Weekly Update–“Open Our Eyes, Lord, We Want to See Jesus”

Millard Community Covenant Church. Weekly Update for the Week of March 5-11
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By Kristen Rae Nelson

Hello, dear family!  I pray that you’re well, and enjoying this sunny and relatively breeze-free day that we’ve been having.  🙂  And I also pray that God’s been working in your heart this week, as we walk through Lent together.


This has been, so far, a wonderful and God-focused time of Lent for me.  But when God reveals Himself to us, He also tends to reveal things about our own hearts that we need to begin to work on–things that we’ve maybe been ignoring, over-looking, or putting off.  He lovingly revealed one of those things to me this week, as I picked up my normal “Wednesday coffee” at my favorite coffee shop.


I have a habit of chatting with the ladies who mix and make the wonderful lattes at “Friends on the Square”, my go-to hang-out spot, as they make my 24-ounce white chocolate peppermint mocha latte for me.  🙂  It’s been wonderful getting to know them, and becoming more familiar with them.  We chat about our lives, about ministry, about current events–all sorts of things.   It’s a fun, upbeat place to sit a spell and have a sip of coffee.


This past Wednesday, as I sat and sipped and conversed, the young barista behind the counter who I have become familiar with stated excitedly, “I saw you last night at the gym!”


I was taken aback, since I didn’t remember seeing her at all the previous night.  I began to play back my time at the gym–elliptical, bike, track, weight machines.  No where in there did I remember seeing her.  “You did?!” I asked, astonished.  “When?  I didn’t see  you at all!”


“Well, you seemed to be off in your own little world,” she confessed.  “I tried to get your attention, but you were just staring off into space, so I left you alone.”  She smiled a little smile, and went back to stirring my coffee.


Her comment wasn’t meant as a jab, but it sure felt like one.  It hit me to the core.  Let me give you a bit of a “back story”…


When I first moved here, one of the things that I wanted to do was join a gym.  Of course, my main motivation was fitness and health.  But my secondary motivation was to meet people.  I wanted to find a neutral place to form relationships and friendships with people, and I figured that the gym would be the perfect place to accomplish that.  But my expectations of friend-making were quickly shattered.  I would go to the gym ready and willing to converse with people–at the water fountains, on the stairs, in the locker rooms, etc.–but my attempts at making small talk were always met with stares of disinterest and disdain.  Eventually, I felt my willing and open smile turn to a blank and hostile stare.  If they didn’t want to talk to me, then I didn’t want to talk to them.


It wasn’t until this week, when I was so lost in my own “self-pity” that I completely missed the smiling barista waving at me from the StairMaster, that I realized how cold my heart had turned.  Instead of being open to friendship, to relationship, to friendly love, I had inadvertently shut it off. Whoa…


Can you relate?  Have you been hurt in your past, dismissed instead of accepted, ignored, or pushed aside, only to find yourself closing your heart off, putting up wall, and steeling your heart as you look to the future?  It’s an understandable and human reaction to want to protect ourselves when we get hurt–to want to close off parts of our hearts to protect them from pain and suffering.


But when we do this–when we hole-up in a dark room of pain and despair–then we miss out on experiencing the light that comes shining our way.  We miss out on basking in the joy that comes from relationships, from new bonds, from love that wants to wiggle its way into our lives.  These relationships come from other people, and most importantly, from God.


“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:4-7


This Lenten season, God is calling us to open our hearts and our eyes to Him.  He’s calling us to look around, and look inside–to become aware of what needs cleaning out, what needs fixing, and what needs healing.  I think that when we finally open up to Him, we’ll be amazingly surprised by His peace, love, and grace.


I’m praying for you, family!

-Pastor Kristen