Monday, March 5, 2012

Heart Strangely Warmed

These are the words of John Wesley.  The full quote from his journal of May 24, 1738 is:

In the evening, I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans.  About a quarter before nine, while the leader was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.  

I heard this phrase, my heart strangely warmed, numerous times this weekend at the Wesleyan Theological Society annual meeting on the Trevecca Nazarene University campus in Nashville TN.  It is an oft repeated phrase in Wesleyan circles.  Thousands, if not millions of words, have been written about Wesley’s Aldersgate experience.

My heart was strangely warmed this weekend at the conference.  I found a warm welcome by most of the people in attendance.  My husband, who also attended, felt likewise.  While not always the case in Nazarene circles, this time it seemed that someone said let’s move over and make room for one more.  I desired to be part of this group in increasing ways.  Time will tell if they will move over and make room for me again. 

I am particularly grateful to Dr. Michael Lodahl.  Others had turned our presentation down but he made room for us.  What I have seen of the man personifies grace.  His openness, as well as others, to my husband seemed to me as a means of grace exhibiting a sacramental show of hospitality.  Further grace extended through the celebration of Eucharist at the end of the proceedings.  Together my husband and I received the sacrament.  Thanks be to God.

I suppose one could wonder if God was attempting another Pentecost during this meeting.  There was a sound of a rushing mighty wind swirling through Nashville and the surrounding areas while we feasted on scholarly presentations.  All day Nashvillians had “tarried and waited” for the storm.  It came.  A tornado touched down in the tiny town where I live while I listened to hail and wind inside the walls of familiar classrooms at Trevecca.

My daughter was in a shelter at the mall where she works.  My son’s studying was interrupted to go to the basement of the medical library.  My husband with no sense of direction was driving back to the conference as hail beat his car.  He did arrive safely.

Yesterday was the first time we had a chance to assess damage.  We toured in sorrow the center of our tiny town.  The church I belong to had significant damage.  The siding on the city hall building looks like Swiss cheese.  Large trees were uprooted awaiting a chain saw.  Our own house has minimal damage.  Our cars show signs of hail damage. 
Stained-glass window destroyed

Notice the two stained-glass windows in the back of the sanctuary

Airing and drying the Bibles and Hymnals

Siding on buildings all over Kingston Springs look like Swiss cheese

My heart was strangely warmed in the midst of the storm.  Numerous calls from our youngest daughter to assure we were safe warmed my heart.  Facebook messages from friends near and far – are you okay? -- warmed my heart. 

Today I am thinking about those whose hearts were broken by this storm.  I am thinking about those whose families are forever changed by this devastation.  I am praying that God Himself will come and envelop them and that their hearts will be strangely warmed by His comfort and love. 

Heartwarming doesn’t just come from God. As marvelous, miraculous, and needful as that is, heartwarming also comes from the words, are you okay?

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