A Song of Grace
I usually don't plan ahead what my blog posts will be about. Sometimes I have a vague idea of what the next few might be, but, as they say, that is always "subject to change." When one has a commitment to write everyday, it's always a nice feeling to have three or four possible posts floating around in one's brain, awaiting development.
There are great moments, though, when a post just appears -- lands in my lap -- and demands that I write about it. Today's post is one of those.
I taught a class -- good grief, I just did the math -- FIFTEEN years ago in our church. It was a series of classes called the Bethel Bible Study. It met over a period of two years for six sessions, each of seven weeks = 42 classes. Jeff and I were talking about it yesterday, just a passing mention, and he asked who had been in the class.
Not a very fair question to ask me -- I can barely remember our neighbors' names. I have some kind of "name block." Predictably, I couldn't list the names of the students. It frustrated me, because I met with them, as their teacher, 42 times. You would think I could remember their names! When I got home, I pulled the notebook off the bookshelf in which I had filed my lesson notes, knowing it had a list of students in it. That problem solved, I flipped through the notebook.
I haven't had this notebook down off the bookshelf in YEARS. It's been so long since I opened it that the ink on the paper was making the pages stick together. Stuck between the pages of the notebook was a church bulletin from February 7, 1993. I have no idea why it was there, or why I would have saved it. I normally just leave the bulletin in the pew each Sunday, but something about this one made me carry it home, and actually stick it in this notebook.
I thought it might be the bulletin from the Sunday when my students "graduated," but if it is, I don't see that listed in the order of worship. It is a bulletin from when Bishop Grove visited our church (could he be the last Bishop who did?). The anthem text is what stopped me. It was written in what is probably size 6 font -- tiny little words. Here's the text:
O God of Challenge and of ChangeThey are words that in so many ways are exactly what I needed to hear.
Carolyn S. McDowell
O God of challenge and of change,
we walk a path made up of dreams.
We search the heavens, we search the depths,
A universe of vast extremes.
Midst all of this, our lives seem so small,
yet you have promised us, O Lord
Not height, nor depth, nor anything at all
can separate us from your Word.
That Word is love, that Word is peace,
that Word goes with us everywhere,
in every choice, in every change,
we are forever in your care.
I argued with myself this morning on the way to work, trying to convince myself that I'm making too much of this. They are universal words that would come as comfort at any time in almost anyone's life. (It's a good song, isn't it?)
Edited to add: I finished the book from Linda today -- Fingerprints of God by Jennifer Rothschild (read about the gift here). She writes at the end:
God told me on my Emmaus walk a simple message -- "Trust more; Love more." I walked away from that walk convinced that that was his message for me. I'm still convinced, so I'm going to quit arguing with myself and trust more.
...For those few moments, as I held her gift, I was not longer overwhelmed by my messy office. Instead, I became overwhelmed by the sweetness of God, sent to me in a crumpled gift bag by a woman who had little time and money yet spent both on me.
"Your name is like honey on my lips." The lyrics of the CD filled my office and -- more importantly -- my heart. His name is sweet, His touch is kind and personal, and His timing is always perfect. I know the Sno-Caps came from an anonymous woman in Orlando, but as far as I'm concerned, they came from the hand of God. With the eyes of faith, I could see His invisible fingerprints all over them.
Oftentimes we pray and plead for God's encouragement, wisdom and blessing. But then when He answers, when His touch truly comes upon our lives, we don't recognize it because it didn't arrive in the expected package. It didn't come to us in the way we anticipated or imagined.
I don't need to know how, or why, or when, but I'm convinced that God made sure I stuck that bulletin in that notebook years ago, that He left it there for me, and that He led me to it yesterday, because He knew it was what I needed to hear. I'm going to trust, that as I hold this gift of a song in my hands, that God put it there.
Maybe you need to hear it, too; hence this post. He sings to us His song of grace in the space between the drumbeats. Thank God He does.
Image: Morning sky at VA today.