27 December 2013

Evidence of Things Unseen

The last post I did about not ‘doing’ Santa with my daughter (read it here) got a lot of comments (mostly on Facebook).  They were interesting comments from both sides of the subject.  Several comments talked of the kindness and generosity that Santa can embody rather than just being the creepy guy watching everyone and one doling out pressies, especially when looking at the life of the real St. Nicholas.  Another said “The difference between Santa and Jesus (religious faith in general) is that hopefully you’re seeing evidence of your beliefs every day.”  I liked this the best.  It’s so true.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Faith in Jesus is different because there is evidence; true evidence, not planted Elves on shelves.  And it is something I didn’t account for in my last post.  Here is an account of evidence in my life:

When I was 10 years old my family drove halfway across the country for a church conference called Warrensburg in Missouri.  It was a gathering of New Frontiers churches, a family of churches we were a part of.  I remember having lots of fun (okay, the road trip was mostly fun) and meeting with God in a very personal way.  I also experienced my first tornado warning and the cafeteria had soft-serve ice cream that you could do yourself.

A few years later I wanted to attend again, mostly because I was now a teen and could go to the way-cool teen meetings.  But my family wasn’t going.  Dilemma.  I started saving my money in the hopes that my parents would let me go without them, chaperoned by someone from our church who would be going.  It was a tall order: saving for a plane ticket, conference fee and spending money.  I probably needed about $300.  I saved Christmas money, birthday money, babysitting money, and I baked cookies to sell at my dad’s work.  (The entrepreneur spirit started early.)  All the money I collected was saved in a small tin bank, tucked in my underwear drawer.  I never counted it.  I just hoped and saved and begged my parents to let me go.

Then one day they called me over.  There were several people from our church going and one couple agreed to be my chaperones.  Dad had looked at plane tickets and found one for $210.50.  If I could come up with that money, my parents would pitch in and pay for the conference registration fee.

Nervously I went upstairs to count my bank.  Would I have that much?  What if I wasn’t even close?  Cookie baking only grossed $5 a day.  After you subtract money for supplies it didn’t leave me with much.
I slowly counted the money.
What?  I better count that again.
I had exactly enough.

The conference itself did not disappoint.  The fun of being somewhere alone, without the rest of my family was a perk; but the encounter with God was the highlight.  Growing up I was an introverted bookworm.  Still am if left to myself.  I didn’t like talking to people, mostly because I thought I would say dumb things, and I walked around looking at the ground most of the time.

After one of the evening meetings I was kneeling, face to the ground when I heard an audible voice: Look up.  So I did, and I saw lots of feet.  I put my face back down.  Look up.
Oh my daughter, look up;
You are the King’s child.
You need not be ashamed.
You were naked and I clothed you.
You are the King’s daughter.  A princess.
Look up! Lift up your face!

God spoke to me.  God spoke to me?  Me?  Personally?  You mean that thing about God knowing each of us intimately and caring for us deeply is true?  Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.
It took time for me to come out of my shell.  To be a bookworm who can look strangers in the eye talk to them.  To learn the art of initiating conversation with questions.  To feel that what I had to say was important because I had thought of it.  Sometimes I’m still learning.

I am a daughter of the King of kings.  I don’t always act like it.  At times I struggle to believe it.  But that doesn’t make it any less true.

Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory!

Psalm 24:7-10

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