To an 8-year-old little girl, the scene was Christmas postcard perfect.
A cold, dark night with dazzling, crisp stars wrapped the evening as I walked into the country church, complete with white clapboard and stained-glass windows that whispered of real wax candles shining inside.
Walking inside, I’m welcomed by the musty scent of old wooden pews, their creaks and groans mingling with the cacophony of the saints greeting one another as those waxy candles trembled in the early December whistles creeping in around the sills surely 75 years old.
We were late, and the pianist’s trill was calling parishioners to their benches. Then, there it was, I remember like it happened tonight. The voices joined together as one choir despite age, chilly breezes, and children’s cries, “O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant”.
I knew the rest of the lyrics, but my soul swelled and it was as if time lingered on those eight words, warming me. Those words were a wide welcome into the arms of the newly birthed Savior, now born in me.
“Joyful and Triumphant”
I knew inside me what these wrinkly faced farmers and wives had known for decades; Christ had come to eradicate sin and death for them making them new day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:14-18)
I had given my heart and life to Jesus just one month prior and in that saintly choir, the freshness of the gospel’s hope simply awed me. As I took my seat, my black patent shoes dangling over the red-cushioned pew bench, I knew Hope shone brilliantly inside me, holding me.
Fast forward 30+ years, the crisp, fall leaves and glorious afternoon sunlight beckoned me deeper into the harmonics of an autumnal forest. I laced up my running shoes and begged the Lord to come and let me hear from Him. It was the day I set aside every year to run, pray, and praise the Lord with smiles and tears for the baby boy I carried inside, but never held in my arms.
Faithful. Faithful. Faithful.
Though it was still nearly 3 months until Christmas, the rhythm of my running shoes matched cadence with my swinging black patents decades prior. The Spirit’s clear voice reminded me of His faithfulness to me despite my losses and griefs. Then He pointed to my shoes and whispered, “Your feet are to be fitted with My gospel, not self-defense weaponry.”
My lungs lost their air as it took only a split second to know, of course, the Lord was right.
While He had been faithful again and again, wooing me, loving me, and carrying me from my first “yes” to Jesus right through every “no” I’d told Him too, I had traded in gospel shoes for self-protective footwear that ran the other way if I felt threatened. Grief and loss have a way of surreptitiously eroding our purpose and mission, even if it’s just little bit by little bit.
“O come all ye faithful,
joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and adore Him,
born the King of angels.
O come let us adore Him.
O come let us adore Him.
Christ, the Lord.”
(O Come All Ye Faithful)
In those thin-air moments of realization that I had again been unfaithful, the gospel freshly warmed my soul like sunlight playing on dancing leaves. The Lord’s conviction is like that, pointed, sharp, and unmistakable, but followed with the warmest of love and solace as He forgives and draws us near.
Where I fell short, my Father had not for a solitary moment lessened the fervor of His faithfulness. In fact, it was His faithfulness that drew me back to Him, growing His character of steadfastness in me by His Spirit! Incredulous grace!
Make no mistake, I was counted among the faithful saints who gathered that starry December night when I was eight, and I was counted among the faithful saints when His conviction struck me on my run. I was counted faithful not because I deserve it, I don’t, but because He Is Faithful. His Spirit in me refuses to allow me to return to muddy mire of life without Jesus.
Let us draw near with a true heart
in full assurance of faith,
with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience
and our bodies washed in pure water.
Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering,
since He who promised is faithful.
With fresh tears in my eyes as I write, I’m warmed again as the chorus swirls around me,
“O Come Let Us Adore Him.”
Yes, Sisters, let’s do just that.
Let’s come and adore because He is worthy.
Let’s come and adore despite our messes, our losses, our wounds, and disappointments.
Let’s come and adore though all we have to bring is tattered worship, let’s come to the Only One Worthy and sing with the saints, “Christ the Lord.”
Worship XII, Day 9
The author confidently pens these words to strengthen and encourage his readers to not give up, despite their suffering and challenging circumstances.
The unshakeable is coming. Hope is for the Now in the light of the Then.
Worship, sister, worship.
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