Now I remember . . . I remember what I miss most about our years in Vienna.
Color . . . hearts painted in every shade of red, yellow, black and browns. I hugged color, laughed with color, prayed with color. And I was repaid with a richness of depth and perception that fills me, even today, with incredible joy.
While Achromatopsia, the state of total color blindness, affects thousands, a higher percentage of the population suffers milder forms of this deficiency. One in twelve males is color blind! According to one source, three hundred million people world-wide are unable to ‘see’ true colors.
I wonder that many of us may suffer from a Biblical form of colorblindness; we fail to see people as they were created in God’s image. In their uniqueness . . . in their color.
Tom and I recently returned to the states after being ‘home’ in Vienna ten days this past December.
Prior to the ten years we served with the International Mission Board in Europe, I had been perfectly content in my pious, traditional religious world. I was colorblind. Our hushed hide-away allowed me to focus on the neighbor’s cows in the fields below with their spots and colors. Thousands of fire-flies in search of mates lit the woods around us on June moon-less nights, and I selfishly thanked God for His “light” to the world.
I served others, yes, in our ministry, but how smug I had been—living in my isolated retreat, feeding the birds and chatting with the rabbits and chipmunks— at the same time wondering why the rest of the world was not as contented as I. “Don’t worry, be happy,” I smiled when I met others on the journey.
That was BEFORE the Lord invaded my peace one morning in 1998, and commanded me—in a soft whisper, “Barb, begin NOW to pray my heart for the world.”
Worshipping at the International Church in Vienna this past December 8, 2019, I was reminded of the first words the Lord whispered to me in this very same sanctuary the winter of 2000. “This is how heaven will be.” Joyful tears filled my eyes this day in December as they had almost twenty years ago.
I saw every face, created in the image of our Creator, colored in a perfectly tinted expression of His design. One of the first experiences I remember in 2000 is the circle of hands in every color and country, joined in worship and praise around the room as multiple dialects sang together:
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah to the Lamb, Hallelujah, hallelujah by the blood of Christ we stand. Every tongue, every tribe, every people, every land Giving glory, giving honor, giving praise unto the Lamb of God . . .
After a couple of years, the words of another song, “Love in any language, straight from the heart, binds us all together, never apart,” rang out clearly from the growing rainbow circle of hands.
Living in Vienna was stressful, yes. But on Sundays, something happened. In those hours, I forgot the cacophony of babble heard on the trains and trams; I forgot the smells, blended in sour fragrance in the markets; I shut my eyes to the graffiti drawn on subway tunnels by would-be revolutionists; I forgot how much I missed my grandchildren.
I was home. I opened the gate into the church garden, and I was home.
We were all ‘at home’. Each unique, different color of the rainbow present that Sunday seemed to be wrapped in the Father’s embrace, hearing a whisper, “I who created you, who formed you and redeemed you. I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1 Each one. Whatever your culture, your country, with your beautiful color. . . you are mine. I will be with you . . . this week. (my added emphasis)
Sunday morning, December 15, 2019, we attended another international church where we had ministered with the pastors through various events while in Vienna. I looked around and felt the same embrace of the Father. It’s this love, this indescribable, unifying love, that brings us together. For a minute, I thought I had transferred to heaven!On the streets of Vienna, dark turbans cover heads; black burkas conceal feminine bodies, colorful scarves protect against the cold winds of the city, all the while hiding multiple scars and pain. Constant reminders of different cultures surviving in a hostile world. But a group of colorful, unified believers willing to love and be loved by a Holy Father staggers the imagination that this is possible. Differences in identity, culture, and history serve to magnify the truth of the Gospel.
And that happens anywhere, anytime, in the world when people come together with a love for the world, with a God-heart for the world.
For God so loved the world . . . John 3:16
I know why I was home. We were together with a Father who loved all of us the same . . . every culture, every color, every heart. . .
“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9
. . . living color conscious in my world . . . NOW. . .
This was a small dinner with ten people from the UN Bible study (two came after picture). Ten people, ten different countries. Shows the colors heaven will be!! Tom and I are the only Americans.
I wish I could post a picture of all my favorite colors of the world, my favorite people in the whole world— taken in December 🙂
. . . seeing color . . .
. . . love these hearts. . .