I asked God to give me something to share with a beautiful, familiar group of women. I would soon have the opportunity to speak to them and I wanted to leave something inspirational, something worthy of remembering, in their hearts. I’m not a speaker. My mind seems to forget everything I want to say when I want to say it. So, every time this type of thing comes along, I plead with God. Less of me, more of You.
He quickly dropped “I Will Enter His Gates” in my heart. I sang it for a week and nothing I conjured up came together in the beautiful way I had imagined. Maybe he wants me to talk about this or that…. No, that’s not it, again and again. I crumbled up papers and deleted notes on my phone.
I woke up at 5am Sunday morning, the day of the event, with a reason. The song I had been singing was a song I loved when I was a child, a song from our hymn book. It was a memory I needed to unwrap.
This is a small part of my story. But, you all have a story like this, a story of how god has always been calling out to you.
When I was born, my parents weren’t christians. We were lost. What was it that brought us to him? I was five and I remember. I remember the tiny churches in the country. I remember the open arms and the looks on their faces. They knew my mom was coming home. But, my father, they were working so hard. They visited him in the hospital when he almost died. They spent hours and hours there. The preacher prayed over him when he was asleep for a month. He prayed when my dad didn’t know us. He even stayed when he woke up and lead him to Jesus. I was five and I knew my dad had died but God woke him up because he was so close. He was close to finally winning his soul. Maybe the accident would show him how far God had gone to save him?
(Picture of dad and the preacher about 1.5 years after his accident when he was walking again)
Dad recovered at home and we went to church. They sang “At the Cross”and “Victory in Jesus.” They worked tirelessly. They cried when my momma cried. They threw baby showers when my sister was born. There were so many embraces. They sang “Jesus Loves Me” and lead the crafts in Sunday school. They cared when we didn’t come.
(My mom at my sister’s baby shower at the small church in the country)
Family reunions when I was 8 and 10 and 12, my uncle sang “Amazing Grace” with a guitar under the trees. They all stopped. All those people, 100 of them, stopped and felt him. The music, the prayer, it begged us to notice. He was there, calling to them too. I remember looking around and seeing that they all noticed Jesus was there too.
Then, when I was 15, I gave my heart to Jesus. Those people actually had the guts to come and get me from my seat. They knew so much about me. More than I had told them. Their eyes said it all. But, I had been hiding. Hang out with us. We’ve got this thing called The Holy Spirit and you need it too. That’s when I decided. All those years, all that work and I finally said it out loud. Although, I had known long, long before that I could never live without Jesus. He would always be home, my resting place.
When my mom almost gave up on people and stopped going to church, it was me that begged. If we don’t have them, what hope do we have? Those people, the church, they are Jesus. We can’t hold on to him alone. She listened.
It was always him calling me, following me, loving me. He worked hard to keep my attention. From my earliest memory until right now, it has always been him.
We are the church. We are those baby showers, the embraces, the workers. We are the ones that sing songs and cut and glue in the classrooms. We are Jesus in the flesh.
(Me around 1988 singing songs about Jesus)
When I asked God for something this week, he took his time and showed me something profound. The pulling, the tugging, the noticing, the calling, it was always him. From my earliest memory until this very moment. The entire thing, its been a journey towards him. Just like it has been for you.
As we enter into the holidays thankful hearts, may it be full of those moments in time that cause you to notice. He’s been calling to all of us since the very beginning. Through music, prayer, love, embraces, pain and everything in between, it’s been him all along. He is the hope that shines in dark places. He is the joy that comes in the morning. He is everywhere, in everything. He has always been, and he will always be.
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.