First Baptist Church is a place where individuals respond to the word of scripture and seek their own interpretation. Where Separation of Church and State and religious liberty are taken very seriously. Where we hold our Baptist beliefs with deep conviction but we hold them in modesty.
» “When God Breaks in... we blink.” by Linda Miller Raff
I know the exact moment God broke in. It was a Thursday at 1 a.m. We were standing speechless in our foyer after a policeman had delivered some incomprehensible news. Chaos and grief rushed into our house as the young policeman rushed out, back to the safety of his patrol car.
We just stood there, trying to get our balance. Unexpected loss— or any kind of loss, really— makes the world tilt. Suddenly the floor slants and you find yourself hanging onto the walls. It's difficult to think and navigating the daily requirements of life is overwhelming and mostly
impossible. Everything feels unsalvageable and broken. Yet it's in those cracks that the light of God breaks in.
At one of the most shattered moments of our lives, God showed up… bearing fried chicken, diapers, conversation, errands, time, love, and a sacred and painful hospitality. What we experienced from our church family wasn't the smooth-jazz-brie-and-jam-canapés kind of hospitality, but the sometimes difficult and always sacred hospitality that says, I have no idea what to say, but I will sit here with you and hold your hand. Or do whatever else I can to let you know that I'm here not just with you, but for you.
At times during that tumultuous next year, being the recipient of that loving, sacred hospitality was uncomfortable for me and I struggled to figure out why. With some hindsight, I think I came to a conclusion.
It felt too much like meeting God.
You see, in my imagination, meeting God is like trying to stare at the sun. No matter how much I want to look, need to look, the light is just too bright. All I can do is blink. Meeting God is meeting love incarnate, love at its most infinite, and it is almost too much to bear. Love like that threatens to crack us open and cause our cultivated facades to fall, our stoicism to splinter. The possibility of revealing our true self at its most devastated and receiving love at its most powerful is uncomfortable, even terrifying. And potentially, transforming.
In my grateful discomfort, I learned that sometimes all I was capable of doing was blinking at God's love coming straight at me in the open arms of my church, and that that was okay. I realized that being filled is sometimes a lot harder than pouring out, but that God is present in both. I experienced what I knew to be true― that we are the hearts and hands of Christ on Earth. We are the power of transformation bringing light and love to those blinking in darkness, whatever their darkness may be.
So go ahead. Break in, as you have been broken into. Because it makes a difference. Because it changes lives.