A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to participate in a Holy Week service on Tuesday, April 3rd. Every morning at 6:30 am our church had a 15-20 minute service. The United Methodist Women were in charge of the Tuesday service and I offered to share a devotion.
It was scarier than I thought it would be.
I'm not sure why I felt this way, but I did.
Here's what I shared...
I would say Good Morning to all of you, but I have trained my children that anything before 7 am is still the middle of the night so I will wait until after this service to wish you all a good morning. So for now I'll say Good Evening.
I am Beth Shook and I graduated college with a public communications degree so standing up in front of all of you doesn't bother me but having to share any kind of devotion is down right frightening. You see, I don't really have a story to share. Or at least for many years I didn't think I had a story to share. But, through some personal reflection I have become more aware that I actually do have a story.
When I was 6 weeks old I had to have emergency surgery on Thanksgiving for pyloric stenosis which is a problem with a muscle between the stomach and the small intestine. Before the surgeon could do the surgery my parents have me baptized by our minister in the hospital. I think if you asked my parents today they would probably agree that they didn't think I wouldn't go to heaven if something happened to me but it was 1970 and that's what you did back then.
And this is where my story begins.
With my parents who are extremely faithful Christians. I grew up going to church every Sunday. That's just what we did. My father worked in college athletics and even when we traveled to away football and basketball games and got home very late we still went to church on Sunday. My Mom was hard core when my brother and I were little and there wasn't such a thing as a "church" bag. You may have seen me dragging a church bag around on Sunday's and it contains goodies like crayons, coloring books, books to read, and if you don't tell David Betteridge, the occasional snack. My parents didn't believe in any form of church entertainment so my brother and I use to pass the time circling all the vowels in the bulletin and memorizing the hymnal. For years my favorite hymn was This is my Father's World. All through elementary, junior and senior high school church was a very important part of my life. We went to Sunday school, my Dad taught my senior high class, I was active in UMYF and was president my senior year. I am truly blessed to have parents who took me to church every week.
But, I believe that it is because I have known how Jesus has impacted my life for so long that I sometimes need a "sign" or a moment to remind me the presence of God in my life. I have never wanted to purposely take that presence for granted but I know that I have.
If we fast forward to post college I was a working gal who was still trying to figure out my place in the world when I had one of those distinct moments. I was dating this guy who really, really wanted me to be serious with him and I wasn't quite ready for that. I had tired the polite tactics and he just wasn't getting them. So I had to break up with him and ask him not to call anymore. I felt bad but was sure life would go on. I went to bed one night and had this vision I guess you might call it, it was more than a dream, and God specifically told me that I was acting ridiculous and I was missing the best thing that was going to happen in my life. I woke up that morning and knew from the bottom of my heart that I had to do everything I could to win him back. I guess you could call it a success because tomorrow we will be married 14 years. God knew exactly the man to send to me and my heart swells with love for him. Mike was truly a gift to me from God. I know this from the bottom of my heart and I feel so blessed to share my life with someone who feels the exact same way I do about our God. He was raised just like me, going to church faithfully every Sunday, and together we our raising our children the same way.
Mike and I decided to take the latest Alpha Class together and this past Sunday's video especially spoke to me.
In Revelation chapter 3 verse 20 it says:
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
The image that was shown in the video was of a door with no handle. One would think how do I open a door with no handle? But, what we need to do is invite Jesus in our lives because he will push open the door for us. God promised us this and dares us to believe him. Push open the door and let Jesus in. I have been blessed to have Jesus as a constant in my life for many years. I now strive to keep that door open,to know that he is always with me, and to share with others the good news that he died for us so that we may have eternal life.
I may have needed the occasional sign in my life to know what has been right in front of me, but there is no sign needed to know that on Sunday we celebrate the greatest gift we as Christians have been given - the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour. As the hymn we sang earlier says "All I have needed Thy hand hath provided; Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.