NOTE: Slightly-less-cohesive, in-the-moment, spontaneous worship piece coming up!
Often, I take Communion privately. I realize that this can be controversial, but I feel qualified to do it for a few reasons: the churches in my area encourage it; my grandfather and uncle are both in the ministry; I have no church and, therefore, few people to join me in Communion; and, most importantly, because the lord told me in 2005 to do this often. So, yes–private Communion is beautiful.
Why am I writing this? Because, this evening, I had a brief yet deeply-moving experience while trying to track down Communion elements. It’s after midnight, and no one can really navigate a cluttered kitchen in the dark–much less, I suspect, a Braille reader whose very sweet but not Einsteinian guide-dog has not been trained to find various types of bread. Ordinarily, I use Communion wafers purchased from the Christian bookstore, but tonight they were somewhat out-of-reach, so I was trying to come up with other solutions. I think you can tell that I believe in this most blessed of gifts as a symbol, not a transubstantiative process… In layman’s terms, I’m a churchless protestant who was simply in search of a symbol. So, back to the question. Saltines? Those were too difficult to find, tucked, as they were, into the back of a cupboard. Bread? It should be on the counter, but family members have a habbit of appropriating bread, then carting it off to the tops of refrigerators or dining-room tables or cereal cupboards without warning their unsuspecting relations. So, then, if I couldn’t find any bread…
Scarcely had these thoughts had any real time to float through my mind than I reached out toward the counter with my left hand, a filled Communion cup already being in my right, and immediately found that hand resting on a full loaf of bread.
The moment was completely unexpected. I stood there for some time, still holding onto that bread and wondering at the lord Who had allowed me to find it there, just when I needed it.
By this time, some of my readers are in one of two camps: either you think that this was all coincidence, or you wonder why it was so deeply important. No, it was not a coincidence. God allows ALL things for a reason, for His purposes, and I am firmly convinced that He guided my hand to that loaf of bread, from the loaf’s perfect placement to the way my fingers simply closed over the little twist-tie on that bag. As for why this was so important…
With the exception of three pleasant days, I had not known God’s presence since 13 September. I shan’t go into it here, but suffice it to say that Joanna Weaver got it wrong–at least, as far as i’m concerned. For those who aren’t familiar with her, she penned a book entitled Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. My dilemma was just the opposite: “Show me how to have a Martha work ethic in my Mary-like heart!” Translation: I was overwrought, overworked, and overwhelmed by all the little, mundane, apparently-insignificant tasks that were filling each day, and all I wanted was time in jesus! Night after night, I would cross my T’s and dot my I’s, fill out forms in triplicate, remember this tiny detail and that one, and fall into bed exhausted but without rest, after having read only three or four verses of Scripture. Fellow Christians especially, please don’t try to live life this way; it will ware you out. None of this was how I wanted to live; all I wanted was rest in Him, but all I had were endless appointments here and there. Benjamin Franklin got it both right and wrong. For me, “all work and no play” had suddenly and jarringly transformed itself into “all world and no pray”.
If you’ve never experienced this–and I hope that applies–then you can’t know the terror that attends this state of being. Not knowing how long it will last, or whether you will ever receive rest in Him again, or how to combine the necessary tasks of this life with the glorious work of the Father, is so unsettling that it can lead to a miserable existence. I had actually undergone something like this last year, and I was desperately worried that it might happen again. Note to self: Did not the Lord say, “Behold, I do a new thing; shall you not see it” (Isaiah)?
And, I had begun to feel that my life was without prayer, and that I might just languish in that state for a bit. Did the Lord even want to hear my supplications anymore? Why had He not prevented this from happening? How could I rest in Him, anymore? When, oh when? HOW LONG?
Tonight, three things happened to change that: First, I attended a hymn-sing that washed my heart with sound, Biblical doctrine and joyful theology so reminiscent of holiness that words cannot adequately express the glory of it all. Next, I returned home to find a letter from a beautiful woman of God. She wrote of the Holy Spirit–oh! the pure, unalloyed joy! and of staying strong in Jesus, of prayer without ceasing, of prophecy, of prayer in the Spirit, and of ceaseless praise. Marvelous!–and I do not use that word flippantly.
And now, this lovely experience with the bread. As I stood there with my hand on that loaf, my heart was filled with peace, and with a knowledge of the One I serve. Something like this: “I do provide, and I do hear your prayers. “Call upon Me, and I will answer”. “I am the bread of life”.”
And now, I am reminded of something I had been clinging to over the past few days. “Come unto Me,” Jesus proclaimed in Matthew 11:28, “and I will give you rest.” I had pleaded for rest, sought it, but seemed unable to find it. And now, now!–I know without any shadow of doubt that He was willing to answer that prayer for rest all along, that He will never leave me nor forsake me, as His Word has promised, and that He is with me always. Hallelujah!
Tonight, I will get about four hours of sleep before I have to be up in the morning. No matter; I will have gotten more rest than I did during the past two weeks combined. Sleep differs so markedly from true rest, you know.
And now, because it is time to make the very most of this wondrous, restful night, ’tis off I go to pray, to sing songs of praise, to journal-worship, to seek Him where He may be found, to reread that precious passage about Mary and Martha in my heart, and to rejoice in a psalm or two or twenty-five. Oh, yes–and to partake in a certain small piece of bread.