So I know I only wrote a blog post about pancakes on Saturday, but in all honesty I did so without the realisation that it would be Pancake Day this week…
I realised that fact on Monday.
It's funny the unexpected things that make you feel a bit homesick.
Finding out it was Pancake Day hit me with a little twinge of 'I-miss-the-crazy-house-full-pancake-party-that-would-be-taking-place-with-my-girls-today.'
Anyway, there's only one solution to the problem of being in a country that doesn't celebrate Pancake Day at the precise moment that everything-within-you says you should be.
Introduce Pancake Day.
I mean, it's not such a hard sell really. Everyone (and I mean literally everyone) loves pancakes.
I not-so-subtlety announced the reality of this idea to my language-school-friends yesterday morning and we decided that the best plan of action to solve the problem would be to create our very own Pancake Festival, or パンケーキ祭り, if you will.
We spent a hilarious couple of lunch-time-hours eating copious amounts of pancakes, fruit, cake and other kinds of beautiful Pancake-Day-appropriate food. We drank great coffee. And tea. We laughed a lot. We posed for hilarious photos.
It's funny the unexpected things that help you to overcome homesickness (and realise that you actually feel at home right where God has you).
I mean, I got home yesterday evening and Kayoko had even brought my favourite cake and Twinings (yes, real-life-Twinings!) tea in to surprise me.
I was more blessed than I could articulate. I really was.
I mean, sure, I still miss people. Of course. I'm sure still on the super-excited-countdown to the girls arriving in June. But there's something so precious about being loved and embraced and humoured-with-pancakes right… Here. In this city that I now call home, and love a little bit more everyday, and really believe God's heart burns over.
I really am loving being in Sapporo. So much.
And I really carry a burden in my heart for this place. So big.
For the young people I meet here and the projects I spend time with and the church fellowships that I am now privileged to call family. Real family.
I took an hour or so last night to sit at the piano in our house and just worship Jesus in the free, spontaneous way that means hours become minutes in His Presence.
Kayoko and Obaa-san listen to me play like this and say my music has a calming effect in it's gentleness.
I pray that Holy Spirit will reside in our house in a way that makes His Presence known to them and all who enter it.
Anyway, later last night me and Kayoko were talking last about why I sing or play the piano or write songs or just love music so much.
And I was explaining that the thing is… I wouldn’t call myself a pianist.
A singer? Yes. A guitarist? Yes. Maybe. But a pianist? I’m not so sure.
I really just dabble and have an interesting technique. I'm a kind-of-pretend-pianist-who-enjoys-playing-but-doesn’t-really-have-the-expertise.
But you know something? When I’m busy, or I need to press into the Presence of God, or I need to wind down in my spirit, or quiet my heart and mind, or work out a song, or just really sit at His feet… I find myself at my piano.
Shoes off. Cross-legged on the piano stool. Bible open. Eyes shut. Singing to Him. Hearing Him sing back.
Gazing into those eyes of fire.
Feeling Holy Spirit all around.
Singing the Word. Seeing the colours of heaven. Experiencing the realities of Abba.
It’s always been that way.
For as long as I can remember.
And I was trying to explain this last night. The beauty of God. The intimacy of worship. The joy of relationship. It's funny, but even where words fail me, I think that true joy can't be hidden in Holy Spirit's overflow.
I'm in the middle of writing a Masters essay on prayer right now (how cool, right?!) which means that my reading list includes the rather epic writing of Andrew Murray.
This quote totally floored me the other day,
Let us take time not only to meditate, but to pray, to tarry at the foot of the throne, and be trained to the work of intercession. Let us do so in the assurance that amidst our stammerings and fears He is carrying on His work most beautifully. He will breathe His own life, which is all prayer, into us… Yes, let us most joyfully say, ignorant and feeble though we be, 'Lord, teach us to pray'.
Because this is the thing. The cry of my heart right now is 'Lord, teach me to pray'. 'Lord, change me and melt my heart which is so hardened and cold in prayer sometimes and let it burn with love for You that can't be extinguished.' That's my prayer. But He so graciously sees His own work in changing me as beautiful. He sees my weak attempts at love and prayer as treasure. He delights in my desire, even as Holy Spirit grows it in my heart.
I've been singing this worship song recently with really simple lyrics but I love the mediation it brings….
I love Your power, I love Your ways, I love the fragrance of Your Name.
There's so much power in His Name. In Jesus' Name. Freedom and healing and life and hope and restoration.
And as we wait on Him, we become like Him. We are changed and keep changing and continue growing. The fragrance of His Name rests on us. Because He's beautiful and we're hidden in Him, He calls us beautiful.
I can't ever get my head or my heart around that. Not really. Not fully.
But I do trust that it means we become carriers of the fragrance of Jesus.
And I trust that in my singing, and my piano-playing, and even in my pancake-eating… That in it all, it can be worship. That through it all there can be prayer. And that He can be glorified.
I hit Ezekiel this morning in my Old Testament reading and I was stunned again by that description of the Lord in the very first chapter. It follows some already pretty epic descriptive-angelic-scenes and is so reminiscent of the heavenly setting in the first chapters of Revelation. And more than anything else, these words just remind me again that He's so incredibly awesome and cosmos-shiftingly-mighty, and yet He dwells with us and delights in us.
His love amazes me. And I can only pray that I will love Him more. And more. And more.
I'll leave you with these verses as a mediation… 🙂
Then there came a voice from above the vault over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.
Love you people!!