I had it all wrong. And for some time.

But, an awareness came to greet me like a welcomed friend, one I hadn’t seen in a long time.

Bill and I went into the city Monday for a little afternoon getaway. We meandered through the sidewalk gardens, marveling at the artistic ingenuity and undisturbed beauty in the midst of the downtown chaotic hubbub. The sun shined on our side of the street so it was warm as we held hands and walked toward the river on Michigan Avenue taking in the splendor of this gigantic intersection called Chicago. The architecture always inspires me. The intersection of the modern and the ancient is so exciting to me.  The superior man-made steel cages enclosed in glass embellished with the ancient God-made stone and marble chiseled from a process that took millions of years to make sparked something deeply creative within me. The whole cacophony of sight and sound, vision and implementation, money and desire, faith and reality…. it's beautiful to me.

I soaked in that essence for a while. 

We stopped for an afternoon treat and coffee at a restaurant located on the sixteenth floor of one of those towering skyscrapers. They are truly modern marvels. I sipped my coffee and gazed at the panoramic skyline exhibited before me. I just took it all in. It was so beautiful. An intersection of beauty, style and grace. It was during my deep appreciation of it all an awareness saturated my soul.

Intersections. They are beautiful!

For most of my life, I believed intersections were stressful and to be avoided. I become very anxious and overwhelmed when many divergent things like styles, beliefs or visions come to a head. An ancient belief has guided my life. There had to be one right way, one correct answer, one specific will and I missed it. This is especially true in my own faith life. I’ve struggled to know God’s plan in my life. There has been no overarching goal, no single-minded direction that propelled me forward. I’m more like Mr. Magoo and less like someone who’s an inspired visionary.

But, while I was seated in that beautiful restaurant on the sixteenth floor, a new awareness was brought to my attention. The diversity of our Chicago skyline makes life interesting. Divine in nature. Inspiring to behold. Many collaborative decisions were made over time to create something so completely one of a kind and never to be repeated again….a priceless masterpiece lovely to observe and invigorating to the soul. 

Matthew chapter 6 indicates there are behaviors that become fundamental for believers. The Christlike behaviors are to be practiced among the hypocrites—the actors in society. I couldn’t help but think about how to apply this section of Jesus’ sermon in our present day lives. How do we practice Christlike giving, prayer and fasting among the actors in Chicago, our town or village or in our relationships? Is Jesus asking us to collaborate with him, instead of, simply following his orders and going through the motions because he told us to do so? Giving, prayer and fasting require our participation, input and response.

Quite frankly, I don’t follow orders well. I am a sinner. I go my own way. I don’t always know what to give, how to pray and I stink at fasting! I continue to beat myself up because I should know all of this, especially, the will of God by now. But, I don’t. I honestly try to avoid interactions where Jesus and I come to a head because I don’t always want to follow him or go in his direction. But, here is a new thought, a different perspective. What if at those intersections where Jesus and I meet he actually gives me the grace to decide which direction I want to go. Over time, those intersections actually make my life interesting….like a priceless masterpiece lovely to observe and invigorating to the soul. What if during those very anxious decision making times in my life were Jesus' favorite times in our relationship?

What was the awareness I received on the sixteenth floor Monday? Intersections can be beautiful. The diversity of decision making whether Jesus chose or I chose actually makes life more interesting and beautiful not embarrassing. I don’t have to have a plan. I am different from the one next to me. And maybe that is okay with Jesus. As a matter of fact, it is exactly what he has always wanted me to know.

‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth (within my heart) as it is in heaven.’ Matthew 6:9 NIV

Pastor Jen