Well okay, not just the holidays. I can’t ignore the resounding, soul-altering Comment: This is not just for now.
We linger, just souls pouring, and in those moments, walls fall. The thunderous quake, the crashing of ugly pretense pushed down, is something I feel, something that shakes Heaven maybe, while here, our voices softly offer the only sound. There, in the truer place, there before the King of Kings, incense wafts fragrant (Revelation 5:8).
When we pray together—not showy, well-worded sonnets but soul-naked, vulnerable, stumbling Honesty—Power runs wild in our midst, wrapping us tightly in Light-bonds until we embrace each other without touching. For the pilgrimmage, we have shed our skin, our bones, all our earth-bound and temporary clutter.
The Spirit carves out a space for us, an other-worldly tabernacle, a Holy of Holies wherein He holds our hearts in His hands for re-shaping. Together, we dwell in a Shelter between, and we dare not take the entering lightly.
My sister, she asks God to let us serve and love and give and to let that be an act of worship, and from my throat, an assent rises unbidden by my mind. Word kindles somewhere deep, a burning fire: Therefore, I urge you—I urge you—brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy—mercy deeper and wider and fuller than the sea, mercy you know–to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship (Romans 12:1).—Living as the sacrifice, daily laying me down, that’s worship. The dashes, they’re His engraving in me, the deep cutting that makes me ornate. Yes, I whisper, because this is what I want, to love how He loves, to serve how He serves, to go where He goes, to live and breathe worship of the One who intentionally wrecked His life for Loving. He knew the Truth. He is the Truth.
“Let us not be selfish. It’s so easy for us–for me—to be selfish,” another of my sisters speaks quickly, boldly, the words rushing. Her human voice is different, but she merely continues a conversation. Her words are Spirit-born, Spirit-ushered (1 Cor. 2:13), a sacrifice understood by the Son (Romans 8:34), treasured by the Father (Acts 10:4).
Before we shed ourselves to gather in that other space, we sat talking about the holidays, how we feel, the things we treasure and enjoy, the things we struggle through. We made lists of hopes. Despite the differing details of our individual circumstances, we all want the holidays to mean something, to be more than the overwhelming, mad racing against time; more than some grandiose effort for a glossy, full-page spread celebration; more than a handful of traditions.
I am breathless as we pray, listening as the Spirit replies sharp and bold—this is how, this is how, as the Power that conquered death speaks Love right through us. “We know that people hurt so much, especially now. People do without…They don’t have…They have lost…They miss…And even when we struggle with finances, we are so rich…”
This is not just for now, Spirit says, grabbing me. This is not just for now. Unselfish, surrendered, laying me down on the alter is not some glittery, magical holiday decoration. He cuts it into me, meaning to use the yielding that always comes this time of year to make a forever difference in my heart. Now, the opportunities abound, ripe Winter fruit, but. —But mourning the brokenness of this place and doing.something.about.it, being My hands and feet and voice, being Living Water poured out on a parched and cracked people, breathing Life into the dying, Living as clay in my hands for my purposes—That’s not just for now.
–If you want Living that is more, Living that means something…IF you want to Live at all (John 5:6), Live as the sacrifice. Live worship. Lay ME down.
Yes. I feel the word, heart deep, and it’s more than assent. It’s an open invitation to change me.
With the last spoken Amen, we gather our selves to leave, but as I look around, no one looks exactly the same. Gradually, as though it takes the Eyes a moment to adjust, I see that we have spread around the soil of our separate paths, that Praying together has melted us into each other. So, too, the Spirit accomplishes a collective robing, a gathering of Christ about the shoulders, a sleeve clearly seen on one, the hem glowing bright about the feet of another. Our praying knits us together as His Body. In seasons of honest prayer, His likeness replaces the temporary garments that identify us as anything other than His. In seasons, we cast off the grave clothes that no longer represent the truth. Such transformations only happen in the space He carves, in the place between, in the soul-naked Holy of Holies. And this is why we dare not take the entering lightly.
“I love it when we pray together,” I can’t help but say just then. “This is a gathering of such beautiful hearts.” The words just come, but no one begrudges them, and right then He marks on me something to carry forth:
The only satisfying Feast will be the one I host in the Light-wrapped place I prepare, the Holy space in which I dwell.
Come here and celebrate with me.
Come here and be mine.
Here, I will re-shape your heart until I am the air you breathe.
Here, you will love and serve and give, and it will be your act of worship.
Yes, Lord. Yes.