Monday, November 17, 2008

Wonderous Weekend...

This past weekend I was at a convention for my bible study group (Protestant Women of the Chapel --or PWOC). It is a group set up for women who are in or married to the military. It was an amazing, eye and heart opening experience. If you're a Christian, you've certainly been somewhere that when you walked in you could sense the presence of the Holy Spirit -- He was there this weekend. He was there BIG.

Our speaker was Lisa Harper. She was incredibly down to earth, open about her flaws, and incredibly personable. She told two stories that REALLY really touched my heart.

The first was her take on the story of Jesus, the Pharisees and the adulteress woman. Do you know the story? It's from John Chapter 8 1-12:

1But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all of the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. 3Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. and when they had set her in the midst, 4they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say? 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though he did not hear. 7So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let them throw a stone at her first." 8And again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

You've all heard that line from Jesus. But that wasn't necessarily what she was preaching. There is a HUGE act of mercy in this story, and it isn't even that after he said that everyone left without one stone being thrown. Lisa said this: Imagine this woman, who thought she loved a man (who should have been thrown in with her, wasn't), was caught IN THE ACT, which meant she was not wearing much, and if anything, she only had a blanket to cover herself. All the eyes of the crowd were on her. She was feeling betrayed because the man she thought she loved had not been charged (and was perhaps involved) in this situation. People were staring at her, she wasn't covered, and she was guilty of a sin. Instead of rebuking her, Jesus knelt down to write on the ground with His finger. Everyone in the crowd (remember -- he was teaching so there were LOTS of people there to see this) looked at him after the Pharisees threw her before Him to see what he was going to do. And he held their attention by doing nothing but drawing on the ground as though He didn't hear. THAT, my friends, just as Lisa said, was an act of mercy. It gave her one second, during the most humiliating moment of her life, when everyone was watching, of privacy. A moment, where she could re-adjust her blanket to ensure that she was covered. A moment when no one was looking at her anymore.

I can't tell the story as well as Lisa did, but it sincerely touched my heart, knowing that Our Lord is so merciful, and knows exactly what we are going through. He knows exactly when and how to extend that mercy to the people who follow Him, even when they've made a mistake and done the wrong thing.

The other story she told touched me even more deeply and even more personally than that. She was illustrating an example of how much God loves us and how He knows how we need to feel that. Her story was about her step-father, whom she loved and adored. Her real father wasn't reliable -- really, he wasn't much of a father. (hmm. Sound familiar?) She was out with her step-father at the mall and they met a group of women that he worked with years ago and hadn't seen in a while. She stood there as they talked, stiff, wondering how the situation was going to play out and what he was going to say about her. When one of the women took notice of the little girl standing next to him she said "Well, I'll be! She looks JUST LIKE YOU!"

Now. If you're like me... You've been in situations that are similar to this. You wonder what your step-father is going to say.. "Oh no, she's not mine.... She's my step-daughter." You start sweating and your heart races, and thoughts go through your mind, and you wonder. How much does he really love me.

Her step-father's answer was to turn to her pull her chin up so he could examine her face. He paused, and said "Yes. Yes, she does." That acceptance, the little tiny phrase that probably didn't mean much to that man, meant the entire world to that little girl.

It means more than anything else in the world, when you don't have a 'real' father. When your step-father is tested in such a way, when he could easily explain away that you are not his, but only a step-child, brought to him through marriage. One he cares about sure, but not HIS. The love that is given when you, as a step-child, are acknowledged as just a 'daughter' is truly the greatest gift a "step" father could ever extend to a "step" child. And yes, my step-father always introduces me as his daughter. And it means more to me than he'll ever be able to understand.

That kind of love, that kind of mercy, again is the kind of love our Heavenly Father has for us. We are His. We are not his step-children, we belong to him. No matter when you think you don't have a Father, or that you don't fit in -- you do. Even if you don't have a merciful step-parent who is able to make you feel so a part of his life, you are a part of His life.


Samantha said...

I am glad you had such a good and spiritual time. I love those moments when it seems like a speaker is speaking right to you. It is nice to be reminded of how much our Heavenly Father loves each of us as His children and knows us individually.

Ashlee said...

So did you just cry the whole time. I would have. Those stories are wonderful and thought provoking. So glad you were able to go.