Last night I was given the opportunity to speak and draw at Flat Rock. Many of you know how much I love this old place. The first time I set foot there I felt like I was “home.” I have fallen in love with the people there and God has placed them in my heart in a way that I cannot explain. I don’t know what God is up to but I sure know that I want to be a part of it. He keeps drawing me back to Flat Rock and only He knows the reason. I trust in Him to show me His plan in His time.
The drawing shows an arch that I saw while in Slovakia. It also shows a shovel, pickaxe, buckets of “stuff” and a path that leads to the cross. We cannot make our way to the cross with the heavy burdens of life. We must empty our buckets at the foot of the cross so we can travel lightly and freely to Jesus. Let HIM carry it! Everything is on the outside of the arch because we cannot enter into communion with our Creator until we let go of our stuff. It takes much hard work, persistence and perseverence to get there and we are all on the journey together. Each helping the other.
The two songs I have posted are the songs I played while I was drawing. They both have great significance to Flat Rock. ( and many other places!) In order to understand the first song you need to know that the road to Flat Rock is long, narrow and winding. Flat Rock sits at the top of a mountain and overlooks Grayson County. Absolutely beautiful! The only place to turn around IS Flat Rock. So remember this when you listen to the song. I encourage YOU to take a minute and converse with our magnificent Creator. Enjoy the post.
Forever In His service,
My message from last night goes like this…
Good Evening! It is so wonderful to be here again! When Pastor Terri brought me here last year, I fell in love with this beautiful old church. I feel God’s presence here and each time I enter through these doors God speaks to me about Isaiah 40. “ Comfort, comfort my people says YOUR God. Speak tenderly and softly to her…” I brought a friend of mine here a few weeks ago and as we knelt here at the rail to pray she reminded me of all of the hands, tears and burdens that have been left right here in front of us. If you look closely, the rail is worn, yet beautiful in its aging patina. People enter this place and are compelled by the Holy Spirit to lay down their burdens, to empty their buckets, buckets that are filled with the debris of life. Broken, dirty and smelly.
Last October I took my first mission trip to Slovakia. You may know that the Wytheville District was in a partnership relationship with the Methodist church there. 2009 was the last year of that partnership. I was blessed to be a part of that team and to experience the rich heritage of Slovakia. The funny thing about the trip was that I thought I was going to “teach them something!” God has a wonderful sense of humor! Most people think that the mission is for the other person- when it is really for YOU! Today I strive to see what others are teaching me rather than what I can teach them. God humbled me on this mission trip and I expect He will humble me even more along my journey. In fact, I welcome it!
So, what does this have to do with Flat Rock? Well, the day that Terri brought me here we sat on that old bench outside and prayed and cried together at the foot of the cross. God spoke Isaiah 40 to me. That next week I spent some time here, alone, walking the grounds and praying the words of Isaiah 40 out loud-praying for all of you. Little did I know that I would see these very words again 6 months later and 3000 miles away. I had no plans to go on a mission trip anywhere at anytime. But God did.
One of the first things we did upon arriving in Slovakia was to visit the church. It was around the corner from our hostel. We met in the “mission center” which is located near the church in another building. As we went down the worn stairs, I thought about all the people that had been there before us. We stepped into the room and there was this huge banner hanging over the doorway that said, “ Comfort, Comfort my people” Isaiah 40 in Slovak. I can’t read Slovak but I knew what that said. I confirmed it with our translator.
My mind brought me right back here… to Flat Rock. I knew that God was speaking. How could it not be God? Here I was in a foreign land, 3000 miles away, in a mission center of the United Methodist Church in Slovakia. The similarities between Flat Rock and the church there fascinate me. Both places have suffered change and upheaval and healing. Both are sanctuaries for the lost. Flat Rock is a feeding station, the same way the mission center is. Both feed the physical needs, the spiritual needs and the emotional needs of the people in both communities- 3000 miles apart. One of the things about them both is that God put it on my heart to pray for you just as he convicted the hearts of every member of our mission trip that the church in Slovakia needed our encouragement and prayers more than anything else. That was our mission. We were their prayer warriors, just as I have been yours.
Colossians 1 says this:
9-12Be assured that from the first day ( I) we heard of you, ( I) we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. ( I) We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. ( I) We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. “
One of our jobs there was to clean the basement of the church. Yeah, I know what you are thinking- you went 3000 miles to clean a basement? Well, it wasn’t quite the same as a basement here. These buildings are 5 and 600 years old-some even older than that. This particular basement was filled with junk and debris that had been left behind for a long time. It was also filled with silt, dirt, bricks, broken glass, pipes, and a myriad of other stuff. The dirt alone was a foot deep. The “dungeon” as I called it was deep, dark, dank and smelly. We had to descend about 25 steps down into the dungeon and when you got down there the stench was overwhelming. Mold, mildew and dirt. Not beautiful or bright. As we worked in the dungeon I was reminded, over and over again, of what Apostle Paul must have had to endure during his many imprisonments. The windows were high, at street level, and dirty-allowing very little light through to the room below. The only way to get the dirt out was to remove it one shovel full at a time. So we a bucket brigade. So both teams ( Slovak and American) lined the steps and we began chipping away at the dirt. As we did this, we would sing and teach each other new words in Slovak and English. It was extremely hard work- but the most gratifying work I have ever done.
As we worked together, hauling full buckets up the stairs and bringing empty ones back down, I began to see how God was working on me. I had some dirt in my life that I had to empty out in order to be bright and beautiful. As we filled and emptied each bucket I began to see how God does that in our lives. He uses tools, such as a shovel and a pickaxe, people, circumstances, and experience to chip away all dirt. Then it is up to us to empty our buckets at the foot of the cross. The same way we were cleaning this dungeon. One bucket at a time, with strength, persistence, patience and perseverance. It also requires commitment and devotion to complete the task at hand. We couldn’t let the stench get to us, we had to overcome the stench.
( 2 Tim: 1:7) God has given us a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. We are to be overcomers and with Christ helping us, we can be.
The only way we can overcome our struggles is to place them at the foot of the cross. We are all on a journey that leads to God. We all need help. We all need a shovel, a pickaxe and a bucket. We can’t keep the junk in our lives and expect to make it very far. It gets heavy and weighs us down. We must empty our buckets of junk right here at the cross. Once we do, we will feel lighter, we will feel free and we will be able to soar like wings on eagles. It still won’t be easy, but I can guarantee you that God will be right here to help you. So whatever you are dealing with in your lives, let Jesus carry it.
Let me close by saying that the basement in Slovakia was transformed into something beautiful and bright by lots of prayer, hard work, persistence and perseverance. It didn’t happen overnight, nor did it happen on its own. It took a team of unified believers to complete the task, working together, side by side, each person making a personal sacrifice to be there – to see the job through. God sacrificed His one and only begotten Son for us- he rescued us from our own dark dungeons and He rose again to give us life. God is doing the same thing here at Flat Rock. He has brought a team of believers to this beautiful place to work side by side, making personal sacrifices along the way, to lift high the cross of Christ on this mountaintop, to let the light shine for all to know that this is a safe place, a sanctuary where lost souls can meet their Creator in person. Today the basement in Slovakia is a prayer room- a room filled with the beautiful bright light of Jesus Christ. Jesus is right here and he’s waiting for you to empty your buckets of dirt at his feet. Will YOU come? As I draw and play some music, please listen to the lyrics of the songs- I think you will hear Jesus speaking… I encourage you to come, and kneel and talk with the One who loves you…