it possible that he's gone?  It's done?  Over?  That's it?

I sat and watched. Ugh! There is nothing more difficult to endure than a worship service!  There is no place I am more aware of his absence!  As each Sunday rolls around... I am both hungry and starving for congregational worship, the fellowship of believers, and yet traumatized by it at the same time.  There is no place harder to be, no place I feel more alone, no place that causes quite as much pain...  What is it about church?!!?  It seems commonly to be the most difficult place for grievers to be, pastors or not!!  Is it the vulnerability?  the emotional highs and lows?  the sense of oneness in the body of Christ heightening the sense of loss to an overwhelming high, causing an inability to cope emotionally in an environment that is not usually conducive to emotional breakdowns???

The congregation worshipped with passion and vigour.  They surrounded me on every side.  We sang Revive Us, Revive us again with your fire!!! ...several times repeating the line, in full voice, To the widow walking through the veil of tears...  How could I have never noticed that line before?  Why did he have to keep going back to that second verse?

There came a point in the service when Priscilla, a fabulous speaker of whom I would have aspired to be like... (obviously, still do...) spoke about the grace to lead.  She exhorted those who are called in ministry and had everyone stand who is currently serving in church leadership to be blessed, empowered, and released in their leadership... Many around me stood... Chuck and Jan stood.  Carla stood.  Many in front and many behind stood.  And I sat.  In the small, crowded congregation of enthusiastic believers, I sat...  I did not stand.  I sat... so aware of my brokenness... so aware of Lynn's death... so aware of God's grace... so traumatized at the loss of my husband and our ministry together...

Right away, my aunt grabbed my hand, knowing my heart must be breaking. In fact, I felt my whole row bleeding with me...  Did I imagine it?  Then a hand reached from behind and rested on my shoulder.  They were praying for me, gently acknowledging my pain and somehow affirming me in the process.  I sat deep in brokenness, but whispers of glory and grace still danced around me... My heart so acutely longing for my husband, while promises of a future lingered in the Spirit.

The call of God is never about us.  Nor is it about the call...  The whole Christian life is lived in response to the grace of a loving and faithful God...  Do you love Me? Then feed my lambs...  (John 21:17)  I do love Him...

I was so emotionally drained at the end of this beautiful and powerful, yet terribly traumatic service... An old part of me longed to go up and meet Priscilla, bless her for her amazing ministry... But, I did not.  I could not... Then, she came to me :). The Lord (and/or my aunt!!) sent her over.  Compassion and grace filled her eyes as she prayed with me.  There is an extra grace, Natasha... There is a season... Your gifts will be used again someday... It will look different, but the call is still there...

It will look different, but the call is still there...  


After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.  To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.  (1 Peter 5:10-11) 

1 comment:

  1. In His time.....I am awaiting to hear your beautiful voice....His timing is perfect....bless you sweet Natasha. As you heal you, you are aiding in my healing too...through your many words. Blessings to you and your beautiful girls