Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blessed time in Hainburg

The best thing about adventure is the unexpected, charting new territory, discovering the unknown. Something I love about faith is the mysteries through which God works. The theme for my GTS in 2003 was “the Mysteries of the Kingdom” and that has stuck with me ever since as something that I long for and something that makes my heart leap. Beginning this journey with my sister, I knew that there were special treasures from the Father’s heart hidden along the way for us to uncover and enjoy. We prayed that the Lord would order our steps and lead us on the journey that He has prepared. Thus, I knew that our time in Hainburg with Father Peter Hocken would be special, but—as is the way with the Lord—it far exceeded my hopes.

I have been blessed by Father Peter since his week of teaching in my GTS 2003. I particularly remember his teaching on “Surprises of the Holy Spirit” and tracing the moves of God throughout Church history. I am thankful that growing up I was never taught against any certain denominations; but rather, I was led to focus on a living faith and relationship with the Lord which I have always firmly believed was available across all expressions of the Body of Christ. I never understood why people would refer to either “Catholics” or “Christians.” That just doesn’t make sense. Now not all Catholics are truly believers just as not all nominal Christians are truly believers. Salvation doesn’t come through church affiliation but through grace and faith and the blood of Jesus. Catholicism has been the vehicle that has carried the Christian faith through centuries of history and throughout the world. Now, I am certainly not denying a simultaneous history of bloodshed and greed of those whose faith was insincere or grossly misguided; however, this is also a history that the majority of the Protestant world must likewise face and recognize. Unfortunately, through a lack of historical education regarding most of our own denominations, we are left unwittingly examining the splinter in our brother’s eye, never dreaming of the log passed on from our fathers. It is not time to ignore, but it is time to recognize and repent, and time to believe that His blood is able to cleanse and restore that which was lost. We have also refused to discover the beauty and special grace of our brothers and sisters in Messiah Yeshua (for indeed, the Jewish Savior is who brings us together as one body, He himself being the head).

This is what has been burning in my heart since my youth—to discover the beauty of the Body of Christ, and to help bring unity so that she can be ready to receive Her Husband as a pure (refined, tested, unadulterated) and spotless (without blemish, shame, hidden darkness) Bride. God is one, yet He is equally three persons. The unity of the Trinity is our ultimate example. Let me be clear, however, that I do not believe in universalism or sacrificing the foundations of your faith for the sake of unity—we must become even more steadfast in the principles of our faith. The Church must be a lighthouse. We must be rooted on the rock, though there are waves in a stormy darkness, our light shines out to guide others safely to firm foundation. I believe that the unique and varied expressions throughout the world are God’s heart. He is Creator. He decided that no two snowflakes should be the same. He decided that seasons should change and landscapes should differ. It is the heart of the Creator to see beauty and creativity released through different cultures. I long for the day when we surround His throne in beautiful array of His glory—from every nation, tribe, and tongue. The Lord gave me a vision of a beautiful tapestry stretched across the globe. I saw that He desires to sew the colorful threads of his Church together to create one beautiful picture. And I believe that this is the vision He has placed inside of me for such a time as this. I desire to help weave this tapestry of love.

So, to bring this blog back to its intended purpose of reporting on my time in Hainburg, I will start by saying that it was a blessing. We so enjoyed the kindness and hospitality of Mike and Beryl Connely who arranged our visit and really blessed us by their servant’s hearts and love for each other. As you saw in my previous blog, we had the great privilege of getting to know Sister Mary Paul (from Texas) and really spend time together. We are so thankful for these new friends. The surprise from the Father’s heart was the extent to which I was able to share my heart with Father Peter, and his response of impartational blessing to me. I have always felt pulled in different directions, knowing that there were so many different things on my heart, but trusting that God is the one, the only one, who can bring them together for His purposes. My time with Fr. Peter was such a time of confirming all these things that are from God’s heart and placed there by Him. I am so amazed when looking back at this whole year. I must say that this has been the most formational year of my life. There are so many markers of clarification and understanding that He has done in me this year, and I can literally feel the difference. I have more solid vision and tangible hope for the future, though I do not see what all of the journey will look like. Then again, that is my favorite thing about adventure.

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