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D’Marcus and the Kingdom Invitation

For several years, our church hosted a thing we call Cowboy Church.  This was our version of VBS, and we hosted it not only at our church but in several inner-city settings.

One year, we did Cowboy Church at Bethlehem Center in downtown Augusta (side note:  downtown Augusta boasts the fourth poorest zip code in Georgia). We got to hang out for a week with about two dozen precious children who live pretty rough lives.  I think the take-away image for me from that week was opening the door one night to the room in which I’d been working to find my husband, Steve, carrying little D’Marcus by his armpits … little D’Marcus had one foot on one door jam and the other foot on the other door jam, and he was screaming, “I don’t want to go in there!”  And Steve was so patiently smiling and saying, “That’s fine … But we are going in there!”  And you’d think that a kid being shoved into a room by his armpits would not bounce back, but five minutes later, little D’Marcus was having the time of his life, and the next day little D’Marcus was right there with us again …

And I think of Steve holding him by the armpits and I think of this passage in Isaiah:  In his love and mercy he redeems us.  He lifts us up and carries us through all the years.  And I wonder if God might have meant that kind of lifting sometimes?  Because sometimes I think the way we get in there … into that place where the mercy and love of God is … happens less like the gentle lifting of a baby and more like the way Steve lifted little D’Marcus.  Are you with me on that?  Have you ever been there?

“I will tell of the Lord’s unfailing love.”  A love so strong that it will lift us even when we don’t want to be lifted … a love stubborn enough to hang with us when we want to argue the point … A love so severe that, as Paul put it to the Hebrews, he would also become flesh and blood so  he could be in every respect like us … so he could be our merciful and faithful high priest before God … lifting us before the throne … Unfailing love, Isaiah calls it.  The kind of love that will not give up, that will stop at nothing, that will go to any length.  The kind of love that will suffer with us, die for us, lift us up, carry us.  The kind of love that is both whole and holy, giving and forgiving, universal and everlasting.  Psalm 139 says it is the kind of love from which we can not escape.  David writes, “If I go up to heaven, you are there.  If I go down to the place of the dead, you are there.  If I ride on the wings of morning, if I dwell in the furthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.  I could ask for darkness to hide me … but even in darkness I can not hide from you.”  Unfailing love.

Do you know that the astronauts can testify to the truth of what David wrote?  One of the early Apollo astronauts … as he walked on the moon … said, “I felt something other than what we can physically sense.  A spiritual presence was there.  I realized (my partner and I) were the only two on this planet … the moon … another world … We were the only two there, but we felt (listen to this) we felt an unseen love.  We were not alone.”  Isn’t that something?  There is a love so real, so awesome, that it can not be contained … There is no sin outside the reach of his mercy … no stain too stubborn for the Blood … no person who can not be lifted up …

You know … I happen to think there is a little of the spirit of D’Marcus inside each of us … do you sense that inside yourself, or is it just me?  … a fight going on inside … and it seems to be come alive especially when we reach the threshold of a new spiritual room … a place God is calling us that we haven’t been yet.  We get right up to it, but then something within us resists and we end up with one foot on one door jam, and the other foot on the other door jam, screaming, “I don’t want to go in there!”  I fight not because I know what’s best for myself, but precisely because I don’t.  I fight, because like the Israelites, I’m afraid of death … not physical death … I don’t want to die to my comforts or to my place at the center of my universe or to my right to choose my own way.   But here’s the thing, folks … and here’s what I really want to say to you tonight … That fighting spirit inside of me and inside of you needs to hear that inside that room … only you know the name of it, but its the one God is calling you to walk into next … inside that room you will die, but you will also be met by the mercy and love of God.  So its okay.

Carolyn Moore

I follow Jesus.

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Holiness is at least this: a design of life that exposes us most fully to the heart of a good, loving and creative God.