Over the next few days, I'll be reposting some of my favorites from the past year. Some highlight the good things - others wade through the darkest moments. All of them really capture exactly how far God's brought Russ & me this year. We are so thankful for His provision - so amazed at how He works. From January 3, 2010:
With all my might I should up to God, His answers thunder from the holy mountain. – Psalm 3:4
I read this verse today and my heart grabbed me by the throat and begged me to pay attention. I read over it – again and again and again – letting the words seep into my soul, allowing my heart the rest it needs.
You know…sometimes we just need his thunder. Not the quiet peace we so often feel. Not the joyful exuberance of celebration. His thunder. The gut-wrenching drop you-to-your-knees thunder of His grace and perfect will. It happened for me last night.
The worship service was different than we had experienced in a long while. Partially because for the better part of the last three years – it has been us leading worship – not sitting in the congregation. It was also different because for the first time in quite awhile – I was hesitant.
Oh I needed Him. I knew it. My heart certainly knew it, too. It was beating so fast as we walked into the gym I could scarcely sit down before taking a few deep breaths to calm my spirit. I closed my eyes against the waging war inside me and squeezed my husband’s hand for reassurance. He looked down and caught my gaze – giving me a half smile.
Yeah. He felt it too.
The minister got up and welcomed us – and the music started to play. People started singing all around me and hands were lifted as high as they could possibly go. I opened my mouth to join them – and no sound came out. Nothing. I glanced around to see if anyone noticed. If anyone even cared. Nope. Everyone around me was lost in singing songs to the One I so desperately wanted to feel. The One I so desperately wanted to push away and cry and scream and ask why? I stood there. Silent. Because, well…I knew. I knew when it happened. When I felt Him – I would break.
Because not only had it been awhile since I’d been in the congregation, but it had been awhile since I had felt His touch.
And oh my heart was ready. It was giddy with anticipation…just knowing I wouldn’t be able to hold out forever. You see, my heart knows me.
Music has always been something that moves me. You send me a mix CD of songs I have never heard and quite possibly you will be my new best friend. My friends use to laugh at me for this obsession. They created this game of, “what songs does Elora not know?” And they would turn on the radio, hit scan, and see if I could figure out who was singing and the name of the song. I usually got 4 out of 5 right. I am always playing music. It’s how I escape. Stick the earphones in, grab the laptop, and let the music flow through me as the words develop on the screen.
I guess you could say music is well…my muse.
But it’s also how I speak to God.
Don’t really know the words to say? Play a Brooke Fraser song and sing along: “though the world is falling out from under me – I’ll be found in You – still standing.” Had a hard day? Let’s listen to Kristene Mueller: “take it all…take it all away – just give me Jesus.” Fighting frustration and hurt? Phil Wickham will do: “I will wait for you here – down on my knees where I met you.”
Every time I sing How Great is Our God I’m transported back to the day of my wedding – walking down the aisle with my new husband – beaming…my heart bursting with the joy of the song played by the praise band in the background. “How great is our God…sing with me! How great is our God!”
Every time I sing Heart of Worship I think of Matt Redman and his church taking a sabbatical – asabbatical – from worship…praying instead. Music would have no part in their church until he knew – they all knew – it wasn’t just for show. I hear this song and the words fall from my lips and I can’t help but pray: King of endless worth – no one could express how much you deserve. Though I’m weak and poor – ALL I have is yours – every single breath.
So last night, in the middle of this worship service, holding a vice grip on my husband’s hand, I felt the tiny crack in my heart grow bigger until I couldn’t take it anymore. Song after song I was firm. I wasn’t going to cry. I wasn’t going to let it affect me. To let it affect me meant I was soft - that it couldn’t just be brushed off as something simple.
And then the song started.
He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy. When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, And I realise just how beautiful You are, And how great Your affections are for me.
I collapsed onto my chair, my head in my hands, and wept. I couldn’t sing. I couldn’t raise my hands. But my heart burst and began to sing - I could feel it “turning violently inside my chest” at the thought of just how much He loves us. Even though we suck at life sometimes – He loves us. Even though we are alone – He loves us. Even though we fight His touch – He loves us.
Oh how He loves us…
I lost the battle with my heart last night. So this morning, when I was reading through Psalms and this verse jumped out at me – I paid attention. Because, if I am to run in full pursuit of His love, I’m going to have to let Him heal me. And that means listening to my heart for what it needs.
Even if it’s the gut-wrenching-drop-me-to-my-knees thunder of His grace.
And these are but the outer fringe of his work; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of His power? Job 26:14