Last Thursday night, my wife and I went to the MaundyThursday evening service at Rio Vista.We had a special time of worship with Ryan. We heard a great message from Pastor Matt. As we celebrated Communion, all of the families were invited up front to be prayed over by the church's pastors and leaders. We then listened to a reading of the Passion narrative and left in total silence.
What a wonderful and much-needed evening to help turn our eyes upon Christ!
As Matt began his message, he talked about the honor that our Mickey took in transporting the heavy wooden cross to the stage in preparation for this weekend. Mickey chose to carry it alone, treating it as an opportunity to reflect upon Christ and His love in carrying the Cross for us. And when Laura and I walked to the front to receive prayer, I was met by Jim Stafiej, who received us with a smile and a hug. He prayed over us. It was really beautiful, and it again reminded me of how much I love and appreciate our staff at Bethany! Thank you for loving Christ so well and wanting to love Him even more.
As I sat in my seat toward the end of the service, I was not ready to go home. I wanted the evening to continue all night. Husbands were praying over wives. Tears were flowing all around me. Then a woman I've never met came and sat down in front of me. She was wearing a shawl around her neck with a Scripture verse stitched into the fabric facing me. It was my life verse... a verse that I had penned into every yearbook as a teacher at Westminster Academy -- hoping that my students would cling to it. It was the verse that I chose to include in our Bethany yearbook. It was a verse that God has used to help rescue me from so many painful seasons in life.
"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you; He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing."
That verse captures so much of the heart of God to me. He is so very close and near to us. He has promised and is powerful enough to provide rescue for you. This verse shows His ENTHUSIASTIC love for you -- His passionately romantic heart for you. Your Savior SINGS over you! He takes DELIGHT in you! And He is eager to quiet your soul and bring peace into your hurting heart. As I pondered the goodness of God to put that shawl in front of my face in that particular moment, I then looked up to the wooden Cross which had been lit red.
That Cross was the cost of Zephaniah 3:17. In an act of sweet tenderness, God flooded my heart with gratitude and worship for the undeserved love expressed on that Cross. That love is too great to comprehend. And as we celebrate this Good Friday, we can be confident that the power of the Cross has made Zephaniah 3:17 a reality for all of us. Amazing!
I pray that God gives you all a very peaceful and worship-filled Easter break!
Love you all,