I was recently nominated to be one of three speakers for our April Ascent service, so I decided to step into this opportunity. Our church recently rebranded and took on the phrase “BeChurch” as their mission statement. I like it. It’s short, simple, and anyone can wear it as their own. They broke it down into three subsections: belong, behold, and become.
At Ascent–a once a month Friday night service–we always are looking through the lens of the way of Jesus, so our leadership team decided this would be a good topic to cover–with three of us on the team highlighting each subsection and I was to cover behold.
I haven’t been attending the regular church services, so I had no idea where my talk was going to go. I put it off until I knew I had the mental capacity to process what I wanted to talk about and that was about an hour or two before our service was going to start. Have I ever mentioned that my some of my best work comes from procrastination?
The thing is, I actually had been thinking about what I was going to say for some time, but I only had seven minutes to talk. So after I woke up from my Friday afternoon nap, I opened up my Notes app on my phone and started writing.
Actually a lot of what I wrote early that evening, were topics I’ve covered on my blog: my 2019 mantra of being present, how I don’t like church, and how a Johnnyswim song about being known made me feel the presence of God at their concert.
I also mentioned that someone had shared Exodus 14:14 with me a while ago and it knocked me off my feet. The verse says, “The Lord will fight for you, you only have to be still.” To bring context to this verse, it’s in the middle of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. If you don’t know the story, read it here. But Moses is telling the Israelites to be present, focus on what just happened. I mean, you remember the scene from The Prince of Egypt when you can see the whale in the water? Or maybe it was a shark? (Watch it here.) Yes, it’s absolutely terrifying knowing the mean, scary guy is coming after you with his army, and yet, God does His God thing, parts a freaking sea and they cross with no problem (can’t really say that about the Pharaoh’s army).
It’s interesting because when you look up the word “behold” in the Bible, it’s there to get your attention. Seriously. Something is about to happen and the authors want to make sure you’re paying attention. How many times, do we allow the things of life to distract us from beholding the glory and beauty of Jesus? I’ll be the first to raise my hand and admit that. Which is why I’m working on being present.
To behold God, to be church, to be present, is to pay attention to what God is doing in your life. And let me tell you, it’s life changing.
So that’s when it happened. BEHOLD.
After the service, I was catching up with some friends. A girl about my age was standing a little bit away from me. I couldn’t tell if she was waiting to talk to me or someone else, but as she kept standing there I got the sense she was there to talk to me. I turned to her, introduced myself, and she excitedly said, “Exodus 14:14 has been my verse for this year!” She went on to introduce herself, showed me where she had highlighted it in her Bible and then showed me all the places she had written about this verse in her journal. We went on to talk about both of our journeys and how meaningful this verse was to the both of us.
BEHOLD. Are you paying attention?
No more than 30 minutes later, I was helping clean up with one of my good friends, when another friend came up to me and thanked me for what I had shared. They told me they couldn’t believe how vulnerable I had been up front. My good friend just looked at me and I couldn’t help but smile, and she said, “You just gave her the biggest compliment!” and we all laughed a bit. We went on to talk for about 20 minutes on the power of sharing (something I learned from Brene Brown a long time ago). This friend had recently shared something with our leadership team, it was a powerful moment to be a part of, and I had been meaning to thank them for sharing exactly where they were at, at the time, with us. As the three of us continued talking, there was a light in this person’s eyes (and maybe a tear or two). It’s funny, because I had almost walked away from this conversation, worrying about cleaning up, but it was as if God kept my feet planted and said, “Stay here, right here in this moment, I have something special for you.”
The next day, I was texting someone about how everything had gone and I shared the two stories above. Their response just reminded me of just how GOOD God is. They said, “If this isn’t an affirmation that you’re absolutely in the right place at the right time in the journey, I don’t know what else would show you…God’s definitely using you, Lauren!”
When I was young, I used to watch this movie, Extreme Days, (okay let’s be real, I still watch it sometimes), but there’s this line at the end of the movie that will forever stick with me, it goes like this:
“When God throws a curveball, don’t duck you just might miss something.”
There have been a lot of curveballs in my life, especially as of late. I wonder a lot, why I’m still up to bat–and then, behold, these God moments happen and remind me why I’m still here. Sometimes those moments are life changing and you can’t help but notice them because they rock your world. Other times, they’re big enough to probably get your attention. Yet, often, they’re smaller moments that can go unnoticed if you’re not paying attention. It’s then, we have to remind ourselves, to be still, to be present, because the Lord will always fight for us.