“But greater still the calm assurance, that child can face uncertain days because He lives…”
A couple of weeks ago, I was leading worship through song during a typical Sunday morning service at my church, Church on the Way. Nothing really out of the ordinary happened that morning, but I do remember feeling a little less sure of myself during all of rehearsal and through most of the beginning of the service. I have mornings like that- where I just don’t have the confidence, and there’s usually no reason I can nail down other than regular human insecurity. I’ve grown to appreciate these mornings, because those are the days I’m reminded of where my source of gifting, confidence and overall hope comes from. And because that source is God, I’m humbly assured that it is more than ok if I get up there just as I am and sing, even if I can’t bring myself to feel great by the time that 5 minute timer goes off. It’s ultimately not about about how I feel, even though feelings are certainly allowed to be involved. I don’t have to try to set them aside to be someone else for twenty minutes though, and I don’t have to over indulge in my feelings and project that onto everyone else; I’ve been guilty of both. But I can find rest, somewhere in the middle of those two extremes, that God is worthy of the worship that flows His way out of the truths I sing, no matter how good or bad they come out, and that we are to sing those truths as the body of Christ.
The last song in the set for that morning was “Because He Lives.” You know the one… “because he lives, I can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone…” I don’t ever remember singing the full song growing up, but the chorus from it was often used at the end of the sermon, the benediction if you will, as we were all instructed to hold hands across the aisle and sing together. It was set to the tempo and time of an irish drinking song, and as children we’d sway our arms back and forth, as if holding an invisible pint of beer.
I re-discovered the song sometime at the beginning of last year, and found the verses to be very useful and captivating, and brought it into our pool of songs for church. I’ve cried a few times singing it, because I’ve always had other people in my mind during the second and third verses, depending on the season and who was suffering.
But, on this particular Sunday a few weeks ago, as we sang the line “But greater still, the calm assurance, that child can face uncertain days because He lives…” I was all of a sudden struck with the reality that this line not only described other people, but it described me. In the few seconds it took to sing that line, the reality of my childhood that I’ve been coming to terms with over the past three years flooded my mind, and I was overcome with not just clarity, but overwhelming gratefulness.
You guys, I’ve buried a lot of my childhood in the sand. As some of you have read my words over the past years, you know that I’ve slowly been sifting through that sand and digging up my childhood and the memories/pain that come with it. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been sitting somewhere, whether at home or anywhere else, and a memory I hadn’t thought of in over two decades or a memory I didn’t know I had, comes rushing into my vision. I’ve had desperate moments where I’ve angrily looked up at the ceiling, wondering when God was going to stop the conveyor belt of memories from tumbling into my life. I’ve struggled with feeling that he’s cruel, that he’s put too much on me to work through. I’ve often asked the question, “What is the purpose of all of this?” The easy and half-truth answer is that He’s had me remember and work through things so that I can relate to and help others do the same. And while I believe that’s true, that’s also a cheap answer to me. Is that all?
Singing that line, with all of that reality coming back to me at the same time, I felt God saying “This is why I’ve let you suffer through your memories. All of that stuff you went through- I got you through that because I was and am and will forever be alive. I’m convincing you that I love you, and I’m not going to let you forget it.”
The beautifully devastating weight of that, all in just a few seconds, left me no where to go but to release it through sobs. And I did. I sobbed on that stage in front of everyone, and I couldn’t stop. The best thing happened though- my brothers and sisters kept singing. They sang the whole third verse and into the chorus and we ended together. I cried and they sang, and they led me. A few times I tried to sing again, but I was met with more tears.
I share that, not to point at this sweet moment I had with my church, and leave it at mere sentiment. I share that because as the body took over and continued to sing, I was deeply reminded that I am completely unnecessary. And as I felt that creep in while I sobbed giant, ridiculous tears of gratefulness, I was met with relief.
I am nothing, and He is everything. I deserve death, yet he boisterously showers me with life. It’s never how I expect it, yet it’s always better than what I thought it would be. This child certainly faced many an uncertain day, but He was there inside every moment of it and He’s gotten me here to this moment.
Life is worth the living, just because He lives.