After spending the past six Sundays alone, I carefully stepped over the threshold of the house of God once again. As hesitant and unwilling as I am to do so, I am even more hesitant and unwilling to give reason for the rocks to cry out in worship in my stead. Easter is simply not a day that a little girl looking for her Lord can let pass without loving Him.
Has the girl who used to X out days on the calendar waiting for Sunday really become a C & E Christian? Is that just what becomes of little girls who love God when they finally grow up and get real?
For a short moment I began to think it was so. I believed lies by choice. Why? Because bailing is what crybabies do when bullies begin to badger them. (Even if they pretend to proudly follow Pappy and be a pug.) Besides, like Moe Brandy said, “I’ve traveled all around this country. In my time I thought I’d seen it all.” Every place is the same. I just don’t belong.
I had not seen it all, though. I’ve known a pastor for the better part of the last ten years. He has been a trusted friend and help in time of need. So, like Moe, “today I took a detour down a back road.” I visited his church and I was serendipitously greeted by “Joy.” I was welcomed by “Joy.” I was given a place of honor by “Joy.” I did not look for Joy. I did not know her. Joy found me. I guess that was her job.
Who could have guessed that the elderly lady serving as a greeting host would show me His glory on Easter Sunday? This, after a long, dark day of death. She is the one God used.
“Suddenly I realized what I’d too long forgotten.”
Joy is not a choice; it is a gift. Anyone who faults you for not having such misunderstands how it is supplanted. Joy cannot be mustered by the guilt of its absence any more than chasing personal happiness will lead you to it. Joy comes when I step with obedience into the places where God leads me – dark, difficult and dumbfounding as they may be. Because God always uses those whom he chooses. And those who seek to please him must believe that he is a rewarder.
As the pastor spoke on of the need for us to live and share the truth wherever we are, I thought of how absolute my most recent failures have been. I thought of how grieved I am for the way I’ve allowed ungodly men to dictate my ability to serve God faithfully. I am wholly ashamed of the way I’ve misrepresented Christ. I thought of how much grace I’ve been shown and how little I’ve offered. Mostly, though, I thought only of the condition of the souls of those I’ve failed to prove Christ’s authority over autonomy to. I wondered how God can ever right all of these woeful wrongs. Then, after a long, sin-filled, unbelieving hiatus, I prayed.
Prayer is hope. Prayer is faith. Prayer, for little girls who refuse to talk about what’s bothering them, is repentance.
I imagine my Father in heaven loves to hear my prayers just about as much as my daddy loved to hear Moe Brandy sing about the old country.
Regardless of what others do to harm or destroy me; regardless of how grossly I fail, joy may just greet the likes of me despite all odds. Someone told me it’s a gift, not a skill. So, I’ll keep holdin’ to the dream. Christ is still what living means to me. Arise, my love.