I remember a popular song from my childhood called "Killing Me Softly With His Song." It is the story of a girl who hears about a guy who is a good musician and decides to go hear him play his stuff. She discovers that his lyrics speak what is happening within her heart.
I am thinking about that song. I want that experience. I am so hungry for it. Especially on Sunday's. I want to hear my story reflected back to me, to hear that somehow the gospel touches this lonely place, not just with pat answers and platitudes, but with truth and grace. I don't want to hear someone share Jesus out of a place of success or comfort. I want to hear someone speak about Jesus out of their experience of desperation, when their dreams are dying before their eyes, when prayer seems futile, when consolation runs dry.
I am searching for an authentic witness to the truth. But it takes so much courage to pull the veil away and expose the rawness of hurt, anger, disappointment. I have rarely gone to church and heard someone speak of finding God in those places, exposing the difficult places of their heart experience as a fountainhead of hope. The gospel just sounds so much better when we pretend that life is great. If life is great it is easier to believe that God is great. But I am struggling right now. How do I find God in the midst of that struggle? Especially when all the ways I have know God's presence in the past just come up empty?
Some parts of my life are deeply satisfying. Those places are balms to my spirit. I am so thankful for them. Then there are other parts that hurt so much. I want to know, and need to know, that the loss I feel is still blessed. That hope lives in there. That I can expect God to show up, maybe not in a way that I currently recognize, but in a way that lets me know I'm not God-forsaken.
The thing is, without a real expression of someone's struggle, it's hard to believe their assurances. The grace offered seems cheap and flimsy, unsubstantial. I need to know there is more. I need to know grace is deeper, stronger, fuller. And I need someone to show me where that kind of grace is. Because right now I can't see it.
What I can say about Sunday mornings is that I love the music. It washes over me. It challenges me, because I can't just sing words I don't believe. Sometimes I sing with tears streaming down my face. But I still sing. My favorite song this morning at church was "How He Loves Us" by John Mark McMillan. The lyrics speak of the radical and deep love of God, so powerful we would be swept away in it if we could only see it for what it is. I so need to know God loves me that much right now. It's hard to feel it, but I tend to believe the words of the song more than the sermon. McMillan wrote it after his friend Steven was killed. He found a way to believe in God's love in the midst of his anguish. Maybe there is hope for me too.
I don't understand this season I'm in. It is a delirious mix of gratitude and angst. I catapult between the two extremes so often it leaves my head, and especially my heart, spinning. But I have to believe this is not the end of my story. I have to believe that I will look back on this time and be able to find His hand at work, resolving what is broken in my heart, healing what I cannot mend. I have to believe that grace is real, even when I can't see it. I have to believe that grace is truth, even when it feels false.