Have you ever had something out of the blue come up, again and again. Perhaps it was something you haven't thought of in a while and something reminds you of it... then a little later, something else does.... And finally you start to wonder... God? Is this You? And why?
Lately, the Lord has been bringing Scotland back to me... And the resurrection of those memories is causing some deep, serious reflection.... During the years 1991-1994, we lived in Scotland. The movies don't exaggerate it's scenic beauty- the purple heather on the mountains, the sheep in the valleys, the breathtaking vistas, the wild North Sea, the rugged untamed Highlands. The village shops are like something out of Dickens. The people are truly remarkable. But above all of that, it was the place we met the Lord. It was the place where for the first time, church wasn't just a building or an obligation, but a living, thriving community. A family. When you are an American overseas there is a bond that takes place among believers of such depth as is uncommon in most environments. And God brought us to a Scottish church with a Scottish pastor but the congregation consisted of several American families from the base. We really integrated with our Scottish brothers and sisters. We shared their culture. They shared ours. We made life-long friends. The fellowship we had was something I'd only dreamed of. It was that sense of belonging I'd always longed for. It certainly wasn't perfect. But God protected us as young believers and we were blissfully unaware of any problems. We just loved and were loved... And God met us there.
Scotland is our spiritual homeland. Its where we were baptized in the Holy Spirit. Its where Keith learned to preach and I learned to sing and play. Its where our children first learned the word of God and where we discovered worship music. I was thrust into worship leading in our homegroup when our leader was transferred. I had been learning guitar for only a few weeks. I was terrified and I'm sure our home group was as well- haha. But somehow we made it. This group of people was unique. We were all pretty much at the same place- all green in the faith. All in our mid to late twenties with young children and hungry for the Lord. I have vivid memories of these precious families, holding their babies while we held ours, worshipping the Lord together. Holidays were spent together, so many hours laughing, praying, debating Scripture... it was a life-changing season for us. Seeds were sown deep in us that stayed and have become a permanent part of our foundation. I cannot hear the bagpipes or see pictures of Scotland without longing in my heart. I was heartbroken when we left. I wanted to stay. I really did... When the church disbanded not long after, I realized we had probably moved at the right time... but I left a big piece of my heart there... And a big piece of Scotland stayed with me.
We left Scotland the day after discovering I was pregnant. When Hannah and Joseph lament that they are the only ones in our family who haven't been to Scotland, I just smile... they were there, they just don't remember! :) But life moved on... The longing faded as our lives became busier... but recently, Scotland has begun reappearing in my life again. I see things that remind me of Scotland. I find pictures in random places. Memories pop up out of nowhere. About a week ago, for no reason, I googled Scotland images and downloaded some beautiful scenery pictures... I just stared and stared. How could I have forgotten the beauty? How could we have not kept in touch with all of those precious people who represent that significant time in our lives. We have kept in touch with some families but sadly we lost touch with most.
So lately, with Scotland on my mind, I have been Facebooking... alot! And I have found almost everybody! And my emotions have been working overtime!
There is something about an isolated period of time in your life. We didn't remain there to watch their children grow up and to see the changes... So everyone has stayed cemented in my mind just as we left them.... Same age, same hairstyles (Poor guys, it was the 90's- haha!), same family life, same walk with God... Since the shock of discovering them all again, I've been trying to sort through my conflicting emotions... Amazment at how the children have grown and how our looks have changed... elation at having finally found these people who were so tied to our beginnings in Christ. Alarmed at how the last 15 years have moved by so fast and how we have indeed gotten older! Thankful to see so many still serving Christ. Saddened and surprised at those who aren't. Sobered as I look at how our choices have affected our paths, our children and will affect the generations to come and their eternity. Confused, wondering how brothers in Christ, so close, sharing the same dreams for their families and with the same fervent hunger for God, walking side by side, learning together, fellowshipping deeply- could gradually drift apart, eventually going down two vastly opposing paths and ending up at totally different destinations... Realizing that it could have been us I am reminded of the scripture that warns to "take heed lest you fall". I just want to fall on my face before God and say- "thank You, thank You, thank You, for keeping us"... but then I also want to ask- "why God? Why them? Why? Why not us?" I don't know... and I am surprised at the depth of grief that I am feeling because of the path some have taken... So I pray. That's all I know to do. I cried on the way to work this morning praying for them....
Despite having the same beginnings and seeing the results of the different paths we've each taken, brings me to something I have been chewing on for some time...
After Christmas a group of us went to the Onething conference in Kansas City... The emphasis this year was the End Times and how God is raising up a Forerunner generation, radical, set apart to usher in His second coming like John the Baptist did for His first coming. Burning and shining lights in this generation. The urgency of the hour is hitting me like a sledgehammer. The futility of the things that have taken so much of my time and virtue and have occupied my thoughts and dreams is sinking in... Jesus will soon return to this planet earth! We have one shot at this thing called life. What on earth are we playing at? Where is the urgency? Where is the purpose? Life's purpose is not just for me to be happy and to be comfortable and to have my way... There is another Kingdom, and its not this temporary earthly one. He is coming back to rule and reign on this earth. ON THIS EARTH! Here! The word of God is clear that according to what we do with what He has given us, will we be rewarded in the Kingdom to come. He will actually say, "Well done so and so, I give you this city to rule. So and so, you were faithful even more, I will give you this country to rule". (the word is clear on this) I am just floored with the dawning realization that what we do today has consequences not just here, but in the hereafter, for ETERNITY! Each choice affects the paths of those around us, possibly for eternity. How are our choices affecting our future generations? As the days get closer to His return, the generations to come will need to have a rock solid foundation to build on... our choices today are the bricks of that foundation! Our children are our most precious gift... have we chosen wisely and secured that spiritual beachhead for them and the following generations? Or have we chosen selfishly and left them uncovered, alone to break their own path... Many do. Many of us were the first in our families to do just that. I believe there is a special reward for those who, against all odds, forged ahead despite having no spiritual heritage left to light their way. They ARE the forgers, the ground breakers, ground takers of their generation's heritage!. But I want to leave a legacy of faith to my children that they can build on for their children. My prayer has become. "Lord may each of our generations, until Your return to this earth, serve you more fervently and love you more wholeheartedly than we did! May the passion for You increase with every generation!" Because the days are getting more and more wicked, they will need it more. Being set apart for them will have greater consequences than it had for us. Are we really preparing them? We and our children have been born into this current culture and generation, at such a time as this, by God's wisdom and foreknowledge. I am honored and terrified at that thought... I want to follow, and for our children to follow, the unique path He has chosen for us in this generation... To truly entrust them to God and to not, in fear, overprotect them, projecting our fear onto them, causing them to not be bold and fearless, prepared or relevant in this generation- the generation that they've been born into and destined to be victorious in.
With the perspective of time, looking back at where we and this precious group of people began our journey together during a unique season in our lives, and suddenly rediscovering them and where they are now, is just...overwhelming and thought provoking. It makes me ask- "What will we find when we look back another 15 years from now? Where will we all be then? Will it be where You want us to be Lord?"! This recent stunning revelation of the swift passage of time has caused me to reflect on my life, my present, my future. It has shaken me up and has once again awakened me to my desperate need for Him TODAY.
But despite this sadness and bittersweet nostalgia, God has brought Scotland back into my life again for some reason. And I will pray for my Spiritual homeland and the Church there... and I hope, in the millinium, when all is finally set right, when He is reigning and He graciously allows us to reign with Him, that I'll be found faithful enough to maybe have my own little village to rule.... in Scotland :).