After leaving Nashville, TN., years ago, I said that I would never move back. There was something in the water that everyone was drinking and I was no longer interested in being a part of the mass chugging. Out of every couple that we knew closely, only one remained married. There were affairs, massive alcohol abuse, drug use, extreme competitiveness, shallow churches whose main goal was to whisper the names of the "Famous" people who attended and the congregations who waited impatiently during the over-produced worship to catch sight of one of those exalted members to arrive. Jonny and I packed our bags and never looked back.
Until a year and a half ago, that is.
We had work to do in Nashville and we came armed with only a suitcase each (3 because, now, our lovely Red had joined our family). We knew we would only be staying for a couple of months off and on and then back to San Diego we would go.
We were wrong.
After two months of "visiting" Nashville we were making the call to have our furniture and stuff shipped across the country, back to the city we ran from. What the heck and why the heck?
I've been reading a book by Eugene Peterson and he is giving us, the readers, a lashing about our expectations of miracles. I admit, sometimes deep within I find myself whispering prayers like
"God, please, give me a sign so that I know for sure!"
"Jesus, I'm not taking a step in that direction until you prove that is where you want me to go."
There is not a big difference in these conversations with God as with my daughter's conversations with her father and I. Why is it so easy for me to call it manipulation when its Red and all her 4 year old-ness standing in front of me with her hands on her hips, her chin down and a furrowed brow? How do I think that my words and attitude and intentions are different than hers?
Eugene, highlights this verse in Matthew 12:39, "An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign..."
Anytime we demand proof of God's will on some particular question in our lives, aren't we truly asking for something miraculous to prove His authority in our lives? What if He is always proving His authority in our lives and we are not hearing/seeing?
Eugene goes on to say, "Signs reveal Jesus as God at work among us, but they also reveal how unready so many of us are to accept and embrace what is revealed and how contentious we can become when the God in heaven that we worship turns out to be involved in the details of our daily lives on this earth in ways that don't fit our preconceptions."
Another side note (don't worry these side notes will circle all the way back around to the original thought of this blog):
Earlier in the book I'm reading, "Christ Plays In 10,000 Places," Eugene Peterson said, "Worship is the primary means for forming us as participants in God's work."
My brain exploded with thoughts about this statement. Gah it is so good! Here is where my brain went:
If I were to intern for an Ornithologist (someone who's job is the study of birds), then I would be learning the world of Ornithology, the flight patterns of birds, mating habits, bird calls, habitats, personality, eating habits and predators, among many other things, of birds. My time spent with the Ornithologist would be a display of the worth I gave the field of Ornithology. The more worth I gave, the more I would be present, learning and being active in the studying, note taking, or preservation. I would be sacrificing my time and money. The more worth I gave the field, the more invested in and the more understanding I would have of it. I would have a hard time keeping what I know to myself. I would have a hard time not continuing to gather information even while not with the Ornithologist. But most of all I would become aware. I would be awoken to the bird lives that had always been and would continue to be present in the world around me. I would know when something was disrupting migration or what bird was nearby based on its call, or the likelihood of where I would find particular birds in particular areas of the world (i.e.. "Is that a Blue Macaw in Dallas, Texas? It must be a pet because their natural habitat is in South America NOT Texas.)
Worship or worth ascribed to God (Time spent with, study of, investment in, declaration of awe, etc.) WOULD make us participants in God's work. We would see creation, humanity included, more intimately. We would be more sensitive to when things are out of whack or are disruptive. We would be able to hear the whispers of the Spirit that have ALWAYS been around and follow or obey or join where or what they are leading. We would see and have a better understanding of our mysterious Creator. Perhaps we would even see those miracles that are in and have always been in "our daily lives on this earth...that don't fit our preconceptions." This worship life would lead to knowledge and confidence and familiarity with God's work and would allow us to be actively involved in it.
Now go back to the beginning.
Pass participation in God's work.
Pass the desire to see miracles.
Arrive in Nashville.
Last night I was reminded why we are back in Nashville. We are seeing God's work in our lives here. If I had kept my preconceived ideas of what God's work should look like or what signs of His authority in our lives should look like or what should equate as a miracle I would have never seen each of these take place within a simple text from friends.
Now this may seem insane and I don't doubt that these friends are going to think that it is strange that I have been so impacted by their "friendly-ness" but here is what happened:
My husband and I were needing someone to watch Scarlett last night while we went to dinner with a friend. We tried the baby sitters and they weren't available and as a last resort Jonny urged me to text a friend who had said "Anytime we wanted to drop Scarlett off at their house they would love to have her over." (They also have a little girl around the same age as Scarlett who Scarlett adores) I texted, they responded "Yeah totally!" They went on to ask about what Scarlett would be up for eating for dinner etc.
Jonny and Red and I live in Nashville where we have no family but the community of friends we are beyond blessed to have in our lives. We have never had someone who is not family or a paid babysitter #1 offer to watch Scarlett #2 to actually do it.
I sat in my car and breathed in this bit of Christ in my life. This miracle of friendship. This sign of Christ caring for even the tiny details of our lives. And, I know that it is because of my worship of our Creator alongside this community that I am even able to be aware of God's work in our lives. It has always been happening. It will always continue. I have only to lean in. To listen. To watch.
Go grab your bird-binoculars folks, there's stuff to see!