Hey, my beloved Siestas!
I am writing you from a bumpy altitude of about 28,000 feet on my way home from the Greensboro, North Carolina Living Proof Live. It’s Sunday early afternoon, a day later than I was scheduled to fly out. When I checked in at the United Airlines’ desk in Greensboro, a screen popped up saying that my itinerary had been altered and asked if I wanted to proceed. I reviewed the itinerary carefully on the screen and compared it to my schedule and could not for the life of me tell any difference. I shrugged my shoulders and carried on with my check-in and never gave it a second thought.
I got to Washington DC for my layover and looked at the screen in the bustling corridor for the gate number to my 5:10 PM flight and that’s when I saw it. My flight was so delayed out of Honolulu (seriously?? straight to DC??) that our earliest departure would be 11:00 PM that night and, best-case-scenario, would land us in Houston at 1:30 AM. That translates to a final home-getting out in the sticks where I live at about 2:45 AM. Hmmm. When I checked at the customer service desk to see if there had been any update on the schedule, the attendant confirmed the bad news as delicately as she could and added that the flight was at risk of cancellation and that, if she were me, she’d switch to a flight the next day and run for my life to a hotel. Otherwise I could get stranded in the middle of the night with no plan. So, that’s what I did. My dear and most excellent assistant, K-Mac, hopped on her computer at home in Houston and started finding me a hotel room nearby while I stood in another line to book this flight and waited for the next 2 hours in baggage claim for them to find my suitcase.
It all sounds worse than it was because Jesus stayed so near me. Typing those words, I could almost cry. He is so gracious. I’ll get to more of that in just a moment. I tried to call my man a couple of times before I made a final decision but couldn’t reach him. I hated the thought that I was going to cancel out of that flight and come home the next day without even letting him know in advance. When you’ve been married as long as we have, a few days pass and it just doesn’t feel right not to be back together. I started to say, “When you’ve been married as long as we have, you get used to one another,” but I said that not long ago to Keith and he looked at me glibly and said, “Lizabeth, I’m used to my underwear. I love my wife. That’s why I want to be with her.” And it made me laugh.
The older we get, I sometimes have the quickest shot of panic go through me when I say bye to him. It’s only on occasion. The rest of the time I keep my wits better about me. But sometimes before I walk out the door I touch his tan face, lined handsomely by the years and Texas sunshine, and I permit myself the moment’s agony, “What if I never saw this face again??” Ugh. Even now that wells a lump in my throat. I know I’ll see him again in heaven and throughout eternity but he’ll have his immortal body and not the one I helped heap a considerable amount of age on. And he’ll be my brother and not my husband.
That’s kind of a game changer.
I left Keith a few voice mails but had been in baggage claim a while after making the final decision when he called me back. Of course, he gave me his blessing and said he’d never want me in a car in Houston after midnight and out to the country at 2:30 in the morning if we could ever help it. I knew he’d say that but I also knew we’d miss each other that next Sunday morning.
“And now,” Keith said, “I don’t even have to feel guilty about going to a sporting clay shoot tomorrow.” That right there is vintage Keith.
“Honey, you still could have gone.”
“Oh, I know, Sweets,” he said, “I was going to go but I’d have to have felt guilty about it.”
I laughed. Just when I’m feeling all gushy about him, we get a fresh reminder that he and I are still mostly oil and vinegar (not saying which is which because that depends on the day) but at least we like being bottled up together. Yep. Almost all the time these days.
God was so good to us in Greensboro and so spared us the strivings of the flesh with the fullness of His Spirit that I very much did not want to get a bad attitude about the flight drama and 2-hour suitcase search. I also knew that, once I told Sabrina and K-Mac that I was stuck, they were liable to shake their heads as the wonderful, responsible coworkers they are and think again that it’s not the best idea for me to go alone. This is a loving discussion (from all sides) that comes back to the table again and again. They are so dear to me. I have no idea what I’d do without them. The thing is, I love traveling alone. It tends to offer me the strongest sense of Christ’s presence and often seems to amplify His voice to me about the message. But it can on occasion have a challenging side.
This was not really one of them. I laugh every now and then with Sabrina that no matter who she could send with me, I’d have more travel experience than any helper would by about 20 years. I say that laughing. At this point, I am fairly well versed in the airline drill as much as a civilian can be. And I truly do love to fly the friendly skies. Our compromise is that I go alone on a LifeWay event (like Living Proof Live) because they have an incredibly good and familiar system once I land in that city but that, if I’m heading to any other event, I take an assistant. Of course, all that is more than you want to know but I am stuck on this long plane ride and in the mood to talk to somebody. And you’re the one stuck with me.
About an hour and 45 minutes into the wait in baggage claim, I did almost feel like crying for a split second because I’m so completely drained after an LPL and couldn’t yet see rest in sight. I texted Amanda and Melissa and asked them to press in and pray a smile on my face a bit longer. They did.
And I ended up getting more than a smile. Right after that, the United agent in baggage claim told me they’d finally found the suitcase and it would be down in 15 minutes. It was. I cheered when I saw it, both fists in the air, and the agent grinned.
By the time I got to the curb, I’d missed the hotel shuttle by a few minutes and would have to wait another thirty minutes for the next one. I grabbed a cab instead. After checking into the hotel (at a good rate, thank you, Expedia.com), I took the elevator to the fifth floor, and began wheeling my cute, light blue briefcase and big ole suitcase down the hall. That’s when I got tickled. Out loud. I may have even bent over laughing. Our subject matter in Greensboro had revolved strongly around increasing our time in the “secret place” with Jesus. I had told them that I was exhilarated by the challenge and could not wait to get started into a deeper secrecy with Him. Let me just say, Jesus took me up on it. Immediately. I had all evening with Him then all the next morning with Him. Just the two of us. We ate dinner together. Well, we sat at the same table is what I mean. I think He was fasting. But He was fine company indeed.
(That’s gorgonzola on that beef medallion and the sides are fresh spinach and fried polenta. It was fabulous, especially because I was really hungry.)
I missed Bayou City Fellowship and my brothers and sisters at church so much this morning but, thanks to podcasts, got to have my own church service right there in the hotel room. With Jesus. By myself.
Then I got on this plane, got into the air, put my headphones on and listened to “Crown Him with Many Crowns” (the Chris Tomlin, and Kari Jobe remix on the Burning Lights CD) and cried over the pure awesomeness of this One who saved us by His own blood. It’s always awkward to cry on a plane with a stranger in the next seat touching elbows with you. I opened to the Book of Revelation in my red soft leather Bible and read the passages about crowns cast at His feet and crowns placed upon His head.
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who is seated on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for You created all things,
and by Your will they existed and were created.”
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems, and He has a name written that no one knows but Himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which He is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following Him on white horses.
The words kept echoing, “Worthy are You!”
It’s almost more than my heart can bear. Amid the brevity of this vaporous earthly life, we will all soon see the face of the One who is so worthy of our worship and the priority affections of our hearts and the focused attentions of our minds. The One worthy of our faith when we cannot see our way. Worthy of our taking the way of escape when temptation beckons us into a whirlpool. The One worthy of gracing others because He has forgiven us at so high a price. The One worthy of counting on when the world calls us fools. The One worthy of taking at His glorious Word.
Don’t you on occasion find it slack-jawing astonishing that this same Jesus seeks us out and wants to be with us? It’s happened to you just like it’s happened to me. If you’ve known Him long, you’ve unexpectedly found yourself alone and lonely only to realize that He has temporarily isolated you just to be with you. And you realize you’ve never been less alone in your life.
Most of the time I accept the thought of His pursuit of us with genuine appreciation but with a certain amount of familiarity. I’ve read it enough in Scripture to believe it and receive it and want it in the worst way and enough to feel weird and worried if I go too long without sensing it. Other times, I’m thrown facedown over the wonder of it. I’m there right now. All of us in this community get why we should yearn and press past every obstacle to get to a place alone with Jesus but, seriously, why on earth would He yearn to do the same with humans? It’s just too much to wrap my mind around sometimes.
“He yearns jealously over the spirit that He has made to dwell in us.” James 4:5
Sister, Jesus is hemming you in. If He’s backed you into a corner, it’s not to isolate you but to freshly exhilarate you. He loves you. He’s seeking you out. Slow down and let yourself be caught by this holy jealous-for-you love that will not let you go. We are not just tolerated. We didn’t make it in by the skin of our teeth. We have been planned for and pursued. We are the deep desire of Someone’s heart.
Did you think I’d forgotten why we’re on here today? Smiling.
Nope. It’s just taken me a while to hash out my selection this time around. I know we’re supposed to stick mostly to one verse each 2-week period but I just can’t help myself. Some things can’t be sliced up with a knife and fork and taste the same way on a tongue.
Beth, Houston. 3 When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, 4 what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him? 5 Yet You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have given him dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet. Psalm 8:3-6 ESV
You, Lord, YOU crowned us??? What were You thinking?? You have multiplied, O Lord my God, Your wondrous deeds and Your thoughts toward us; none can compare with You!” Psalm 40:5
Jesus, we long for the day when You will split the sky like the veil before the Holy of Holies and bound through the heavens on horseback, Your crimson robe whipping in the wind behind You. Every eye will see Your glorious face. And on Your head will be many diadems.
Crown Him with many crowns.
Awake, my soul, and sing.
Let’s have those verses, you Scripture-memorizing women of God.
Tags: Scripture Memory 2013