Friday, January 16, 2015

Embracing the Burden

While there are
plenty of things
I don't like about the amazing
advances in technology
and our increased
ability to communicate,
I take full advantage
of the beauty
of those advances

Every morning
I spend an hour or so
listening and learning
from messages
posted online
by a variety of churches.

One of them is
North Point Church
in Atlanta
where Andy Stanley is pastor.

It took me a while
to find my place
as a student of
Andy's teaching
but I'm there now.

This is a favorite thought
which recently
resonated with me
in a powerful way.

One of these days
when the time is right
and my puzzle pieces are fitted
just a wee bit tighter
corners secure,
I'll tell you about the burden on my heart.
Not today. 

let me tell you how
an Iowa girl
came to listen and learn
with the congregation of
North Point Church
in Atlanta, Georgia.

My dearest, sweet
and much-adored mentor
Judy W
used to say to me
in her slight Southern drawl
if you love Dr. Charles Stanley
you absolutely MUST
listen to his son, Andy."
First thing:
No, my name isn't Meggie.
She called me that
because she thought
(don't choke here, I have no clue why)
I looked like Meg Ryan
the first time we met
when taking a shared class
on the University of Denver campus.

(Sorry Judy. Not even in dim light on a cloudy day.
I blurred sweet Meggie up a bit and hid behind a weed, too.
Nope. No resemblance, gurrrrrrl. None.)
You just muuuuuuuuuust
listen to his sermons.
Oh darling girl,
he is sooooooo much better
than his Daddy and you knowwwwwww
how I love his Daddy!"
Second thing:
Yes, Judy was a cherished friend and mentor.
No, I had no inclination to
follow this particular advice
because her description
sorta made me think of some
young kid
standing up in front of a congregation
hot-dogging on his Daddy's coat tails
and I had no interest
in entertaining
sort of sideshow.
Yeah, that's really what I thought.
Shame on me.
Shame on me for not trusting my Judy
who was to be trusted
in all things
if anyone at all
can ever be trusted.
But on this count,
I just ignored her advice.
I liked Dr. Charles Stanley.
Loved him, actually.
I'd listened to him on the radio
for years.
No reason to
go in search
of his kid.
Fast-forward a few years.
My precious friend
went home to be with the Lord
years ago after a brave
battle with cancer.
I miss her terribly.
Actually I still write her emails now and then.
And no, I don't think she's checking them out
from heaven.
And I honestly don't know
what happens to our email boxes
when we die.
But our friendship lived
mostly on computer screens
and email pages
since she lived in Colorado
and I lived in Iowa.
It just seems natural to
continue chatting with her
by email
now and then.
I miss her
and credit her with
teaching me so many many things
and serving as a treasured
and much-revered mother figure
in my adult life.
This summer
quite unexpectedly
I came face to face
with some heart challenges
which required the
serious stretching of my
faith muscles.
I thought I was pretty good on the
faith treadmill
but a few intense miles
reminded me
my spirit was in need of
deeper conditioning.
Seeking to
deepen my
of God's Word
and his direction in my life
I reflected on
the wisdom shared with me
through the years
by wise friends
as I sought direction
and a stronger faith
to rely on
as I walked
some unexpected paths
of confusion
and challenge.
In the midst of it
I heard Judy's sweet voice
urging me to listen and learn from
her favorite pastor on earth:
Andy Stanley.
Years after her
gentlest of persuasion,
I gave in to the urging
of that dear voice.
I went looking for Andy.
I'm so glad I did.
He's a wonderful speaker
I love his scripture-based messages
which I find
feed my soul
pique my interest to learn more
and help satisfy my longing to grow
deeper in my
walk with Jesus.
I am so very, very thankful for North Point Church
from whose platform he (and others) preach.
I'm thankful
Sunday service messages
from North Point Church services
are available online.
And I'm so thankful to my
dear Judy for hounding me
over and over
and over
to listen. 
Miss you, dear one.
I'm listening.
I'm learning.

Most recently I went through a 2-part series called
Killin' It.

Y'oughta give a listen.
Click below.
And I hope the messages
bless your heart
like they did mine.

North Point Church / Killin' It Series

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