Teetering is a Balancing Act

2021 began innocently enough. And then, as they say, you-know-what hit the fan.

My mom died suddenly, and my son announced his 23-year marriage was over. Two people I love were out of the picture, just like that. We may have more social freedom than 2020, but the bondage of family turmoil and grief are just as confining. The last 5 months have been, in a word, sad.

The Builder and our son were out to dinner together the other night and had a really great time. Until they didn’t. Mike came in the door hurt and angry. I texted Michael but he didn’t seem to think there was a problem. This was heavy on my mind the next morning and I was missing my mom with that wave of longing that comes out of nowhere. We are coming into the final stages of selling her house and closing a chapter. Or a book.

Or a life.

Yesterday morning I headed off to Bible Study but almost turned my car around on the way because I knew I was teetering on the top of a slippery slope that would lead nowhere good. But I stayed the course because the need to be with my friends in person instead of Zoom kept me going. I have weathered life for the past 30-35 years with most of these girls and this is a safe group of women who know me well. We have shared so many of life’s ups and downs, loves, losses, victories, and defeats, and they were all there in various ways for me during my cancer diagnosis and treatments. So I go.

Two minutes in, Cindy comes to give me a hug and a kind word. Trying to hold on to self-control, I back away, turn around and my elbow knocks a bowl of fruit out of Nancy’s hands, spilling onto the floor along with all those tears I fought to control all the way up Route 532. Ahhhh!!! A quick clean up and we start on a study of the Beatitudes.

You know, blessed are these and those…

 The discussions that arise in this group of 10 are interesting, and full of laughter. We are diverse in politics, backgrounds, life experience and education, but united in Christ and our love for each other. It’s irreplaceable, really.

Cindy throws out a question about what delights you most about the Lord, or something to that effect. As an example, Cindy said that she “delights in reading the Word.”

And that stopped me cold.

Do I delight in reading the Word?

Not really. I mean, I’ve read through the Bible cover to cover a few times. I do daily devotions and look up scripture when I need it. I’ve done more than my share of Bible Studies and gained tremendous knowledge and insight through them. But do I DELIGHT in reading the Bible?

I’m supposed to, right?

I was left feeling somehow flawed, because… true confessions here…I delight more in reading a good novel.

An unfolding story told in the right way will call me from another room. I make time to discover the plot. I love a good, crafted sentence, an inspiring life story, intrigue, mystery, and even suspense. I know all this can be found in the Bible, but it doesn’t delight me in the same way.

There’s no sense in denying this or pretending otherwise because it says in Psalm 139:2 that “He knows my thoughts from afar.” He even knows when I sit or stand, so I am totally busted here.

When I shared this with my friends, I added… but I DO delight in Worship.

That’s my thing.

I admire all the researchers and commentary seekers, but I’m just not wired that way. I’m more sensory/emotionally connected, and so worship is my go-to. When I am spent, I worship. When I am sad, I worship. When I can’t pray, I worship.

On the flip side, when I’m happy, grateful, and joyful I worship. There is nothing that brings me closer to God than worship. In fact, through most of my cancer-driven sleepless nights, that is what I did with my time.

It was quickly pointed out to me that worship songs are based in scripture, so there you have it,

I AM delighting myself in the Word!

Nothing like good friends to set you straight. And there is nothing better than God Himself backing it up.

But you must read the rest of the story to hear how.

I got home, still teetering on the emotional edge, made dinner, set the table, poured a glass of wine, and waited. The Builder came hustling through the kitchen with his notepads and a rueful glance at the table, full of heartfelt apology about how he had to leave, or he would be late for his meeting. I nodded, grabbed my glass of wine, and hit the DVR button on the TV to watch the final 2-hour episode of Blue Bloods that I recorded for such a time as this.

Which I cried all the way through.

Maybe because the episode was about fighting in a tight, solid family that loves and supports each other but it was over feelings. And perceptions. Then I went to bed.

I woke up this morning, still on edge. What is WRONG with me?? The Builder, always ready with a hug, understood. Occasionally he misses the mark, but most often he understands me more than I understand myself. Mike encouraged me to get out of the house and go for a walk on this beautiful morning. It’s only 6:30, and not 90 degrees yet. I grab my EarPods and phone and head for my usual 3-mile destination.

Instead of listening to a podcast, I decide to put on (come on, you can guess!) worship music. I tried to select something specific, but I was walking in the sun and couldn’t see the screen, so instead I just hit Pandora, Lauren Daigle Station with a sigh and a

“You pick it, Lord, you know what I need” prayer.

And here’s where the magic happens. Not magic, magic… but MAGIC, as in the WONDER OF GOD!!! The mystery of Him meeting our needs when we need Him, right where we are. The absolute certainty He really does know our thoughts.

The first song to come on was Love Like This by Lauren Daigle.         

When I am a wasteland
You are the water
When I am a winter
You are the fire that burns

When I am a long night
You are the sunrise
When I am a desert
You are the river, that turns… to find me

  What have I done to deserve love like this?
I cannot earn what you so freely give
What have I done to deserve love like this?

By the time she hit the hallelujah part, my chin came up. And truth-to-tell, so did my arms.  Anyone looking out the window of the Saint Mary Rehab Center was probably mildly curious.

The second song was Rescue Story by Zach Williams.

There I was, empty-handed
Crying out from the pit of despair
There you were in the shadows
Holding out your hand, you met me there.

You were the voice in the desert
Calling me out in the dead of night
Fighting my battles for me
You are my rescue story

Ok, now He had my attention.

The third song was Word of God Speak by Mercy Me

I’m finding myself in the midst of you
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with you
And in the quiet, hear your voice.

Word of God speak
Would you pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see your majesty
To be still and know that you’re in this place
Please let me stay and rest, in your holiness
Word of God speak

Next came Counting Every Blessing by Rend Collective.

Now I have a skip in my step.

I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Letting go and trusting when I cannot see
I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Surely every season you are good to me!

Delight is setting in. I could feel the inner transition.

And you know what?

Worship delights the Lord as well, so it’s a win/win.

We are in it together.

Song 5 is Rescue by Lauren Daigle. A master at expression of the heart of God!

I hear you whisper underneath your breath
I hear your SOS, your SOS

 I will send out an army
To find you in the middle of the darkest night
It’s true
I will rescue you.

Gratitude sets in, the basis for true worship.

The 6th song is No Longer Slaves from Bethel, and by now I’m beginning to sense the victory:

You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance from my enemies
Til all my fears are gone.

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God.

I am surrounded by the arms of the Father
I am surrounded by songs of deliverance
We’ve been liberated from our bondage
We’re the son’s and the daughters
Let us sing our freedom!

I changed the word “fear” to “grief”, and as I strode the path, a fox stopped by the edge of the woods and watched me with curiosity

You split the sea so I could walk right through it
My fears (grief) were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me so I could stand and sing

Ok, I’m pretty sure I was only shouting on the inside,

but I may or may not have punched the air a few times as I thought about marching through a split sea to safety. And I stopped walking because it’s difficult to walk with your eyes closed, hands raised, and circling in place.

I’m also pretty sure the staff in the rehab facility (that has LOTS of windows) thought I needed to be inside.

But as I climbed back into my car for the ride home, I pulled up to the traffic light to wait for green, and no kidding,

I look at the sky over the hospital and there are sunbeams shooting through the clouds

in an upside-down arch, every beam pointing towards the earth. As this unusual and beautiful sky caught my attention, Carrie Underwood breaks into How Great Thou Art.

“Ok, God, now you’re showing off” I think as I laugh out loud, and as I roll onto State Street, I hear Natalie Grant sing King of the World. A gentle reminder not to forget

How could I make you so small
When you’re the one who holds it all?

I thought about how God orchestrated my delight in worship music to walk me through the parted sea to stable ground, once again.

He demonstrated through a series of reminders:

His overwhelming love I don’t deserve

He is there with hand extended any time I want to grab hold of it

Be still and rest in His presence, so He can clear my thinking, and t

What, are you blind, deaf, and dumb? Look at all your blessings! Even in the death
of things and people you love, you are BLESSED, woman!!

He will ALWAYS rescue me, even in my darkest night, and because of that

I don’t have to be a slave to my feelings of fear, angst, and (presently), grief!

He unraveled me with a melody, surrounded me with song, and delivered me to a
safe place. Once again.

And because I personally think God has a sense of humor,

He tacked on the display of his handiwork along with How Great Thou Art and a gentle reminder of who really is in charge… The King of the World.  

Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up.

And I’ve just given you an awesome new playlist to create.

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