My TIE Value: Delight in the Lord
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again. Rejoice!” - Philippians 4:4 (NIV)
Here in Toronto we are tired of mucking around snow by the time we get to March. We are now suffering from snow fatigue. Normally our winters have 6-7 snow storms with a full or partial melt in between each storm. This makes snow much more delightful because there is always somewhere to put the snow during a good shovel. However, without a snow melt all winter, there are rather large mountains of snow in our yards and parking lots. We pray for no more snow mainly because we have nowhere else to put it.
As I was shoveling a trench around my house in preparation for March’s massive melt (avoid a massive flood into the house), I discovered a layer of solid ice at the bottom of the snow from our massive December 22 ice storm. That storm left many residences without power for weeks. We even cancelled church. The trees were bent and breaking under the weight of the ice. All these memories were flooding through my thoughts as I was breaking and removing the ice and snow away from my house. However there was one thought that brought me much delight.
On that icy December 23 Sunday, my oldest daughter started our massive puzzle project that would take almost a week to finish. This puzzle was the Bavarian version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs who appeared to also be inside on a snowy winter day. There was much delight in the process of completing this puzzle with high fives for every piece fitted together (as noted in Blog #3). There was also much more delight in completing the puzzle with cheers. Then for a week, I found myself looking at this picture with many delightful thoughts for the next week.
This puzzle showed the ever so radiant Snow White was holding a freshly baked pie. She was surrounded by the seven dwarfs who were lighting lights, preparing a table, getting wood, making repairs, and showing appreciation for Snow White. It is a beautiful picture that depicts everyone was contributing to the well-being of the household.
After getting reacquainted with the story of Snow White, I was reminded how she came to live with these seven dwarfs. She was put in the woods by her step-mother queen to die when she found her way into this house while the men were out. After Snow White was discovered by the seven men, she had to agree to cook, clean, iron, and care for the seven dwarfs in order to have a place to live. Snow White did all these chores even though she was a princess! Not only did she keep a great house, she also baked desert. She took delight even in her situation.
Her life as it was portrayed was anything put delightful even though she was a princess. Her mother died shortly after naming her with the affectionate name. Her father took another queen who was self-absorbed in being the most beautiful in the kingdom. And when her trustworthy magic mirror revealed that the young princess was the most beautiful in the kingdom. This queen sought to have Snow White killed by having a huntsman abandon her in the forest. How could a princess possibly survive in the wild? It was ultimately by this new community on the fringe of their society that Snow White was spared. So somewhere in between her abandonment and the twist of the queen’s cursed apple, there is this picture of a caring household depicted in the puzzle.
My TIE Moment:
As I thought about ministry in the context of this Snow White puzzle, I began to ponder the kind of picture we portray in God’s narrative as a church. At times ministry in any church can seem like a fairy tale about how a community ideally should be. We all know Jesus said something about serving each other, loving our enemies, abiding in Him, going out into the world and much more. Paul and Peter write about how we are to be sacrifices, and holy people who are able to live out God’s purposes during our times. Can we really expect this type of community among imperfect people? For many reasons, I believe the answer is a resounding “YES!” The Bible is full of examples and exhortations that God’s calling upon us is real and not a fairy tale.
How are we to live in such an ideal narrative with imperfect people in our churches who all live in an increasingly sinful world?
Paul tells us in Philippians 4:4 to “Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again. Rejoice!” (NIV) We ought to bring an active component of rejoicing to our church communities the same way Snow White baked desert for her dwarf community. Here are a few Biblical references that show the kind of people who again and again rejoice in the Lord:
- Those who are righteous and upright rejoice in singing (Ps 32:11)
- Those who delight in their salvation (Ps. 35:9)
- Those who dedicate their thoughts to God (Ps. 104:34)
- Those who are humble enough to need God (Isa. 29:19)
- Those who are spared from God’s judgment (Isa. 41:6)
- Those who are thankful for God’s provisions (Joel 2:23)
In the light of God’s Good News and after reading the end of Revelation where we know God will include His church among the victorious, we too are people with much rejoicing to do now and forever. We may be tired of the trudging through the muck of our world. However, if we dig through the layers of God’s blessings we will find many real life examples that will compel us to delight in our God.
How can our church gatherings portray a genuine snapshot of a rejoicing community?