Before church I read an article about Joni Erickson Tada and how after 43 years of being paralyzed she’s living with “chronic, ‘jaw splitting’ pain.” Her words. Just as she began to “enjoy more good days than bad,” she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her thoughts on that turn of events? “I do not want to be one of those who shrink back. I don’t want to tarnish [God’s] name.” (World Magazine, October 23, 2010, p. 65)
Two hours later, I was sitting at Louie’s Café and happened to be talking with a local funeral director about his week. He’d been busy and one family, getting ready to bury someone young, was hanging around in his thoughts. He said this, “It’s hard to make arrangements when everyone in the family has their head in their hands. It’s a long afternoon of working through what they’re gonna do.”
A few minutes later, I managed to figure out where Chris and son #1 had saved me a seat. For some reason, we didn’t get our usual row and chairs choice—how rude, eh?—and I found myself sitting behind people I normally don’t sit behind. An older couple, the man recently diagnosed with cancer. He’s facing surgery this week. I should have known I was in for it.
We began to sing.
Our God is Healer, Awesome in Power, Our God! Our God!
….And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us.
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against.
I stood there taking in the worship team, the words and this couple in front of me and realized that this was a moment to make agreement about what I believe. Is my God a healer? Is He awesome in power? Is He my God? Sure, He is right now when I’m in this environment where my whole focus is worship but what about in every moment—the mundane, the stricken, the rude or disappointing?
You think you have that answered and then ‘those’ days happen—and I’m not just talking medical diagnosis kind of days. I’m talking the cupboards are empty and you have that 2-hour shopping trip ahead of you days. Or the days the kids aren’t quite staying with the program and they’re either too silly or too disobedient or maybe it’s both.
Thing is, the next two songs continued to beg the question. Is God great? When I think of God His son not sparing, can I scarcely take in His death no matter the moment I’m in, no matter the deep pain or confusion or minor frustrations that I am surrounded with?
And what about this: can I gladly and fully sing, “Soon and very soon, we are going to meet the king, Alleluia, alleluia, we’re going to meet the king” and not hold on just a little bit to the plans I’m excited about? There are still good books to read. That orphanage fundraiser is coming up. We’re going to Spain! (I wish…) Can I plan my life and still be okay with the Soon of not on earth hanging around, too?
The couple in front of me? They threw their arms around each other, that soon and very soon, feeling very, very soon. A man confronted with the weakness of his body. His wife confronted with her inability to do anything but wait and think about maybe being alone. Still they stood, arms around each other in a liberal embrace and they sang that soon they would be with the king and yes, praise God that He Is the I Am. They are ready, their embrace a testimony to their marriage, to each other and to God.
Forty minutes later, I’m listening to Louie wrap up his message on Revelation. With the combination of those songs we sang, the testimony of the couple in front of me and the reminder in the teaching that God is guiding history to a final goal already revealed—Jesus Christ, the King, in all his Glory, I was so excited, so satisfied to trust in this outcome, to look for it and live it, that it was all I could do to keep in the seat. Then Louie took the air out of the room with this, “All theology ends in doxology”.
I had to write that down in very large letters.
Thing is, I know this is true too. The more I trust God and obey, the more I’m willing to walk with Him in and through all things, the greater my joy in life. Life becomes an opportunity—to let go and become new and not because of personal will but because of design and purpose.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow can only happen when you know that God is greater than what you’re up against. Praise Him all creatures here below sings different when we search the depths of Christ’s death and don’t find a bottom. Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts will get larger when we face the soon and very soon and lift our chins and let the plans fall to the ground.
So I’ve made a deeper agreement. My God can heal. He is greater and I don’t have to fear what stands against me. He is the great I Am and has finished it all even now. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.