Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Wine and the Winepress

Oswald Chambers said that we often see the "wine" of people's lives, without having to see them going through the "winepress."  

As I've spent this amazing weekend at the Linger conference, I wondered, "God, why did you bring me 1,120 miles from home, just to tell me I need to spend intimate time 'Lingering' with You?  Couldn't You have found a cheaper, more efficient way to remind me of this truth--that still involved some sleep & solitude?"  :). 

Of course, He could have.  He could have let me see Shane & Shane, learn from Jennie Lee Riddle, hear Matt Chandler, etc.  I could have drank deeply of the "wine" of these teachers, absorbed their wisdom and experiences--but then I never would have heard the stories of the winepress...

I met this guy, Darrin, who went through a very interesting career change.  He was in the military when his parachute didn't open properly, and caught his leg in the straps.  His back was badly injured, and of course, he couldn't jump out of planes any more.  Did I mention he had a wife & kids to support?  

It put our family's struggle with the academia-vs-business career paths in perspective, let me tell you.  

Then I met this guy--the founder of a small business that makes bean bag chairs for churches.  You can check him out at

 Now, they're AWESOME,(and I spent two hours sleeping on one yesterday) but the desire of his heart was to be in ministry.  "My M.Div really prepared me for the bean-bag business," he said with an eye roll.  But he has four kids, and wanted his wife to be able to stay home...and bean bags paid better than ministry.  He had to experience the long slow death of a dream.

Then I took a class from Randall  Bayne:
He wrote a play that went to Broadway.  Seriously.  It only took him twelve years, a ton of rejection and heartache, constant criticism from the Church for using profanity or secular environments in his art, and the constant, nagging feeling that what he was doing wouldn't *accomplish* anything.  

This guitar player/songwriter blew me away: 

(His name is Sean Carter, and you can listen to his amazing song "The Desert" at this link on Youtube--just know his voice is actually 1000x better than that recording.)

  I spent a little time talking with him, and found out that he and his wife literally didn't sleep for three years.  Three. Years.  (I just met his wife, who took the picture, and she corrected him: it was five years for HER.  Sean is just a deeper sleeper.). 

Their daughter had a perfect storm of medical conditions that wouldn't allow her to sleep--so she screamed all night.  They would hold her, hand her off, doze, rinse, repeat.  His incredibly energetic wife, Christi, STILL can't sleep consistently. She said, "Eight hours of sleep means PARTY TIME!!"

I've struggled for years with sleep--but I thought I was the only one. 

Oh, and the beautiful lady singing next to Sean? That's Crystal Yates:

She has one of the most beautiful voices I've ever heard.  Ever.  (The other would be Christine Kimball.). Crystal has a 17 year old.  And a one year old.  (Do the math.). This baby came *after* she and her husband Will gave away everything they had to live with and be mentored by a worship leader they'd never met. She didn't complain, but my guess is that it was stressful. Mildly stressful.  Just mildly.  

My favorite story of the trip was of the mom of four kids who wrote a worship song using only four chords on the guitar--because they were the only four guitar chords she knew.  She'd been making spaghetti and changing diapers and teaching classes and was EXHAUSTED...and then it took another *nine years* before that song was ever released to a wider audience.  

Her name? Jennie Lee Riddle.  Her husband is Darrin, the former paratrooper the first picture.  The song was Revelation Song.

The icing on the cake?  Finding out that this guy on the far right end of the panel didn't go on a date till he was 30!! 
Yeah, that's Shane Barnard.  

I'd heard all of my life that believers have God fighting on our behalf, that we're over comers, that of course we suffer, but, you know...VICTORY!!! There's such an insidious lie that worms through the underbelly of my theology:  if things are going badly for you, you must not be doing something right.  You need to do more.  Try harder.  You're not married yet?  You're not in the ministry or career you want?  You don't have enough money?  You don't have kids?  You have too many kids?  Do more.  Try harder.  Things don't go badly for believers if you're REALLY walking with Christ. 

Yes they do.  They go badly, even if I'm doing everything "right."  Dreams get derailed.  People get sick.   Children come and go and change me. Marriages need work. Or marriage doesn't come at all!  Sometimes, it has NOTHING to do with anything I've done or haven't done.  

Yet, in the midst of all their pain,or their   struggles, or their "wine-pressing-moments", these people I met here at Linger trusted God.  

And they created.  

And we drink their delicious wine, the fruit of their labors, without ever seeing the pain of the winepress.  

Thank You, Lord, for bringing me 1120 miles to show me the winepress.  Thank You for Linger.  Thank You for rest. 

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