Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Waiting on God

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Waiting on God

Article excerpt

A story about falling in love with Jesus all over again.

WHEN I FIRST started attending the Church of the Apostles in Fairfax, Va., we had no church building and met in the cafeteria of an elementary school. There were about 50 of us and a brand new priest, Rev. H. Lawrence Scott ("Call me Renny"). It was an Episcopal church in Fairfax County in the 1970s. Really, how much trouble could I get into?

What I didn't know was that it was a charismatic, Bible-believing, tongues-speak- ing church. The praise band led us in worship. We sang and raised our hands. There was speaking in tongues and interpretation.

When I committed my life to Jesus in October 1977,1 was sitting in the living room with Renny and his wife, Margaret. We had lunch. We talked. I disagreed with them about this Jesus stuff. We talked some more, and I was shocked to find myself saying "yes" when Renny asked if I was ready to commit my life to Jesus. I just said sure-then Renny made me pray. I remember walking to the car and having a brief conversation with God, the culmination of which was that I said I would never be a missionary to Africa. It's funny what I thought were the key questions then.

Because I am an all-or-nothing person, I threw myself entirely into this new life. Within a few weeks I was baptized in the Spirit. I went to a Bible study every week. When I heard you were supposed to have a quiet time, I did that religiously. Every morning I sat and waited on God: Bible reading and prayer, other spiritual reading, and index cards to help me remember. Every morning for years I got up very early and met with Jesus in the quiet before dawn. Between my study and the praise songs we sang at church, I learned hundreds of scriptures by heart.

For 20 years I sat in the quiet and waited on God.

My readings changed. My Utmost for His Highest was replaced by Richard Foster. Jim and Elisabeth Elliot gave way to John Boswell. The inerrancy of scripture changed to a reverence and delight in Gods word with- out being quite so rigid, a journey much helped by Rev. Reginald Fuller. My early con- viction that a woman could not be ordained crumbled after a year at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. And through it all, I got up early and waited in the quiet, perhaps for a word from God.

My favorite song then was based on Zephaniah 3:17: "The Lord your God is in your midst / the Lord of Lords who saves / [God] will exalt over you with ... shouts of joy." Over the years I have come to think of God "exalting over us" as dancing over us with love. God dances over us as on a day of festival. The first sermon I preached was about God dancing over us with joy. Truly this is really my only sermon: God loves us and dances over us with joy. I have preached it a thousand times and will keep on preach- ing it as long as I have breath.

I DON'T REALLY remember when I stopped having regular quiet time. Not that I stopped believing in or expecting to con- nect with God; I just stopped getting up early. I continued to preach and celebrate. I continued to hear that people liked my ser- mons. I just let the relationship slide a little. I took things for granted and only sat in quiet when I needed a word to preach, or had an occasional down time. Oh, and my read- ing changed also. Somehow over the years I got hooked on detective novels, particu- larly the works of Elizabeth George, and I loved the Jack Reacher thrillers. The depths of scripture and quiet reflection gave way to murder and mayhem, violence and sex. I was addicted to thrillers.

During this time I did a pretty good job, outside of church, of keeping my faith to myself. In church 1 preached Jesus; I told of the miracles I saw and experienced. But no one would ever have considered me an evangelist. At best, I was reluctant to share my faith. That was probably the nicest thing you could say about my lack of evangelism.

Two years ago something shifted. During summer 2011,1 spent a couple of days with my friends Paul and Mariann Budde in Minneapolis. …

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