By Joseph Ostrander
As the volunteer moderator for the church’s blog, I thought it would be a good idea to let you, the reader, get to know how I process Sunday’s service in a way that translates into something encouraging, and provoking, or food-for-thought for this new blog forum. This is how I experienced Sunday’s corporate gathering:
First: I was the recipient of two amazing words of encouragement that I will need to ruminate on as the Spirit illuminates/expands their implications; 1) I am a pillar to/in the church that meets together as Coastlands Vineyard Church; and 2) I am soon to be in the spotlight—off the bench so-to-speak. Any further insight from the saints reading this will always be appreciated.
Next: during the music/praise/worship portion of the service, Rachel shared a song that had this phrase or context—God’s love is like a hurricane. Say what? I must confess, there are few contemporary Christian worship songs that I find myself singing along with. And this song was definitely not one of them. However, the concept of God’s love like a hurricane did resonate with me personally. During the extremely intense fallout from my divorce and resulting nervous breakdown, I felt God did ‘envelop’ me in a whirlwind—a whirlwind that was both a powerful storm—and a refuge. The whirlwind vacuumed up all the loose clutter of my flimsy faith (down to the foundation), and it also ‘lifted’ off (painfully) some of the stubborn scabs (or residue) that were covering up the guilt and shame of my sin management efforts. You see, I had been scratching at the persistent elements of my psyche that I felt were my personal and spiritual disfigurements; my low self-esteem, my lack of confidence, my personality flaws, and my seemingly lack of obvious skills/talents. God’s whirlwind forced the scabs off those sore spots on my soul and He’s been dealing with them in a greater way these past 6 years than in the first 55-years of my existence. As I looked in my bible’s concordance, I found these scriptures that I could now better appreciate: Nahum 1:3b, “His way is in the whirlwind and the storm…” and also verse 7, “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him…”
The idea of God’s love being like a hurricane was confirmed when Chris mentioned how there is the element of ferocity to God’s love. God’s ferocious anger is kindled against all the sin, woundedness, brokenness, shame and guilt that would keep us bound up, insulated and blinded to His love and mercy…
Scott’s word FREEDOM resonated with this awesome consideration: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” ~Galatians 5:11
And: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” ~John 8:36
Finally, some additional observations to ruminate on: Chris’ opening prayer included the petition for God to ‘unburden’ us. It is something that seems to be impossible when the weight of real worries and concerns will not let us rest. I am reminded of Jesus’ words recorded for us at the end of the 11th chapter of Matthew’s gospel. Let’s revisit them, shall we? “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Notice this: Jesus does not require us to first take off our current burdens. To do so would be intellectually dishonest (denial), and something that we cannot do ourselves. He does offer this curious option though: take upon ourselves another burden, His yoke. Place His yoke upon our already burdened shoulders and learn from Him (or delight ourselves in Him). He is humble, gentle, and very patient. His yoke is easy! His burden is light! I always considered this lightness to be more illumination than heft or weightiness. That’s my perspective anyway.
Think about it…