Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I Lift My Hands?

If you pass me on the highway, and see me waving my arm in the air, I could be saying "Hi" or having my own private little worship party in my car.
I love to crank up the volume of a good song and lift my voice and hands in praise and prayer. Depending on the day, I could be smiling broadly or crying. This has prompted some very strange looks from other drivers.

When the heart overflows with emotions of gratitude, sadness or love, it is natural to respond in a physical way. Something special happens when I am physically engaged in the act of worship by clapping to the rythm, dancing to the music or raising my hands. It is wonderful and freeing. So why do I have a problem?

I grew up in a wonderful church where this kind of "show" was frowned upon, yet the singing was very hearty, awesome, worshipful & sincere. Once in a while we would hear a loud "Aaamen" in response to a good song or a particular point in the preacher's sermon that needed a little added emphasis.

Many wonderful, godly people who influenced my life would have been very offended by any physical activity during the service and I respected that.
There was a sense of awe and reverence which was beautiful and intimidating at the same time. Therefore, this is still a sensitive area for me in the corporate worship setting now.

Whether we kneel, fall flat on our face, sit, stand, remain motionless, clap, cry, dance, shout "hallelujah", or raise our hands...God sees the heart and he loves to see & hear the praises of his people. PTL

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Oh Canada!

Every July 1st I think of my mother-in-law. She would say, "Canada is a wonderful country. Here they don't shoot people!" (in the sixties, shootings were still a rarity in their safe little Mennonite town of Clearbrook)
Stories of her younger years are etched in my mind. She told of the Bolshevik revolutionary army and Stalin's soldiers marauding through Russia's countryside, riding into villages on horses, taking whatever and whomever they pleased.
At the end of the one street in her village near the Dnieper river, was a meeting house. Word spread that a special preacher was holding evangelistic meetings there. She felt a tremendous compulsion and need to go. Against the permission of her parents she went, and was so convicted of her need to make a choice to follow God, that she yielded her life to him, no matter what the cost. Her mother was very angry with her, but she had found a peace and joy that nothing could erase.
Soon she would gather neighbourhood children together and tell them Bible Stories. While doing this one day, loud shouting warned her that soldiers were approaching. In fear she ran with the children and helped them hide in the bushes near the river, hushing them to keep silent, as they listened to wild horses and raucus men thundering through the village. Thankfully, they were not discovered. These soldiers often helped themselves to the little food they had left.
Another graphic story I will never forget.....
She recalls an instance when ten men were ordered to stand in a line and the soldiers used them as shooting targets, killing them one by one. The last man was so frightened that he tried to run. One of the horsemen rode after him and with one fell swoop of the sword instantly decapitated him.
The soldiers raided again and again, tearing fathers & young boys from their families, raping women and young girls. Many were forced into hard labor in Siberia or thrown in prison, never to be seen again. Smallpox and tuberculosis were rampant, so death was a common occurence.
Imagine a young child witnessing such scenes and .. there was no such thing as trauma counselling. They just had to live with these kind of life-long horrific nightmares.

Many, many more stories of her escape from Russia are unbelievably amazing. Her trust in God was her strength.
She laughed as she recalled... while staying in a refugee camp, they were hesitant to eat macaroni for the first time because they looked like worms.
She told of the terrible, long sea voyage to Canada in a freighter, arriving in Montreal, seeing snow for the first time in Winnipeg and working as a maid for rich English folks, learning a new language and culture, then marrying a poor prairie widower with six children.

But here she had found a land of freedom. No wonder she loved Canada! She lived to the age of 100 years old.
So I raise my beautiful Canadian flag in thankfulness to God and in memory of her, I say, "Canada is a wonderful country!"