Tuesday, July 4, 2023

A Pause for Respite and Recollection

I fully intended to delve right back into writing about Bruce Ware's infamous 2008 sermon at Denton Bible Church when I returned from a short break away from home with my husband. We left for it a few hours after I put the previous post online, so very focused on the many things yet to say about it all and why it's still important. Had it not been for the little getaway, I'd likely write every day.

But a remarkable thing happened.

We drove to the Lower Florida Keys where I found a most affordable place to stay on a docked houseboat. It was beautiful there and felt very private. It was so nice to have a kitchen, but the best thing was the outdoor deck that opened up onto the water. It also looked out over a patch of many mangroves – the water inches from where we sat. Inside in the coolness of air conditoning, we could still enjoy the view through the patio doors while seated snugly on the sofa.

On the first night, my husband and I awakened in the still of the night (as we usually do and have done so for most of our 33 years together). We usually spend at least twenty minutes in the middle of most nights talking about obscure and fascinating things like the nerd-geeks that we are, and then we go back to sleep (on the good nights). We jokingly call it our liguis obscurus. Sitting out on the deck in the middle of the night, inches away from the still, watching the calm water filled us with awe, wonder, and gratitude to share such beauty. Though we didn't see any dolphins or manatees swim by, it was still amazing to think they might. 

Even with the lights from the marina and the many boats, I could still see the stars in the clear sky. Most of the world slept, and we sat and watched the stars in the sky circling over us. It always makes me think of the Genesis creation account, and I imagine that I can sense the Spirit of God hovering over the surface of the deep. Though it was still that night, the surface of the water still seemed to emanate the energy of life. I felt a new and different sense of being "kept" by God who neither slumbers nor sleeps. We were awake to witness it and drink it in.

We then stayed two nights in a nice hotel in a different town on the southern side of the Keys, looking out on a little bay-like area facing the Straights of Florida. Though there was incidental light there, too, I awakened early on our last night there and watched Jupiter rise over the eastern sky. I could hear the hum of the air conditioner while out on the beautiful balcony while the world (and my husband) slept. I regretted not bringing a scope that might have allowed me to see Jupiter's moons because it was shining so brightly with an orange glint when it first made its debut.

I watched the lights on buildings on the other side of the inlet glisten and scintillate on the water like the stars did in the inky sky. I was held. I was kept. I felt peaceful, held above the water and under the heavens, safe in God's holy presence as I enjoyed a moment of awe watching Jupiter shine so brightly as she migrated up over the horizon and across the sky on the first day of summer.

I wasn't ready to leave that place of holiness when I returned, and I haven't wanted to think about violence, deception, or cruelty. I needed time to remember that amidst it all and even in our trials, we are kept and held by God. My name is inscribed on His palm, my times are in His hands, and I am held by Him.

I've also thought lately that people like Bruce Ware and his message are passing away like all of us. I tend to fear with urgency to spare Christian women from the harm that some suffer in the gender war when I see little change. Tim Keller died only a few weeks ago. Time slips into the future -- us with it while our times rest in His hands. This present world is passing away, and a new time will come as we pass out of this life. There will be new sermons and new victories. There will be new still nights of awe and some with new terror. New arrows, different from these today, will fly by day. Yet we are kept and held and borne up as God.

I'm not yet done bathing in and exhaling after much-needed rest in peace and joy. I needed to remember so that tomorrow, I will not forget.