On my way to church yesterday, “Great Are You Lord” played in my car. I first heard this song at Quest Church in Seattle in a season of grief as my best friend fought the ravages of ovarian cancer. I sang it with tears running down my face. I sometimes stared blankly in front of me. I poured out my praise through clinched teeth. The words were true, and my friend was suffering. The words were true and the answer to my prayers, pleading desperately for her healing, appeared to be “No.” However, the prayer to be a part of a sacred community, where I could sob uncontrollably whenever I needed to, and be comforted by whomever was seated nearest to me, was answered with a resounding “Yes!” I experienced the miracle of God’s tenderness and presence during a season where my heart felt filleted and laid bare.
Now, after venturing out on the snowy Chicago roads, I entered the church service late. I heard my name upfront as I was being prayed for. Again, I was a part of a loving community that made me feel seen and loved. The service ended with “Revelation Song.” I smiled and I cried. I first heard this song at my best friend’s memorial service. Every time the word “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty” was sang I was encased in so much pain, that I felt assaulted by the holiness of God. It was true. God is holy. But it was being declared simultaneously alongside my best friend’s eulogy.
The reason I was able to smile during the song was not only because of the timing. God seeing me. But, also, because of the second verse of the song.
During a season of discernment about a bold career move, I prayed and fasted about a decision that would take me away from family, dear friends and my loving Quest Church community. I didn’t have my best friend to decide if this recurring theme of “Sing a new song,” was significant. And there it was. Again. In Wendy’s song of haunting holiness, was also the voice of my friend. Advising me in the same song that was the soundtrack of my deepest sorrow, to sing a new song! I could now hear a voice of enthusiastic encouragement, excitedly pointing me to take risks, be brave and to have courage. She always modeled fearlessness. I knew this new song would welcome the return of unbridled laughter. A hallmark of our friendship.
So, with arms stretched out, there I stood. Singing “Revelation Song.” Wendy’s song. With my position and my new church family in Chicago. Where I’m singing a new song. Where my tears flow freely. Simultaneously with overflowing joy.
Together Wendy we can live with the sadness
I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul
H-Oh, Someday girl I don’t know when
We’re gonna get to that place
Where we really wanna go
And we’ll walk in the sun
But till then tramps like us
Baby we were born to run
Bruce Springsteen. Born to Run