By Cynthia Louise Lewis
There’s nothing more nerve wracking than being submissive to a man who hears God. That’s just the simple truth of it. Forget the security of friends, home, and any sort of root system. When God tells a man it’s time to move into His promises, those camels get packed and off you go! And, quite frankly, you don’t always care that he’s right, that the end circumstances will be better than the present, or worse yet, that it’s “good for you.” When you walk through a dessert, you get blisters. Camels stink. And watering holes are few and far between – even for the prophetic.
In the spring of 2004, events conspired to close down St. Peter’s Charismatic Episcopal Church (ICCEC) in
. Other issues were, of course, going on in the ICCEC of which my prophetic husband was aware, but quite frankly, I didn’t care. I was still devastated. After all, according to our Priest, Fr. Denny, St. Peter’s was born on my front porch. He and my husband and others who were seeking out the truth of the Historic Faith, would spend hours there searching the scriptures, eating my simple tuna sandwiches, and smoking their cigars. Long after sensible folk had gone to bed, one could hear the laughter of genuine brotherhood break out into the night. Little Rock, Arkansas
I was beginning to see my own gifts, spiritual and otherwise, finally being used in ways I’d always dreamed. I was asked to take a principle role in planning Diocesan Women’s Retreat of 2004. I’d written a catechism for children, had received a glowing review from our Bishop, and was eager to see it put to use. But even I could tell there were serious cracks in the foundation of our little denomination.
During the course of a lot of prayer and study, My husband, Nathan, and I found ourselves faced with a very simple choice: go forward or go backward. Although we looked into the Roman Church, it became obvious to us that Orthodoxy was where we needed to go. And go we did.
Talk about adjustment. As we entered the Orthodox faith, we also embarked on a move to a new state. I got just an inkling of what Sarah must have felt. It was an all encompassing time of letting go. Good-bye to friends. Good-bye to family (my aging parents, my married daughter & her family which included 2 precious grandbabies, my unmarried daughter). Good-bye to the job that had been such a blessed oasis for me for 12 years. And, good-bye to worshipping my Lord the way I was used to.
Surprisingly enough, the doctrinal issues were more of a confirmation and comfort than a challenge. But nothing could have been so foreign to me than the shapes and forms of Orthodoxy. Although I’ve been a singer as far back as I can remember, nothing had prepared my ears for the unique tonalities of the Antiochian music. My parents had built in me an appreciation of fine art, so the icons looked childish and crude – and yellow! (My least favorite color) Even my prayers had to be exchanged for new ones as I switched from the Anglican book of prayers to more “Lord have mercy’s” than my lips could wrap themselves around. And, probably the most challenging of all, the pattern of Orthodox fasting – a pattern that rests VERY heavily on the shoulders of the woman of the house who has to prepare those meals – was practically my undoing!
I remember about 2 weeks into our first Orthodox Lent, bursting into tears as I told my husband, “I’m so consumed with when to bow, and when to kneel, and all the other new rules, that I haven’t spoken to Jesus in weeks!” And then something happened. We were in the service at which every church member asks the forgiveness of every other church member. As each person – adult, child, teen – came up to me and said, “I forgive you. Will you forgive me?” something shifted. The Church was no longer something I had to please and perform for. The Church was putting its arms around me and welcoming me home. I joined the choir shortly thereafter. Our choir master is very patient with me and little by little I’m learning the music, and yes, it is quite beautiful once you realize it isn’t supposed to sound like the Backstreet Boys. I’ve been able to help with the clean-up of a couple fellowships. Not the same as planning a retreat, but a lot of fun none the less. And the icons! I can’t explain it, other than to say, they aren’t art -- they are something much more.
I don’t know when or even if Sarah ever reached the point where she felt fully at home. I think it’s likely that she did; probably the first time she looked into her son’s eyes. After all, God’s promise to her husband was a promise to her, too.