When I look at my life and I can't remember who God is, can't remember that He can fill the busted-in holes in my heart or heal the severed limb I left a few blocks behind me on the road of life—when I can't remember that he is not only capable of fixing and healing the scary dark hallways of my soul, but actually wants to, desires to save me daily...all I need to do is go to Antioch, my church (IAmAntioch.com).
I don't mean this in the traditional sense. Not in the: wear a nice hat, smile a "blessed day, sister" or "great message, pastor," kind of way (although there was a great message this week!). But in the ~looking, the seeing and knowing the lives around me, the lives that have become more than family to me.
It's in seeing darling Colette who has spent 12 of the last 24 days in the hospital, including her 7th birthday, at a level 8 pain...seeing her, Sunday morning in bedazzled silver shoes and pink-spring-dress dancing around the sanctuary like a prima ballerina; eyes closed, face upward to Jesus, hopping to "I exalt thee, I exalt thee, O Lord" and meaning every movement. It's this seeing that reminds me who my God is, the great redeemer-healer, yes! But also the one who holds hands at hospital bedsides, and allows mothers asleep on hospital chairs to wake up to smiling girls with the most precious words in that moment on their lips, “Mommy, I’m hungry”…and the healing-progress begins there in Him. I see Him in that mommy on her face worshipping thanks on Sunday morning. And I begin pray “Daddy, I’m hungry…for more of your love.”
It’s in opening my eyes to my friends, Ben and Tiff, who’ve been trying to buy a house for months with failed offer after failed offer—who want to fill it with adopted children—finding out that their dream home has dropped a miraculous $50,000 into their price range. That their landlord is, without need of any payback, gifting them thousands of dollars for their down payment that they couldn’t quite afford. Here, I see God as the joyful gift giver who loves to see dreams come true, who works in ways we didn’t see coming, who disguises his angels as investors and doctors and birds and Walgreens checkers.
I see Him in all the faces around me, some as close as relatives to me, others mere acquaintances—knowing about their lost jobs, newly discovered cancer cells, new babies, dreams coming true—and all equally with faces upturned and so much joy singing “there is power in the name of Jesus, there is power in the name of Jesus.”
All that...all that movement…gives me the strength to return home—to life—the power to remember that the fire that burned so close to my home the night before with its ashes like bullets aimed at my roof, threatening their destruction, is something I can say thank you for. Thank you for the way it threaded my neighbors together in instant community, kind and soft-spoken watching the flames, opening relationship doors where there hadn’t been before—and for Him that put out the fire before it touched anyone or any home.
“ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So, God, whatever is left of me in this tired sop of a body, whatever sin and thought and apathy is clogging the wells of life you have placed in me—take it. Sweep it away—ashes for beauty. Fill me anew with your pure-water life. I want a whiff of the joy and peace and resolute purpose that only surface in your arms. The wide-eyed “wow” that slips past my tongue before I’m even aware of it when water breaks out of the gray muddled sky, a late spring rain. Enliven me—animate me.
I won’t run away from sin anymore. Instead, I’ll just run straight into your arms, straight into forgetting all those old ways of drain and empty and I’ll re-member fullness and hope and joy and wonder and awe. And I beg to be led to this decision and choose rightly, everyday. Amen.