Monday, August 25, 2014

In A Snapshot

When I was a child I received as a gift from my parents on my birthday a Kodak Instamatic camera. It was marketed as a camera to fit into your pocket easily.  I thought it was cool, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was still in my father's house.  My mother, particularly, was excited to give it to me.  She was the one in the family to fill photo albums and document our growing up years.  I didn't take full advantage of having that camera, but I did take a few pictures.  A few made it into some album some place. 

In what has become my discipline, I read the Daily Office scriptures from the Book of Common Prayer not too long ago.  There was a thread that ran through the passages I read that united them in my spirit.  First, Psalm 147: 10-11:  His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner; but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.  Second, Mark 6: 5-6: And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.  

As I read these two passages, I pictured in a snapshot what was described.  In a snapshot, a horse performs with strength; a runner runs fast, but God's people fear him and hope in his steadfast love.  The Lord takes pleasure not in a strong horse or fast runner but in those who hope in him.  A snapshot  captures and records the image and the moment in time.  Psalm 147 captures the Lord's pleasure in a moment.  His pleasure is found in what his children are doing and believing in an instant while the horse works and runner sprints.  We may give acclaim to what a beast of burden can do and what the athlete can achieve.  This is what humans value.  The Lord of all values, takes pleasure in the spiritual focus of his children's hope in their God's unrelenting love for them. 

The citizens of Jesus' hometown in Mark 6 were astounded and then offended at what Jesus did on one sabbath in Nazareth.  On that same day, he was amazed at their unbelief.  This is not a snapshot, but it’s a solitary day where Jesus declared and manifested the Kingdom of God among people he's probably known all his life.  In this day, they shift from being amazed to being offended.  Jesus could only do a little because of their unbelief.  In this solitary day, they were amazed at his insight but offended at him.  In a day they're offered a taste of heaven, and in the same day they rejected who brought it to them. 

I also read the 11 verses of Revelation 4.  The apostle John sees in a vision worship taking place in heaven.  In a snapshot or a series of moments in Revelation, there is worship by the four living creatures and the 24 elders before the One seated on the throne.  It's not over a span of time extended but a series of rich moments depicting an awesome display of worship that eclipses any worship display on earth by those who value strong horses and virile athletes.   

April and I attended worship recently at Word Alive International Outreach.   Kent, the lead pastor, didn't preach in the service we attended.  Instead, he followed the leading of the Holy Spirit.  There were a handful of new believers' baptisms scheduled.  In the midst of immersing new believers in their portable baptismal pool Kent spoke to the congregation and invited anyone who sensed the Lord's prompting to declare a new found faith in Jesus as Lord to come forward and be baptized.  In a snapshot, in a series of moments, on a solitary day, we witnessed over 20 immersions of children, teenagers and adults followed by applause and cheers after every believer disappeared under the surface.  It. Was. Glorious.  In a snapshot, we all believed people's lives were changed by the grace, mercy, truth & power of God that met them as they arose from the water with new life.  Alleluia. 

The prophet Isaiah wrote about what the actions of God would look like in bringing the covenant people from Babylonian bondage in a snapshot, in a series of moments, in a day. 
Who has heard of such a thing?  Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day?  Shall a nation be delivered in one moment? Yet as soon as Zion was in labor she delivered her children. Shall I open the womb and not deliver?  says the Lord; shall I, the one who delivers, shut the womb?  says your God.  -- Isaiah 66: 8-9 

Things do happen in a series of moments, in a day and can be captured for posterity in a snapshot.  Quite often, those snapshots don't end up in an album, but, rather in our hearts and memories.  It is the will and way of God to impact us in a moment with eternal ramifications.   

Seeds are planted and develop over time into plants that produce their own seeds.  This is a sound biblical metaphor that captures a picture of the Kingdom.  Just as valuable a picture in understanding the Kingdom of God, where and how God dwells, is the image of a nation being born in a day, a hometown experiencing heaven coming to earth and an awesome worship experience unequaled by any liturgically orchestrated service found in a church nearby. 

What can happen to us in an instant, in a day when God is honored first in our hearts above all things?  What can happen when we hear a gracious invitation to trust in our God all over again and respond in word or deed by faith?  Our very nature and view of this world that God so loves can and will change.  In a snapshot, in a  moment, in a solitary day.

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