I am truly very grateful for your encouragement. I felt loved and prayed for this weekend by friends inside and outside of my computer. I made it through church Sunday morning without needing to be admitted to the psych floor for observation, so I think that could be considered a success.
I’m not sure if I would file this under “God Has a Sense of Humor, Sometimes I Don’t” or just “Are You Kidding Me?” but I forgot until we were walking into church that my pastor would be preaching the second sermon in his series, “Are You Happy Now?” I remembered this only when I heard Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” playing on a continuous loop through loud speakers all over the parking lot. I normally like that song, but to be honest, when I heard it this past Sunday morning, I really just wanted to hit Bobby McFerrin in the throat a little…but just for a second. And it probably would have been more of a figurative hit in the throat than a literal one. Also when we walked in we were greeted by huge yellow smiley face props everywhere. The ones in the front of the church and on stage were at least the size of small planets. That was…fun.
A few people, several of whom I didn’t even know, asked how my dad was and I sat on my inner sarcastic child who wanted to reply, “Seriously?” or “Great! He’s training for a half-marathon this fall!” and just said, “He’s okay.” I think that since “okay” can be defined on a sliding scale, I wasn’t being completely dishonest.
It was actually toughest for me to keep it together when I ran into people who love me the most and especially the people who love me most and who I know have been through hurts that I cannot even and don’t want to imagine. I saw a friend right outside the doors of the worship center. Our dads worked together on a church staff when we were young. Eight years ago, her almost three-year-old son walked behind her husband’s car as he was backing out of the driveway and was killed. Kasey has traveled down dark and scary roads. She hugged me and both of our eyes filled with tears. She speaks “broken heart” fluently. I’m not nearly as proficient in the language.
Something special happened during the praise and worship. Let me give you some background information first. Way before my dad was diagnosed with cancer and other things “happened” in my life, I was having trouble with the concept of loving God for Who He is and not just for what He does for me. I even blogged about it a little in a post that is still very eerie for me to read now. I’ve heard speakers encourage listeners to thank God for His attributes in our prayers. Thank him for His holiness, His sovereignty, etc. I’ve tried to do this, but God has blessed me so much that I found it impossible to stay on track. I’d start out thinking about God’s mercy and end up concentrating on how merciful He’s been to me. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, I’ve just felt that the reason the John Piper quote (the one I mentioned in the eerie post) completely destroyed me was because I have a very hard time separating Who God is from the way He’s blessed me.
During the worship time on Sunday we sang “Agnus Dei.” You’ve probably heard it. It has been recorded by several artists, including Michael W. Smith and Third Day. I’ll post a video below in case you’re not familiar with the song. When we started singing “Holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty / Worthy is the Lamb / Worthy is the Lamb / You are holy,” a lighbulb went on inside my heart. Regardless of what I don’t understand about the happenings of my family right now, God is holy. Please understand, despite the heartache about my dad’s sickness that I’ve shared here and the other deep hurts we’re experiencing that I can’t share here, I am still unbelievably blessed. But on a day that I didn’t feel particularly “happy,” on a morning that my heart felt so heavy that I could barely physically stand, I was able to lift my head and hands in praise to a God Who is completely holy and worthy. Maybe for the first time ever, I sang “Alleluia” from my heart instead of my head. It was a sweet moment.
I wasn’t sure I would even blog about it because I’m not sure my words can adequately relay to you what happened, but I wanted you to know that I survived Sunday. I decided to tell you about my “Agnus Dei” experience when I read AnnieBlogs’s post yesterday. You know Annie from Annie Blogs, right? I’m not sure how I found the AnnieBlogs blog but I’ve been reading it for a few months. I just can’t help but love Annie. She’s a young Georgia girl who moved to Nashville. She’s a writer and I love hearing about what God is doing in her life….and about her adventures in the kitchen. I don’t actually know Annie but she has become precious to me through her blog. Annie’s grandmother recently died and yesterday she wrote about how “Agnus Dei” ministered to her heart at her church on Sunday…her church in Nashville which is hundereds of miles away from my church. When I read her post, I didn’t have a Twilight Zone experience or anything, but I just thought it was special that the same song was blessing both our hearts on Sunday. Thanks, Michael W. Smith.
Today we have an appointment with my dad’s neurosurgeon. I’ll try to update you on the latest news. Thanks again for being my friends and for praying for me. I’ll leave you with a little “Agnus Dei” for your Tuesday.