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worship

You're A Good Good Father

Faith, FamilyDeane Watters2 Comments

Yesterday, the first Sunday in Advent, I felt especially thankful to have part of our family sitting with us in church.  As the worship team began to strum our next song and the lyrics went up on the screen, people started to sing and our little Lucy's eyes brightened up immediately. "We sing that song at our church!" she proclaimed as she started swaying and singing along.

You're a Good, Good Father.

It's who you are, It's who you are, It's who you are

And I'm loved by you.

It's who I am, It's who I am, It's who I am.

Her delight and my history collided in that moment and I felt the impact of God's work in my life.

My dad was a good enough man but he was not a great father to me.  It was a turning point in my healing to understand his humanity, his history. And because of him I absolutely LOVED the idea of God as Father...the only perfect Father. I have come to keep my eyes open for fathers who represent God well as dads to their children. I look around and I see guys who act lovingly toward their children, who teach carefully, who are patient and kind, who come home every night, who are available, good listeners, who accept their kids for who they are, who encourage and build them.

One father made a deep impact on me while in China. Brian and I along with Joel and Rachel were having a little picnic during one of our outings. Our grandchildren, two-year-old Lucy and one-year-old Charles, were hungry, tired and things seemed a bit stressed. At one point, Lucy reached down and found her hand full of dirt. Her eyes lit up and I saw her face brighten as she lifted her hand and proceeded to throw that fist-full straight at me. I don't think there was any malice in the act. She just decided that it was a good idea, something fun.

Now stop and think to yourself. What would most of us do? Our voices might rise a bit and the shaming words would just pop out so easily, "Lucy, you know better than that! We don't throw dirt! Say I'm sorry to Grandma!!"

But that is not what happened. Her daddy picked her up and explained to her that throwing dirt was not a good idea; her decision was a poor choice, a mistake, but it's OK to make mistakes, we just need to make them right. He held her close. He talked quietly. He told her he loved her. He waited for her. He told her again, "It's OK to make mistakes. We love you. But you need to make it right by saying I'm sorry to Grandma."

I could see her little eyes working, stubbornness hovering just an inch above all that love. Then, when the time seemed right, she decided, yes, "I'm sorry Grandma."

Relieved, I responded, "I forgive you, Lucy, Grandma loves you!" followed by a big hug and a kiss. All was forgiven. I never heard it brought up again. She had made it right and learned a few good lessons in the process.

That is what came to my mind as Lucy delighted in the recognition of You're a Good Good Father. 

As the Advent season starts I can't help but go back to this song and breathe in the truth of the goodness of God. Long before Jesus was born, God had the plan to send a Savior to Israel. In Isaiah he wrote: A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD - and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.

For this season we, of the Christian faith, will focus on Jesus. We will remember how a baby came to earth to save us from our sins. We will recall the story of his birth, his amazing life, death and resurrection as a triumph over sin and death. We'll hear it over and over in Christmas readings and carols, church services and in cards that have already started arriving.

But today I savor our good, good Father who had a plan and carried out his promise. He does not shame or call us to task for our humanity. He loves. He is patient. He made a way for Jesus to make it right. Our self-will hovers above and within us but he patiently waits for his goodness to be recognized and embraced, so that roots can form and a shoot of faith can grow up in our hearts. Wisdom and understanding form a deep-inside-knowing that we are loved and lovable.

That is what I call a good, good Father. 2016-01-18_0020

where do we find joy?

Faith, FamilyDeane Watters3 Comments

When I look back on our time in China, one "lesson" rises to the top for me. I was asked to come on this team to take care of our grandchildren. I was delighted to say yes and the moment I was asked, it was affirmed in my heart that this was a calling for me. I am committed to helping our kids, Joel and Rachel, in their ministry and this was the current way they were asking for the kind of support I give.

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Every morning my job was to play, teach, laugh, sing, dance, snuggle, encourage, and love on these two little sweethearts, ages 2 1/2 and 14 months. They easily slipped into the routine and knew what to expect when mom and dad kissed them goodbye and shut the door.  There were times when another leader and her two-year-old son, Noah, joined us and they all ran, laughed and played in the hallway or in our room. While eating a snack, changing diapers and reading stories, the time just flew! Before long it was time to strap Charles into the front pack and pop Lucy into the stroller and make the long trek to meet the others for lunch.

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But, if you know me, you know how attracted I am to spiritual things. The others who came on this trip got to go to class every morning where they studied American and Chinese culture. Our team met every morning to study the book of Mark and to pray. They were divided into small groups that met regularly and on Sundays they worshipped, prayed, and spent the day quietly enjoying rest and renewal.

Most of that was done while I was with Lucy and Charles.

One Sunday morning the kids and I sat in on the beginning of the team's worship time. As we sang and prayed together, I was loving it! But soon the little ones grew restless and I knew they had to be taken out. As I closed the door and escorted them into the hallway, I felt tears welling up, disappointed that I could not stay and worship with the others.

But a thought came to me. Perhaps the Spirit of God was telling me...

Being with the babies is what I called you here for...

This is your worship...

Here is your joy.

I felt in that moment, that God was telling me that doing what I was called to do was a  way to worship Him...just as lovely as singing words to Him. I knew that my joy on this trip would be in loving and being present with them, not wishing I was somewhere else.

And it played out to be true. Sometimes I felt compelled to tell Joel, at the end of the morning, "I found joy in these two today! God blessed me today through them. I love being with them!"

I believe this idea has a larger scope than just me in China with our grandkids. Since coming home I have talked to people who are wishing they were somewhere else, doing something else, but they are finding themselves in a "waiting room." They could be doing so much good...elsewhere. And it is true!

But God has joy to give in unexpected places.

He has me here at home now, preparing for a Women's Retreat and there are times I'd rather be working on the baby quilt or fixing some freezer meals for when that new baby comes. But I remember that I've been called to this time and place and  my joy is here and now in doing what God has called me to.

May I remember that now is the best time for worship! Doing the task at hand, engaged and focused, has become a pathway to joy for me and a way to honor God.

Blessed is the man who listens to me (wisdom) watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. Proverbs 8:34

In this case, wisdom came to me as I shut the door on what I really wanted and walked through the doorway of the gentle teaching of the Spirit of God.

 

Resplendent with Light

FaithDeane Watters2 Comments

Smoky incense permeated the temple. The musky overpowering odor filled our lungs and clouded the view. People were bowing dutifully to the gods of Buddha. Unsure of what was happening, I could see worship: incense sticks smoldering, candles being lit, flowers laid down with men and women bowing, reverent and serious.2016-01-20_0033

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On this hot August day with hundreds of people, I came to observe, to respect, to learn, to feel and to find my God.  The words, "Your Name is higher," kept forming in my heart and I felt the calm assurance that I need not fear anything. My God was there and He is higher. More than any hand made thing, He is alive.

Beautifully carved buildings filled with many silent statues surrounded us. The prayer wheels,  chanting monks, tingling bells, reverent attitudes and ancient smells engulfed us as we watched, mesmerized by the intensity of it all.

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Unfamiliar with the Buddhist beliefs I did not know what or who the people were worshiping but I knew it was not God Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth.

Our group of college-aged people gathered around at one point and started quietly and respectfully singing. The melody was gentle and bright and honoring to the God it was lifting up.

Holy Spirit you are welcome here.

Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere.

Your glory God is what our hearts long for

to be overcome by your Presence, Lord... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

God is resplendent with light and no amount of darkness can overcome Him.

Questions remain for me after this visit. I want to know more about this ancient religion that binds its people to incense and sacrifice and the desire to be good enough, acceptable. On that day, though,  I once again stepped into the warmth of my Father God with full assurance that he already sacrificed all that was needed, is alive still, and continues to guard and woo hearts around the world toward himself.