Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tastes of Heaven

Ps 34:1-8

I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.

My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.

This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

I don’t ever remember a time in my life when I was not aware of God’s existence. There was a time I walked in darkness, but even then, I knew that there was a God who loved me. I also know there have definitely been times and seasons when it seemed that He was specifically reaching out to me. Giving me a chance to get to know Him, and that He was good, Small “tastes of heaven”.

The most clear of these moments I experienced was the summer before highschool when I was at a crossroads in my life. Two definite paths lay before me, and it was one of the the darkest seasons of my life until that point. I doubted that God cared about me even if He was real, what was the point in living for Him? It was in that moment that He reached out to me in such a personal and dramatic way, that it forever changed the course of my life. It effected every decision thereafter and shaped the core of who I was to become (and continue to become). So strongly was I effected (the joy of my salvation) – that even the remembrance of that afternoon, rights my soul- my mind, will and emotions, without fail.

More tastes of heaven followed in the years after that. One was at a Christian Rock concert in London, Ontario. It was moving when the band opted not to play their set list, and instead lead the crowd of several thousand in spontaneous praise. (not common in 1990) Shortly after that, I attended a conference, and the worship leader lead a group of mixed denominations in worship that transcended divided hearts and beliefs systems, and united them with the single focus of Jesus. Another was after a morning bible study and coming across a wooden cross at the top of a hill, and taking a moment to pray…breathtaking.

I started leading worship when I was 11, and I distinctly remember being inspired to sing with words that were not mine at a youth retreat at Chesley Lake. It actually took me by surprise and I tried to distance myself from what I had no knowledge (especially since there were older kids who had “waited on God” for years for the Holy Spirit. I do remember though that after that I began to take early steps in leading out at youth meetings and Bible studies. I also know that it was around that time that I began to become insatiably hungry for God’s Word.

As was typical of the day, a number of years followed with various events where my spiritual development was very up and down, and a lot of time was spent repenting for things I’d already been forgiven of J God is so faithful. Years later, I was now involved in a leadership program at a thriving church and of course participating in the music and worship – a couple of choirs, drama, worship leading, bible studies, etc. The summer I turned 17 I remember having the priviledge of leading worship for the final service of a national conference. The most amazing moment of that morning was when we got about ¾ through the order and began to sing Great is Thy Faithfulness, and suddenly I couldn’t see or hear anyone around me, but instead, everything fell away and I was literally given audience before the Throne room, and I heard our praises blend into the praises that continually were being offered in heaven. Amazing, it took my breath away.

I did not know that this was to become a reoccurring theme in my life. The following summer, I remember we had begun an outreach program for children, Expecting about 20 kids a day, we were shocked when the first day we had about 100 kids. By the end of the summer we’d seen more than 500 kids pass through our door. Part of the program I was responsible for was the music and worship portion which was interspersed with bible stories and lessons. We taught the kids a lot of silly songs, but always ended with a couple of simple love songs to Jesus. One day something just happened, none of us leaders could continue to sing when the kids got to “Shine Jesus Shine”, I had opened my eyes and literally, the kids were all radiating, they were literally shining with love. Once again, breathtaking.

The weekend I decided to attend Bible School I was in the middle of a quest for my own identity. I was sitting in a Toronto hotel room with my mom waiting to attend a service, when Oral Roberts came on the TV (that was the one and only time I ever heard him share a sermon) – he was speaking on Palm Tree Believers (Tammara means Palm Tree) – and once again it was like heaven came down into the room and drove everything away, and using Oral Roberts, he step by step showed me who I was born to be.

While attending Bible College, there were a few times when being a participant on the worship team allowed me to taste heaven again. One of these times was a prayer breakfast in which a passion for the unreached people of the world was burned into my heart. A definate time i know I tasted heaven was while in India at a Pastor's Seminar, seeing not only how hungry they were, but then after receiving the word with gladness, seeing thousands of them praise and worship God with a unity, passion and genuiness that I have rarely seen since. I couldn't understand a word they sang, but my heart was lifted to the throne room once again where words are often irrelevant.

After graduating and being in ministry for several years later there were seasons where it felt like these tastes of heaven diminished, but one that stand out was Mothers Day 2001 (my first mothers day after a miscarriage and very close to what would have been my due date) I was travelling in Eastern Canada, and expected to lead worship though in that moment my heart was broken and I thought it impossible to sing, and yet in my brokenness, I tasted heaven that day and received peace and healing. I remember that season was when I became transparent in my faith and life.

God is so incredible that even in our humanness, we are presented with banquets where we can feast ourselves on His grace. Through marriage, childbirth, death and blessings that can’t be counted, we taste it over and over again whenever we express gratitude.

After my dad passed away 2 years ago, again I tasted heaven (the goodness of God). In my sorrow I still had to sing, and once again, just like all those years earlier, I was caught up into the throne room of heaven, only this time my eyes caught glimpses of the great cloud of witnesses that worshipped Him, and in that crowd I saw my dad. I saw Him the way God had always seen him, the finished work. Radiating life and complete in every way. Astounding and breathtaking and beautiful.

Knowing that He will always provide me a refuge and an opportunity to taste heaven is once again, astounding and breathtaking and beautiful.

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