“My Father’s Joy”

Tonight I went to a Tuesday night prayer and worship service that is held at North Cleveland Church of God (a church that is right off campus). I look forward to Tuesday nights because I have the opportunity to pray and worship with brothers and sisters who are very much alive in Christ and excited about what God is doing in Cleveland. Tuesdays are a time that I get to sink into my pentecostal roots for an hour or two, which I love, and soak up the fire of God all around me. So, ya. I love Tuesdays. 

This Tuesday was a little different, though. Today was a snow day *hooray*. Side note- it was awesome. We came. We played. We conquered…. Today in the prayer tower of North Cleveland, the energy was lacking. Our awesome leaders, who are so sensitive and receptive to the Spirit, decided that today, instead of praying, we needed a little bit of time to be filled. So, for forty-five minutes we worshipped and prayed and soaked up all of The Lord’s goodness. 

It is so amazing how when we open ourselves up to Him, He can just wreck us. He wrecked me. He wrecked me with the truth that I am His delight, His joy, His beloved. He wrecked me, when He showed me that I always have been. The coolest part of mine and God’s little date tonight, was when I finally drew a connection between Isaiah 62 and something as personal to myself as my name. 

Abigail: “My father’s joy”, “Joy of the father”

As I grew up I always cherished the meaning of my name. I delighted to think that my daddy really wanted me named Abigail, because I was his girl, and he really did take joy in me. This is so true, and has always been very special to me. However, it wasn’t until recently that my eyes were opened to the full implications of “Abigail.” I am the joy of my heavenly Father. I carry with me the joy of my heavenly Father. He delights in me. He delights in me. 

And you will be called something new, something brand new,
    a name given by none other than the Eternal One.
And you will be the crowning glory of the Eternal’s power,
    a royal crown cradled in His palm and held aloft by your God for all to see.
People won’t talk about you anymore
    using words like “forsaken” or “empty.”
Instead, you will be called “My delight” and the land around you “Married,”
    because the Eternal is pleased with you and has bound Himself to your land.
As a young man marries the woman he loves,
    so your sons will marry you, Jerusalem.
As a groom takes joy in his bride,
    so your God will take joy in you. 

Isaiah 62:2-5  The Voice Translation

As I re-read this scripture, I cannot contain the smile that is stretching across my face. The same promise that God made with Israel is the same promise that He makes with me and you. This declaration of love is for all people. There is not one who is not invited to this joy. Come and be filled. Open up your heart one more time and let its creator wreck you. 

“Why Turn Down?”

Recently, some of my friends have morphed the trending phrase “Turn down for what?!” into the much funnier (in my opinion, and for no apparent reason) “Why turn down?”

Last week was rough for me. I was reminded that school is work. Balancing school, God, friends, and sleeping is tricky. When you mix in freezing cold weather, cafeteria food (yum…), and the lack of other comfortable living conditions, you can come down with a pretty tough case of home-sickness. I can’t believe I’m actually admitting this, but I got to really missing home. So, on my last string, I did a pretty good job of concealing my agony and put on a smile, because after all who is Abigail Hewins if not obnoxiously positive? Then, on Thursday night, I lost my phone. Suddenly such a small, insignificant thing as this broke me open and I freaked out and called my mom and decided that despite the plans I made that weekend, I HAD TO GO HOME. Well. Guess who didn’t go home this weekend?

It was great. All of a sudden “pushing through” and “pressing forward” turned into dancing and skipping and most of all being. I celebrated the birthdays of two of my good friends, I was drenched in the beauty of God’s creation, and I worshipped. “Why turn down?” Why would I let the bleak spots in life hinder me from fully living? I know a Light that makes sense out of the bleakness. I know a joy that causes me to celebrate at all times, because I am alive. “Why turn down?” 

The best part of all of this is that I am still going home this coming weekend. I can have my cake and eat it too. Thank you, Father for friends and family, and for the love that you have so generously lavished upon me. Thank God for something today, even if you have 12 million more things to complain about. “Why turn down?!”

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Waiting for Appointing Day

I. hate. waiting.

All you old folks can blame it on my technology obsessed, information overloaded generation if you must. I can just hear it now… “With all your twitters and internets you kids can’t appreciate the value of a good conversation. We used to have great conversation when we walked barefoot in foot deep snow, uphill both ways to school every day.” Maybe I should stop here, I could go on forever. I digress. 

All I know is that whether its waiting for my latte at Starbucks or waiting for my grades to be posted online (theres those internets again), I hate waiting. With this in mind, these last 4 to 5 months have been tough for me. I came into college with a seemingly great plan for myself, motivated by the distinct calling of God. Alas, one after another all my plans were shattered. I think that if I was counting, I may have actually exceeded “Plan Z”. What the heck are you supposed to do with that?! The answer for me was… . The answer for me is… Waiting. 

This past weekend I had the privilege of attend the Passion Conference in Atlanta. For those of you unfamiliar with Passion, it is an annual gathering (20,000 this year) of young men and women between 18 and 25, joined together to worship Jesus and sent out to change the world. Christine Cane, of the Hillsong church from Australia, spoke for one of the sessions. She. Was. Incredible. During her talk she shared something that I found very relevant to my life right now. She shared the story of the young shepherd boy, David being anointed as the King of Israel. Most of us are familiar with the story. I am. I was when she began sharing it, however maybe for the first time I realized something. The time that God anointed David was not the same time that He appointed David. 

Imagine knowing that you were God’s chosen ruler over his chosen people, but not being able to do anything about it for roughly 30 years. Just to refresh your memories, David was anointed by Samuel when he was a teenager. He did not achieve full reign over Israel and Judah for three decades. For these three decades, God worked on developing an appointed David. He endured trails, resisted the opportunity to kill the one man standing between him and the throne. He was trained in battle. We see through the Psalms the growth in his walk with the Lord. It wasn’t until the ruddy shepherd boy allowed the Lord God to completely prepare him for his task that he assumed his duties. 

The best part of this story to me, however, is hidden. Not only did David wait, but he lived fully and abundantly in the in-between. He never once took for granted the place that God had him. He didn’t neglect the small things, simply because he knew that someday he would be royal *starts humming Lorde song*. But in all seriousness…

God has anointed me to do great things, He has told me. Until my appointing day I will be David. I will sit by the quiet waters. He will restore my soul. 

 

“The Funerals are Over”

It has just been my dad and I at home the last couple of nights and let me tell you, we can watch some movies. There is just something that my family admires about a good movie, a good one liner, our “old faithfuls”. So, not to my surprise, I came home this evening to my dad in almost complete darkness (I’ll never understand that), watching a movie we have seen no less than 20 times, We Are Marshall. 

For the 21st time I watched the plot progress, the plane crash, a new coach, struggling players, your basic underdog, feel good football story. For the 21st time tonight, I heard the moving pep talk around the burial sight of the six deceased players, but this time something stood out. This time when the camera slowly moved around the downcast, rag tag team of 20 year olds what Matthew McConaughey spoke clicked, first in my head, then in my heart. “Funerals end today.” 

This is what God has been teaching me recently. Even though I know that I have a great Savior, who has fully redeemed me and washed me white as snow, I struggle with seeing what he sees in me. I dwell on my failure. I torture myself, replaying that time that I didn’t see my name on the list. I have spent so many wasted months and years regretting choices I’ve made instead of just making better ones. I’ve been wearing black for too long. “Funerals end today.”

In John chapter 5, Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath. This particular man had been attending his own “funeral” for thirty-eight years. He sat by the pool of Bathesda just waiting and hoping that one day an angel of the Lord would come down to stir the waters, and he would be healed. For thirty-eight years the man sat in the sun, begging, and mourning his situation. On this Sabbath day, when Jesus approached the man He could have just said, “Be healed.” He could have looked in his direction and the man would be restored to his youth, completely healthy. Jesus could have thrown a pity party for the man, he could have cried with him and worshipped his unfortunate situation, but He didn’t. Instead, He asks a question, “Do you want to be healed?” It seems like a no brainer, anyone would assume that the man wanted to be restored, that was his life. But, it was a valid question, then and now. 

Sometimes, I think that God in His great love and incredible understanding, asks me, “Do you even want to be healed?” And that moment when I finally realize how long I’ve been wearing sackcloth and ashes, he says “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And, I walk. His mercies are new every morning. The funerals are over. Praise God, the funerals are over.