Friday, January 31, 2014

Letting your light shine.

I may have shared this story in years past here on Nitty.Gritty. But it's a good one, and this photo recently showed up in my FaceBook feed and so it just seemed fitting to share it and the story that came to my mind right away when I saw it. This picture is of Teagan and her friend, Jess, taken on a  day that they had a playdate at our house. Now, you can probably tell just by looking at this picture that these two little girls loved to play, be loud, laugh and enjoy just being little girls! We knew Jess from our local church. It was one of the places that we made some lifelong friends when we lived in Gaylord. Church was one of the places that practically "felt like home" for us- in part because of the great friendships we did for with so many people there, but also because we spent a lot of time there- besides the usual Sunday morning church services.
Jess and Teagan didn't just love to play and laugh and have fun when they had playdates at home. But they loved to be loud and have fun at church together too. Sometimes that felt appropriate- like during game time in the gym, or while singing and learning funny songs during Vacation Bible School. I loved and appreciated the good times these girls, and lots of other young friends of theirs shared in church.
But one Sunday morning stands out in my mind when I see this picture of Teagan and Jess. The new auditorium had recently been built and was the new worship sanctuary for Sunday mornings and other large events/gatherings. It seats about 1,100 people and let's just say that there was a lot of time and money invested in that big, new auditorium.
This particular Sunday morning the girls had connected at church during Sunday School, and they were still happily hanging out as the morning services ended and the parents gathered their children or just talked and fellowshipped together before it was time to part. The girls chose this Sunday morning to go running up and down the large aisles of the new worship center. But they didn't stop there. They ventured up on stage and were running and laughing and playing behind the big curtain and by the podium as well. When I realized that Teagan was a part of the noise and rambunctious behavior in the auditorium I gave Chip "the look" to go get her immediately and put a stop to her wild antics. I watched the girls run and laugh even more for a minute or two as they realized they were 'caught' and were being called to bring their fun and games to a halt.
Their response to Chip when he ushered them down from the stage was that "they were just playing and having fun!" Of course they were! But I could feel the 'eyes' of other church goers on them and on us as parents that made it feel anything but "fun".
On the ride home from church that day Teagan got a little lecture on "how to act in church". We reminded her that the sanctuary was "God's house" and that she should be careful of how loud and wild she was in that place from now on. She seemed to understand, and yet she was still grinning and told us how much she loved playing with Jess and her others friends at church too.
I could never have imagined on the ride home from church that day that it would only be a matter of months later that I would be standing in that very auditorium honoring and remembering Teagan's life at her memorial service. I remember that day so clearly as well. How my heart was so shattered and how my mind was still trying to come to grips with the reality that I would never see her laugh or run or dance and twirl on this earth ever again. I could hardly believe that we were sharing stories and pictures of her life in remembrance of her- because to me she was still so full of life and joy and I wasn't prepared to let any of that go!
And yet Chip and I stood hand-in-hand with our hearts broken and wounded and clueless as to how it all happened and more so, how God was going to mend the brokenness that we felt to the very core of our hearts. I pictured Teagan running and laughing in the very place that hundreds of flowers now served as a reminder that she was gone. Her smiling picture on the memorial alter made my heart ache more. I wanted to turn back time to the day she ran and laughed so loudly that I sent Chip rushing down the aisle to scoop her up and halt her fun. I wanted to turn back time and do it all over again.
Only this time I would have wanted to hug her and tell her how happy I was that she was simply being who God made her to be. I wanted to turn back the days and watch her twinkle and shine on that stage with her friend, Jess, as only two little girls can in the midst of their play. I wanted to look on their joy and grasp how it was one of the purest forms of worship in that space that day. Their actions may not have been perfectly in line with what other church-goers or Chip or I had in mind for them in that new auditorium. But in retrospect, and certainly in light of the reality we faced at Teagan's service, their actions were in perfect accord to how God wants us to come to Him with our hearts and lives. He wants us to come as little children. Not caring about what others think or even how we see ourselves. He wants us to come to Him in worship, recognizing who He is, and putting all of our self aside. True worship is singing, dancing, praying, sacrificing, embracing all of who GOD is, and truly being humble in spirit and simply being who God created us to be. There is nothing we can bring to His alter that He doesn't already 'own' or have access too...except our hearts. He wants our hearts to be poured out to Him as our love offering. We can come "too loud, too wild, too clueless" as to who He is, and yet He accepts us as we are simply because we come. He just wants our hearts. Plain and simple.
I am so glad to know that Teagan invited Jesus into her heart and life just the day before she died. She knew that Jesus died on the cross for her sin, and truly the most important thing that anyone can do, who understands who God is, is to give their heart to Him by asking forgiveness of their sin and inviting Him into their life. God does the rest. I miss the mark far too often when it comes to living the simple way that God wants us to live. He wants us to shine for Him, lean on Him, shout for Him, share our joys and sorrows and everything in between for Him, and just be who He created us to be. Nothing more. Nothing less. It seems so simple. And it is. Even a child can get it and live out their days letting their life shine for Him. I am so glad I had a front row seat to Teagan's life. Especially on the day she ran through the auditorium in response to just being who God made her to be.

1 comment:

Tracy said...

Beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing it!