Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What are you Holding?

Except for a very few years of my life, my calendar planning has always been governed by the rhythm of the school year.
Since my daughter and son-in-love are both teachers and my two granddaughters are both in school, there is no way of getting around it – so much of what we plan and what we do depends on school scheduling , whether it is a Pro-D Day (day off for kids- professional day for teachers) spring break, Christmas break or SUMMER HOLIDAYS.

It is again summer holidays.

Immediately, what comes to mind are long, sun drenched days when people plan vacations, lazy days at the beach or the lake, camping , outdoor activites - whatever is the pleasure of choice. Beautiful memories are built and treasured around summer holidays !

But !
With the summer fun I see good things set aside. I see churches emptying, bible studies, prayer meetings, Sunday School put on summer hold.

I’m really NOT suggesting people should not withdraw from day to day activities to refresh, renew and spend valuable time with family or friends. We all need that to stay strong in body, mind and soul and in our relationships.
But I remember when churches first began to accommodate people's shift in focus in the summer and gave up trying to keep Sunday School and church programs going. I remember being so puzzled as a child -- and asking "Is God not important in the summertime?"

As I thought about this recently, the first verse from I John came to mind and it pictured for me the different ways people relate to God and how major a role He plays in their lives.

The first line of the verse is “That which was from the beginning”
How many people never go beyond this realization. They are vaguely aware that somewhere there was a beginning.. and acknowledge that God was there… but there is little conscious effort of going beyond that point.
The people in Noah’s time would fit here. Self-indulgence and pleasure for the moment had long removed any thought of God beyond the very distant “once upon a time” concept of Him.

The next line says “that which we have heard”
There are those who have heard of God, who know Him through the words of others. These people relate to God from a distance, doing the religious things as a duty or habit but never experiencing a personal relationship.
Job , before he was tested, was one of these kind of people - by his own admission.
Job 42:5 "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear…”


The verse continues with “That which we have seen with our eyes”
God is coming closer into ‘personal’ view. We have all watched our young children busy at play. We call and we know they hear us …but their eyes and attention remain focused on their play. We call them by name, “Johnny, LOOK at me!”
We are far more attentive to what we are hearing AND seeing !
Job moved to this level after God said, “Look at me, Job!” and Job looked and listened and exclaimed… "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear…But now my eye sees You.”

Do we stay there or do we follow the progression of I John 1:1 ? The next step is “That which we have looked upon!”
Do you see? Something happens between “seeing” and “looking upon”. There is a getting up from where we were and walking over to take a closer look.
We are now engaged mind and emotion….examining …. Interested!!
Perhaps we could use Zacchaeus as an example here. He quite literally was not content to see Jesus from afar. He climbed up a tree so that he could get a good look… quite literally “to look upon” Jesus. He felt the stirring in his heart that this was no ordinary man !

Then comes the last step ! “and our hands have handled”
We have now reached out and taken something. It is in our hands!! We are hearing, seeing , touching , feeling – other things have been put down, forgotten – what is in our hands is most important. This is where relationship happens, as Zacchaeus found out. To his delight, Jesus looked up and I’m sure with a smile that melted Zaccaeus’s heart, said, “Come down, Zaccaeus, I must come to your house today and sit at your table.”

That is where I want to be! No matter how busy my life is , how much joy God’s world gives me , I want to keep Him in my hands and heart…. I want to give Him first place…. I want Him to know that He is always welcome at my table.

The verse ends with defining the subject…. "The Word of Life"…. The Word of God made life for us --- Jesus!
How much time will you give Him this summer ?

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6 comments:

charlotte said...

julie
i don't nearly leave a comment as often as i read your words of wisdom.
just know that i appreciate them and the thought and inspiration you put behind them.

Strider said...

Amen. You know, I use to measure my commitment to God by how often I attended church stuff. There is certainly more to the relationship with the Creator of the Universe than just church (don't get me wrong, I am a believer in the followship). The relationship is with the Father directly, and He surly wants to bring us closer, as I want to dray close. Nothing, good or best, should stand in the way of this! Blessings my friend.

truth said...

When my kids were younger, I so looked forward to summers for spiritual renewal and learning. God was always faithful to give me something very specific He was working in me and a plan to share it with my children.

We were able to spend so much more time in creative bible study/activities that really made the Word come alive. I was just thinking the other day that now that all but 1 of my children have graduated, I've really gotten away from summers at spiritual renewal time. Thanks for the timely reminder.

Nicki said...

Amen.
When we started going to Church I couldn't understand why activities stopped over the holidays. After we were there for a while I understood that it was because of limited people to run the activities and smaller groups due to people being away but I could never understand why we couldn't join smaller bible study groups together (a change is as good as a holiday) and have whole group activities instead of smaller classes for Sunday school.

Lovella said...

I know that in our own church, the bible camps and special activites are dependent on people being involved. There must be a balance between resting and renewing and the total lapse of responsibilties that keep our fellowships running. I remember trying to get replacements for the summer months. . it was a dreaded job to be sure. Ialso understood that in a time that families are bombarded by work and a full calendar all the time. . .it is good and healthy for them to take time to go and do vacations and be a family. I well remember going to small churchs while on vacation. . .. ah . . more memories.

I've started my summer by reading a book that will encourage me in my walk with God. .

Demara said...

interesting post.
And yes my fav. was the story of Zacchaeus, because I probably would have had to climb a tree to see Jesus too!