Parachute Lights & The Peace of Christ (They’re better than frown lines and fewer friends)

Click to read about the rehearsal dinner that led to parachute lights and the peace of Christ rather than frown lines and fewer friends. via www.JeanWilund.com

Forty-five people were coming to dinner, and it looked like we’d have no place to seat them.

This wasn’t just a regular dinner.

As if dinner for 45 people is ever a regular dinner.

Our son Bobby and his fiancee Kaitlyn were getting married, and this was their rehearsal dinner.

The groom’s family has one job. Just one. Feed the wedding party and special guests the night before the wedding. That’s it.

Plus, you want to impress the new in-laws, so they don’t grab their daughter and run.

So, what do you do when you learn the night before the dinner that there may not be a place to feed the 45 people coming?

“Peace I leave with you;
My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Do not let your heart be troubled,
nor let it be fearful.”
~ John 14:27


Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

Forty-five people are coming for an alfresco dinner with forecasts of thundershowers and the possibility of no place to seat them and keep them dry, but do not let your heart be troubled.

Sure, no problem.

My husband Larry and I pulled into Black Mountain, NC. and stopped by The Mill Pizzeria to size up the situation. 

While Jay, the owner of the restaurant, explained that the city hadn’t given him the permits he needed to finish the structure that would host our rehearsal dinner party the very next night, Larry and I listened and smiled.

I was going for a relaxed and casual smile as though I wasn’t worried at all that the dinner would be anything but a huge success. I’m not sure I achieved anything more than an awkward look.

Jay shared his vision for how he’d transform this construction site into the perfect, romantic setting for our dinner for 45 people in just 24 hours.

Did I mention there would be 45 people coming for dinner in 24 hours?

He explained how he’d take the rain-soaked parachute currently covering the footings and tie it to the excavator, which looked like a small steam shovel to me. He’d use it to hoist the parachute over one of the large tables.

If an army green parachute held up by a small steam shovel doesn’t shout wedding, then I guess I don’t know what does.

I fought the urge to laugh but couldn’t hold it in any longer when he said his next statement:

“Don’t worry. This place looks much better in the dark.”

Bahaha! I lost it — and now I have a new favorite line to repeat often.

 

I’m In

Jay instantly won me over.

All I could think was, “I’m in! Whatever he’s got planned, I gotta see it now.”

Besides, I knew the food would be great. His pizza is quite famous. Bobby and Kaitlyn chose it because it’s their favorite restaurant in Black Mountain.

What did it really matter if we had to eat in the rain, right?

There was a time when all this would have caused me to fret and pull my hair out.

Before I’d have been so stressed I would’ve snapped at Larry, the kids, and the dog if they even breathed wrong.

But over the years God has been graciously leading me through stressful situations and patiently pointing me to truth as I’ve studied His Word.

Studying God’s Word is a vital part. Before I studied God’s Word, emotions attacked me and truth eluded me.

Over time, God’s truth has begun to click and sink in as I’ve obeyed it.

Obeying God’s Word is the other vital part. If I studied it, but then didn’t do it, how could I expect His promised results? And His truths don’t really click until you put them to the test and see how faithful they are.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
~ John 14:27

For those who’ll actually take God at His Word, Christ’s peace will fill your heart, and stress will dissolve in His presence.

Those who’ll choose to believe Christ will be able to choose not to let their hearts be troubled or be fearful.

That Thursday, Larry and I drove off in excited anticipation as to just how bizarre of a rehearsal dinner we’d be hosting.

One day earlier I’d not been so victorious.


What a difference a day makes

One day earlier I was sitting at my kitchen table throwing a crying fit. No peace to be found.

Would you be surprised to hear that a computer was involved? Not many things can bring a person to their knees faster than modern technology. 

I was trying to put together a sentimental video of Bobby and Kaitlyn’s life and love, but I couldn’t get the sound to work with the photos.

Then I realized that the wonderful Ken Burn’s Effect had effectively cut off their heads in many of the photos, and there didn’t appear to be an easy way to fix that.

I had wonderful, clear shots of their stomachs, but it’s not quite the same as seeing their smiling faces. 

I dissolved into tears. Larry could only hug me because computers bring him to his knees too.

But then, suddenly, as though a bright light of hope filled our home, our daughter Brittany came to the rescue.

She looked at my problem and then said the blessed phrase, “What if you just . . . “

Sure enough, it worked. She saved the day, and I felt ashamed.

I didn’t care that I couldn’t figure out the problem by myself. I was ashamed that once again I’d taught my daughter to cry in the face of struggles rather than rest in God.

Brilliant, Jean. I keep acting human! Imagine that.

But I can be taught.

So that’s why, when it appeared that 45 people would show up to a construction site for the dinner on Friday in the rain, I was laughing on Thursday.

God had mercifully reminded me through the video meltdown that resting in Him is infinitely more fun and productive than throwing a hissy fit.


To fret or rest. That is the question.

If you’re facing a trial today, you have a choice to make. Fret or rest.

Your trial may not be as inconsequential as feeding 45 people. It may be downright serious.

Regardless of our situations, we all have the same choice. Will we choose to fret or choose to rest in Christ?

How tragic that so many of us followers of Christ either refuse to follow His example of resting in the face of a trial (like I had with the video), or they don’t believe they can.

Many Christians actually think they can’t help but fret even though the Spirit of Christ assures us we can rest. He promises He’ll do it in and through us if we’ll choose to trust Him and choose not to let our hearts be troubled.

Christ is our example. He wasn’t feeding 45 people when He told His disciples not to let their hearts be troubled.

He’d already fed 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two fish without fretting.

Christ wasn’t feeding a crowd in the rain. He was facing His crucifixion.

Just look at what He said to His disciples next:

You heard that I said to you, “I go away, and I will come to you.” If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (John 14:28)

When Jesus tells them they should rejoice that He’s going away, understand that He’s already been telling them that He’s going to be killed at the hands of His enemy.

I’m not talking about Christ being given a lethal injection. He knew He was going to be tortured. But much worse than torture, He knew He was going to become sin and be separated from the Father.

God would turn His face away from Christ as Christ bore the detestable sin of the whole world.

That’s a little heavier than a rehearsal dinner dilemma.

In fact, Christ had just sent His disciple Judas off to betray Him. And now Christ is scolding His disciples for not rejoicing over His impending death.

“Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe. I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here.” (John 14:29-31)


But God, You don’t understand!

“But God, You don’t understand! I can’t have peace in the face of this circumstance!”

You can try to stand your ground and convince God of how right you are, but you won’t succeed.

God knows the truth. He is the truth.

You will, however, succeed in making yourself miserable if you don’t do what He commands. 

He’s actually commanding us to be happy, because when we trust Him, we experience His peace, which leads to happiness.

But Christ didn’t say He’d do exactly as the Father commanded Him so He’d be happy.

He says He’d do it so that the world may know that He loves God.

Happiness shouldn’t be our goal for choosing to rest in Christ in the face of trials.

That the world may know we love God should be our goal.

God’s glory should be our motivation. Choosing to rest peacefully in Christ is the path. Happiness is just a natural by-product of Christ’s peace.

 

Do you love the Father? Do you love Christ?

Then do exactly as He’s commanded you.

Stop fretting. Stop throwing hissy fits.

Trust.

Rest.

Rejoice.

And get up and go.

Leave the unrest in your heart.

Enter into the peace of Christ.

Remember that God’s taking care of everything that concerns you.

He may call you down a hard road, but He’ll lead you every step of the way.

And He won’t lead you down a place you don’t want to go unless it’s necessary.

We can choose not to worry.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
~ John 14:27


Follow the logic. Follow Christ.

I’ve never met a fretter who was happy.

I’ve never met anyone who worried themselves into joy.

But I’ve met perennial fretters and worriers who have frown lines and fewer friends.

We all have our moments, but if we’re characterized by fretting and worrying, we’re headed for misery — if we’re not there already.

I’ve never met anyone who truly rested in Christ who wasn’t happy or filled with joy. They tend to have laugh lines and people who love to be around them.

Follow the logic. Follow Christ. 

After my video debacle and in the face of a potential rehearsal dinner disaster, it was time for me to stop talking about trusting and resting, and do it.

 

Both Christ and Jay were right.

So, how did the rehearsal dinner turn out?

It was brilliant! And Jay was right. The place looked amazing in the dark.

But not because we couldn’t see anything. But because he’d created an artistic and serene ambience with lights strung everywhere, glowing through the darkness.

His wonderful, creative vision had turned into a fabulous reality.

It’s the same with Christ.

Christ’s truth looks amazing in the dark, too.

In the face of uncertainty, I chose to rest in Christ and His promised peace turned into fabulous reality.

Christ’s truth shine brightest in darkness.

Even the army green parachute held up by the steam shovel was magical. Seriously. He’d hung branches and lights down from the center that drew oohs and ahhs from everyone.

The picture below doesn’t do it justice. It was amazing.

Look in the bottom right corner and you'll see Jay working the steam shovel.

Look in the bottom right corner and you’ll see Jay working the excavator.

And we all got a great laugh when Jay decided to raise the parachute up a bit to give more clearance for our heads.

He cranked up the excavator and raised the parachute higher.

He gave a literal meaning to the popular phrase, “raise the roof!”

When he turned the excavator off, it all settled back down. The decorations almost popped Larry’s dad in the head.

Everyone laughed as he quickly cranked it back up again and hoisted the parachute and branches even higher.

That’s a story I bet no one else has ever gotten to tell. And as my sister Kimbi loves to say, when everything runs smoothly it’s boring. There’s no good story to tell, and everyone loves a good story. (She’s so right!)

And then came my video debacle.

Not the one at home while I was making it. The one at the restaurant when I was trying to show it.

We couldn’t get the sound to work.

Oops.

After much clicking of buttons and switching of cords, we realized that the problem was me. I’d somehow saved it without the sound.

Hmmmm.

Fortunately I had the original copy of it that did have sound.

Whew!

With the cheers of 45 people spurring me on, I started the video — just as a train came roaring by.

No one could hear a thing.

More laughter.

I hit pause and waited for it to pass.

It passed, I restarted it, and it went off without a hitch — until everyone noticed that on the last slide I’d typed the date of their wedding: July 25, 2105.

July 25, 2105

Oops! Apparently they’re not getting married for another 90 years.

More laughter.

Oh, and by the way, it never rained! Thank you, God!

 

I choose laugh lines and friends

I could’ve have been embarrassed, but laughing is so much more fun.

I could’ve fretted all week about the dinner, but excited anticipation is more fun.

I could’ve been upset that the restaurant wasn’t exactly as Jay had said it would be when we reserved it in the Spring. But the setting he created was not only more fun and unique, it made for a fabulous story.

Choosing fretting and frustration leads to frown lines and fewer friends. 

In this world we will have troubles. That’s a promise.

But when we choose to rest in Christ, we choose to glorify God. All who glorify God will be blessed.

Choosing the peace of Christ leads to joy and laughter.

I choose laugh lines and friends. I choose peace.

Not peace as the world gives, but the peace that Christ freely gives to all who trust in, rest in, and follow Him.

What will you choose today?

Click to read about the peace that Christ gives (John 14:27) and a pretty funny story too.

(I woke up the morning after Bobby & Kaitlyn’s wedding to this gorgeous, peaceful view of the mountains with the clouds resting among them.)


If this post encouraged you, then I’m thrilled our misadventures could bless you. I hope you’ll pass it along to others. 

And if you’re ever in or near Black Mountain, NC you’ve got to visit The Mill Pizzeria. Outstanding pizza baked by Jay, the fascinating, visionary owner, and his dog Anchovie. (Anchovie doesn’t make the pizza, but he’ll be glad to eat some of yours if you’ll share. Don’t worry, he’s not pushy.) Check them out on Facebook.


 

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Monday Music ~ Remind Me Who I Am (Jason Gray)

Click to view music video: "Remind Me Who I Am" by Jason Gray

“Remind Me Who I Am” by Jason Gray

Selective amnesia.

We all suffer from it.

The problem is we’re too often sad at selecting.

We forget the wrong stuff. 

We remember the stuff we’ve done that have created scars in our own hearts.

But we forget the grace poured out on us by God that turns those ugly scars into beautiful memorials to His kindness and mercy. 

We remember the pain and rejection we’ve received from others.

But we forget the love and acceptance we’ve received from Christ. 

We remember we’re sinners.

But we forget we’re His beloved.

Jason Gray reminds us who we are in his song, “Remind Me Who I Am.”

When we forget who we are, we just need to look to the cross and remember once again. His death on the cross settles it once and for all. We’re His beloved.

How would our life be different today if we believed God? 

Christ in you, the hope of glory.
~ Colossians 1:27


 

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Monday Music — Start A Fire (by Unspoken)

Start a fire in my soul! (Isaiah 49:6 -- I will make you a light for the nations!")

Start a fire in my soul! (Isaiah 49:6 — I will make you a light for the nations!”)


Start a fire in me, God, so that the world will see that it’s You we need.

 

The Unspoken Truth

Discover the unspoken truth that Unspoken expresses in their song “Start a Fire.”  

Start a fire in my soul.
 Fan the flame and make it grow.

I say it’s unspoken because Unspoken never directly states the following truth in the song, but it shines brightly through their lyrics:

God is the one who starts the fire, and He’s the one who makes it grow. 

Too often we get much of Christianity backward — or at least I have. 

I spent years trying to be a light for God. Trying to “be” so much for God.

I couldn’t do it – and I was exhausted trying.

“I am the vine; you are the branches.
If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;
apart from Me you can do nothing.
~ John 15:5

Ah! So I was doomed to failure from the start. I was trying to do something He’d already told us we’d never be able to do.

We don’t light the flame in our soul — God does.

God Starts the Fire

Once lit, a fire shines. That’s just what it does. It can’t not. (That’s a real sentence, right?)

The only way to keep a fire from shining is to blow it out, cover it up, or disconnect it from its source.

Except maybe on the day of Pentecost, fire doesn’t just hover in the air. It requires a source — something to burn.

Once burning, the fire can’t fan itself, but when someone or something else fans it, it grows.

What an encouraging spiritual truth!

“I will make you a light to the nations…” (Isaiah 49:6)

God Will Do It. He Must Do It All.

What He requires of us is that we seek Him with our whole heart and stay connected to Him, our source. In other words, abide in Him.

We find Him in His Word – on every page.

We abide in Him pretty much the same way – by letting Him, as revealed in His Word, live in and pour out of us continually.

“…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
(Matthew 5:16)

As I see it, God’s telling us that He’ll start the fire in our soul, He’ll fan the flame and make it grow, and we just have to let it shine – which it was going to do anyway because that’s just what fire does as long we as don’t disconnect it from the source.

I can do that. That’s not even exhausting. In fact, it’s relaxing!

Imagine all we’ll see in the light from a fire that God has started, and imagine what the world will see in us, when we let His light shine.

If you’re like me, they’ll see a God who works wonders because they’ll see a change that only He could do.

As Unspoken clearly states, we have the hope and the light on the darkest days. Don’t keep it in. Let it shine bright.

The world needs to know that it’s Him that they need. Only Christ can save. He must do it all. We must let it shine.

“Start a fire in my soul!
Fan the flame and make it grow!” 
(Unspoken)

I want to be a part of that! How about you?

_________________

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