Words to Worship, to Answer, to Undo.

10/29
((from Bridget))

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord

We were in the basement of our sending church.  We were set to move overseas in just under 2 months.  There was a healthy quorum in attendance as they were called and ready to pray over my husband and I that evening.

First song of the worship set was “We Exalt Thee”,  not a common hymn we heard at our church as we usually stuck with Hillsong or Bethel’s latest hits. But I was overjoyed! (I even knew how to sing this song in Patois after a summer mission trip to Haiti.)

Next, “How Great is Our God” by Chris Tomlin.  Hmmm… now things were getting a little suspicious as this song was played at our wedding.  I was in tears at this point, as this song always puts me right in my place.

Name above all names
Worthy of our praise
My heart will sing
How great is our God

You may think that those first two songs were mere coincidence, that somehow our home church had intentionally placed these meaningful songs in our benediction prayer gathering.  The worship leader, however, was newer to our congregation so there was no way he could’ve known my life story.  Better than that, our church was better known for our organized chaos and never set forth pomp and circumstance; so you see, it just simply wasn’t possible that this could have been planned by man.

Third song of the four song set, “Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord” by Micheal W. Smith.  I am 100% serious with what I’m about to tell you: I knew how to sing this song in Spanish because of a missions trip to Honduras years earlier; both of these trips, the one to Haiti and this one to Honduras, were before my marriage to Steve.  There was no reason to play these songs at our family’s sendoff. They were too personal, too random – God had my attention.

At this point I took out a paper that was folded in my Bible and wrote the playlist down, I could see God’s fingerprints all over this and I wanted to build my altar. I wanted to remember.

It was then that God played the last song, “Holy Spirit” by Jesus Culture.  This was a newer song and I wasn’t familiar with the lyrics so I just sat and listened.

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord

Our worship leader led us to the LORD’s altar with his raspy voice, fashionable beard, flannel shirt and bare feet.  I was weeping, warm all over, and I was undone.  I had truly tasted and seen the glory of His goodness and there was nowhere else I wanted to be.

The song ended, it was time to move into corporate prayer, and so I folded that piece of paper and put it back in my Bible.  The worship set, the moment, the evening could’ve ended there—but remember this was a God story.

Fast forward now to April of 2014 at 0400 in the morning.  I couldn’t sleep any longer so I decided to go meet the LORD on our living room couch, with my head lamp, Bible, and journal.  The questions in my mind were swirling and I was overcome with concern.

I had never had any specific conversations with my parents about life after death. I had honestly just assumed my parents would go to heaven.  They went to church, they were good people, so surely they had things “set right” before the LORD to keep their heaven bound one-way ticket after death, right?

Well, it was this nagging question that woke me from a sound sleep this particular Friday morning.  I had found out on Facebook just two mornings earlier that my father had died suddenly.  It was horrible (I mean Facebook disclosure, really?), but I did live in rural Africa so there were reasons for the miscommunication.

I was exhausted the first evening after receiving the news, processing, praying, and then having to share the news with my children.  You see, Grandpa was supposed to come visit us on Saturday, just 3 days after his sudden death.  I had to explain that grandpa wasn’t going to be on the airplane any longer.

The second evening I didn’t sleep well either – my mind was racing with all the details.  I had to get things packed, house closed up, and clinic notified of my unexpected trip to the USA for his memorial services.  I actually appreciated all the details as they distracted me from the pain, sadness, and shock.

So here I was, the third evening after the news of my father’s death, and I couldn’t sleep.  My faithful Ironman Timex read 0403 and I decided to go present my questions to the LORD. I grabbed my Bible and journal and let my headlamp faithfully lead me to our wicker couch.

“Is my father in heaven with you Lord?”

“Lord, is he in heaven or is he burning in hell?”

It’s an awful conundrum but I was honestly asking.  I was overwhelmed with fear and concern and regret- why hadn’t I secured the answer to this question in my mind before my father’s death?!?  How would I ever really know the answer now?  I was terrified.  I was disgusted.  I was undone.

I had my ear buds playing along as I continued to journal and wrestle with the LORD.  As I reached for more Kleenex, a paper fell out of my Bible.  It was a folded piece of paper that I hadn’t seen in years.  On one side, there was a vision someone had received in church and he obediently sketched it on this piece of paper for our keeping.  My husband and I weren’t sure of the meaning of the vision at that time so I tucked the paper in my Bible for safe keeping…

On the other side of this paper was a list of worship songs.  It was titled “Nehemiah Night, Chris Wilson lead, 2012” and I’d written the names of four worship songs in the order in which they played:

We Exalt Thee

How Great is Our God

Open the Eyes of My Heart

Holy Spirit

I had the new Kari Jobe “Majestic” album so I closed my eyes and cued up “Holy Spirit.”  The house was quiet, the air was still, and all I heard was the Cody Carnes dramatic opening,

There’s nothing worth more
That could ever come close
No thing can compare
You’re our living hope
Your presence, Lord

I’ve tasted and seen
Of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free
And my shame is undone
Your presence, Lord

Kari Jobe then takes the reigns as she builds the room’s intensity and bellows out,

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord
Your presence, Lord

IN THIS MOMENT I KNEW.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

I had not heard the voice of the LORD.  I did not see angels or a bright light or any writings on the wall.  But with a peace that transcended my understanding, I knew my dad was in heaven.

I was truly OVERCOME by His presence.

The Holy Spirit had come.

He had filled my atmosphere.

He was welcomed and… He had left me undone once again.

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