I’ve done some difficult things lately. I need to remind myself of that when I feel like I still can’t do anything. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that the verse I chose to repeat to myself during my last treatment was Acts 2:25-26, “I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope.” The next time I went to Celebrate Recovery after treatment, I decided to try and test out my new stamina and stand for worship. I made it through almost a whole song before I had to sit down and then we sang “Living Hope”, by Phil Wickham. It was my hug from God letting me know that, no matter what, I’m going to be okay with Him.
Then I gathered even more courage and started going to church. Church is very hard for me for a lot of reasons. Leaving the house in general is very hard for me. If you see me at church and I appear to ignore you, it’s only because I am hyper-focused on survival, just making it from point A to point B (car to seat). If I don’t do that, all the faces swirl around me and I’ll never make it. My brain will sometimes play me a review later in the day and I’ll realize I ignored someone and feel bad about it pretty much for the rest of my life (J.E., I know you said “hi” to me at the Good Friday service… though it didn’t register at the time. I’m sorry. Good to see you). Yes, these are the things that play through my brain constantly. I am getting better at not beating myself up as much… slowly. Anyway, I struggle with attending church probably more than anything else. But every Sunday since I’ve been back, we have sung “Living Hope.” God hugs. I may be absolutely trembling the whole time I’m there, but I’m going to be okay.
Now that Easter is over, I know we won’t be singing that song every Sunday and it sounds so silly but I started to wonder if I could make through without that song. Umm… hello? What am I even thinking? I have the REAL Living Hope with me all the time. Who needs a song? He’s so much better than a song. Jesus plays in my head more beautifully than a song, fills my heart up better than a song, speaks to me even when words fail, and gives me chills with His nearness more often than a song. If I really believe the words that I’m singing, I need to start acting like it. “In desperation, I turned to heaven and spoke Your name into the night. Then through the darkness, Your loving kindness tore through the shadows of my soul. The work is finished. The end is written. Jesus Christ, my Living Hope.” I cried out to Jesus so many nights and He absolutely tore through the dark shadows of my soul. I am so comforted by the fact that the end is already written so I can quit trying so hard. IT IS FINISHED. “Beautiful Savior, I’m Yours forever. Jesus Christ, my Living Hope. Hallelujah! Praise the One who set me free. Hallelujah! Death has lost its grip on me.” I am His forever. Death has finally lost its grip on me and I feel the chains of all that I’ve allowed to keep hold of me slowly slipping off. Praise the One who set me free!
I quite often try to cling to things to get me through whatever I need to do, whether it be a song, a hyper-focus on the end, or even physically clinging to my husband. Am I alone in this? Maybe you do the same thing. I wonder what would happen if we cling to Jesus, the real Living Hope, during the hard things. Focusing on His presence will surely cast out fear if we let it. He is our ever-present God hug. We’re going to be okay.
God, I pray for the comfort of Your presence. I pray for a deep awareness of Your nearness. I pray for our hearts to be constantly reminded of our connection to You. Just as a song can get stuck in our heads, may You be stuck on a continuous loop in our hearts, giving us peace and strength to keep walking from points A to Z. Oh yes, and give us the ability to look up into the eyes of Your people along the way, even if we trip over our own feet. Help us love each other enough to embrace our awkwardness and anxieties. Grow Your love in us. In the name of Jesus, our Living Hope, Amen.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade- kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." - 1 Peter 1:3-5