SUNDAY WORSHIP ON VACATION

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I woke up blissfully late this morning with the cool northern Michigan air blowing softly across my bed. I love vacation. No wakeup alarms. No schedule. No plans. Just a strong cup of coffee and some spiritual reading.

Of course, I remember that it’s Sunday. But it’s so hard to go to church on vacation. It’s bound to be awkward and uninspiring. We could just stay here and listen to a sermon on line. Plus, how many mornings can we take it slow like this?

I pick up my Daily Devotions by Tim and Kathy Keller to break the silence of a good night’s sleep. I figure, God understands.

But maybe not.

The devotion is based on Psalm 81 where the worship of God is commanded in a vigorous manner. “Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob!” The Kellers expound on the text, explaining that skillful music can turn our hearts to God and reminding us that we are commanded to meet regularly for public worship, throwing in the Hebrews exhortation from chapter 10.

Hmm. I think God might be talking to me. But not really what I wanted to hear today.

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MY LITTLE CAR RIDE FROM HELL

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My husband and I took separate cars to our beautiful vacation spot in northern Michigan. He took our son and a friend, while I took two of our daughters.

Bad decision on my part. It was a car ride from hell.

My oldest daughter Grace has autism and really hates any change. The older she gets, the worse it is. She used to go on vacations with us, more or less happily. But in recent years she has become increasingly resistant to even the most perfect getaways. Sometimes we just let her stay home with a college student who is loosely supervising.

But this year our rental had four bedrooms, so we thought she should come. She could have her own personal space and a little sunshine in the afternoons.

But she was not pleased.

Weeks before our holiday she began announcing that she would NOT be joining us. We tried all our usual strategies, but they all ended somewhere like, “You’re coming, and that’s final.”

And as if it’s not hard enough to just get out the door for vacation with clothes, food, sunscreen, and beach chairs, Grace had disappeared the morning of our departure. She was hiding. It was her Last Stand.

She had already refused to pack (I packed for her when she wasn’t looking,) refused to bring her favorite things, and threatened to go on a hunger strike. Which is no vain threat from Grace. She’s done it before.

I found her in the unfinished part of our basement among storage boxes with the lights out. “How did you find me?” she asked.

We pulled out of the driveway an hour and a half behind my husband, and the tirade began. She literally complained, grumbled, moaned, and argued for the next six hours.

This always sets off a chain of events that goes something like this. Grace whines. I comfort her. She says no one cares about her. I assure her. She moans. I ignore. She moans loudly. I turn the music on. My youngest daughter tries to comfort her. She shouts “Shut up!” Then my youngest daughter tells her she’s mean. Then I tell everyone to “Be quiet!” more sternly than I like to admit.

Six hours.

So I’m in a car driving to a most lovely destination, with some sweet Christian music wafting through the speakers, and there’s not a moment of peace. It feels like such a disconnect.

And this just seems like the perfect metaphor of my Christian life.

Outside, somewhere sort of far away, a beautiful Christian life exists. But here in the car, there is a kind of turmoil and despair that is drowning out the promise of that sweet communion. I wonder, what’s wrong with me? Why isn’t this Christian life working? Where is God in this?

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SEEING GLORY

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My daughter hates modern apologetics.

Mother fail. I taught her a course in apologetics in high school.

But she says none of those proofs or arguments would have ever convinced her to be a Christian. And, truthfully, I would have to concur. They would have never convinced me either.

I heard John Piper speak to this recently at the Gospel Coalition’s Women’s Conference, and I wish my daughter had been there. He said that although he has always loved that kind of historical reasoning, when it comes down to it, he has a hard time remembering how to explain it. And that bothers him, because he’s basing his whole life on the truthfulness of Scripture, so it seems like he should really have the certainty of it down.

So, how can we know? I mean, KNOW?

Well, that’s what Piper talked about, and I loved it.

His answer, in a nutshell, is that we KNOW by seeing the glory of God. Really seeing it. With the eyes of our heart.

What a soft argument. Flimsy even. But so dang true.

Back to my daughter. I remember one significant moment in her life when the eyes of her heart saw Glory.

Of course, all her life we had been taking her to church and teaching her the Word and telling her our stories. But one night my husband reads a favorite sermon by Martyn Lloyd Jones aloud at family devotions. Great words by The Doctor, as he was affectionately called. We all sit there quietly taking in the glory of that gospel message.

And a couple days later we wake up to a letter my sweet daughter has penned. In it she pours out her heart and confesses every secret she has kept from us and begs for our forgiveness. And I am stunned. Not because of any revelation in that letter…but at the strangeness and suddenness of it. I didn’t see that coming.

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