Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn’t fall, for it was founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn’t do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell—and great was its fall— Matthew 7:24–27
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy spirit. With a loud voice she blurted out, “God has blessed you above all women and he has blessed the child you carry. Why do I have this honor that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”- Luke 1: 42-44
Hugh and I have a few funny stories of when we were first getting to know each other and dating each other, and the lengths we went to impress each other. I’ve known and loved Hugh for a long time. Last year was our 30th wedding anniversary, so clearly my rather feeble attempts at looking important and special actually worked.
My (almost embarrassing) story is that I told him I liked camping. Yeah. I laughed even as I wrote that. I frankly hate camping. My idea of ‘roughing it’ is to book into a 4 star hotel instead of a 5 star. My thinking is that why would I give up my bed and window screens for a sleeping bag and mosquitos? Don’t get me wrong; I love being outdoors. I like looking at the outdoors. I like campfires and swimming. I just don’t want to sleep there. I also really value indoor plumbing.
It took, well, one planning of a camping trip that included phrases like “I don’t think you’ll be able to portage carrying that in your backpack” that Hugh and I realized that camping was not something that was one of my skill areas, or even one of my preferred recreational activities. I often wonder why I came up with ‘camping’ of all things when we were describing our likes and dislikes to each other. It certainly would’ve been easier just to say “yeah, no” when it came up instead of perpetuating the myth and having to back track later on. Maybe it was insecurity? That I didn’t believe that I would be ‘good enough’ just on my own, exactly as I am? Regardless, I just went ahead and built my house on that shifting sand, and so when the winds of the relationship blew, down it came.
I have an acquaintance that has built their whole life on shifting sand. For reasons that I don’t quite understand, they presented themselves as having a whole history and past of accomplishments that didn’t happen. It was extraordinarily painful to me to find out that their life was untrue. I tell people all the time that I value truth above all. And I do. And I have very little tolerance for people who are dishonest. But then I remember my whole camping story, and I recognize the need to take the proverbial log out of my own eye before I comment on the splinters in others.
And I wonder what has happened that we can’t present ourselves to the world exactly as we are – warts and all, or maybe lack of sleeping bags and all? What has happened that we need to build up false lives on shifting sand instead of God’s life on the solid rock?
And this week – frankly – its clear to me that its because we operate out of pretty empty places. The Luke reading for this week is a retelling of the story of Mary and Elizabeth. Elizabeth, as the older sister with a history of loss and judgement (she refers to herself as being ‘disgraced’ in verse 25) finally is pregnant, and her younger sister shows up on her doorstep. And Elizabeth, is ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’. And what comes from this ‘filling’?
Well, in a word – blessing.
Not judgement. Not condemnation. Not even pregnancy story one-upping.
But its because of the ‘filling’. Its because of the ‘full-filling’ or ‘fulfillment’ of the Holy Spirit.
I coming to the place where I recognize that I can only be exactly who I am if I come from a place of fulfillment. And that’s something that I recognize is more than impressing a potential boyfriend or a bunch of acquaintances. Its more than being able to impress some people in power or make a ton of money.
Its more than this world. And so, its God.
So, my dear Bethel friends – join me in this miracle of filling; of ‘full-filling’ and of fulfilment that is offered to us freely. Because then we can offer blessings. And we can offer Love.