He. Is. RISEN!!

Easter overwhelms me. More than birthdays or summer vacation or fireworks on the Fourth of July or even Christmas, Easter gets to me. Every time. This year was no exception, and it’s taken me a couple of days to process it (partly because I’ve been sick through it all and the fog in my head is just now clearing.) The sheer JOY of Easter Day is uncontainable. Just like the grave could not keep Him from rising again, this mortal body of mine cannot contain the joy in my heart that Easter brings!

As a church musician, we go through it all. We Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence as we Go to Dark Gethsemane. We play and sing the songs of Lent, which are necessary, and because music is my worship, they drain me physically. I sing the words in my head as I play through the Lenten season, working my way to the cross. By the time I get to the JOY of HE IS RISEN and the songs that go with it, my heart is a wrung-out, dry sponge just waiting to soak up all that Christ died to give me.

And maybe that’s the point. How could I ever know and appreciate all that Christ did for me if I live only in the Easter days of my life? I must experience the grief and shame weighed-down of Christ’s Sacred Head, Now Wounded before I can truly appreciate the victory that came when Up From the Grave He Arose to conquer sin and death! Christ, The Lord, Is Risen Today so that I could have LIFE and have it abundantly!! “The head that once was crowned with thorns is crowned with glory now.”

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose over death He had conquered
Now He’s ascended, my Lord evermore
Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him
From rising again

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, OH GLORIOUS DAY!!!!

Click here to listen to Casting Crowns Glorious Day.

Featured image by my daughter in law, Emily Price. May your heart’s Easter basket be filled with the goodness of our glorious God!!

 

 

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No Surprise

My niece had her baby girl yesterday, two weeks early. My daughter’s baby was due three days ago, and we’re still waiting for that precious new life to show his or her face. We don’t know what it is… They wanted to be surprised.

I love surprises, but I’m very hard to surprise (much to my husband’s consternation.) I’m a very intuitive person, and I usually know in advance what a surprise will be. Sometimes I wish it was otherwise, because it can take the joy right out of the whole situation.

That’s how God is… Impossible to surprise. He sees and knows the who, what, when, where, why and how of our lives long before we are aware of it ourselves. So why do we try to hide from God? We hide our true feelings at church and pretend our world is just fine. Isn’t church the one place we should feel free to express our sadness, loneliness, sorrow, grief, happiness, joy? With the body of Christ? Why don’t we freely express what we need to those in the family of God?

God is not surprised that I am lonely at church. He knows what’s in my heart. He sees me sit behind the piano during the sermon, trying to hide the tears in my eyes and look as though I’m intently listening to the pastor. God is not surprised that the only people on our prayer list are those who are ill or have lost a loved one. What about those suffering from depression or loneliness, even when there’s no explanation for it? I find it impossible to believe that every single marriage within the body of believers at my church is in perfect condition… That nobody is relationally challenged, at least occasionally.

Maybe, people feel as though they must hold some of that back or keep it locked inside because, if they let it out even a little, it will be impossible to stop the flood! I’ve been there. Keep it together, Keep it together, Keep it together, Keep it together… Maybe it’s because we don’t feel our personal situation is as important or as worthy as someone else’s. NOT TRUE!!!!

1 Peter 5:7 says to cast “ALL your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” ALL. It doesn’t say to cast SOME of our cares and worries on him. It doesn’t say “cast your important issues up here, but you take care of the rest.” ALL!!!! No matter what we are concerned about, no matter how petty we think it might be, God wants it all. Because when we bring it all, we bring ourselves. And that’s really what God is after, you know… Ourselves. Us. All of us. Not just the parts we think he needs to have.

We do it with our best friends or our spouses, don’t we? We make sure they’re aware of every little issue we are dealing with, or every feeling we need to talk through. That’s what God wants us to do. Cast it all on him. Bring it to him every day, all day. Lay it at His feet and know without a shadow of a doubt that God’s got this!

Click here to listen to the song in my head, God With Us by MercyMe. Emmanuel. God is WITH us!!

Overwhelmed

Yesterday was a long day with a long drive. My uncle passed away this week and his funeral was yesterday. It was a long drive across the state. The funeral home soon filled up with family and friends we had not seen in a very long time. Isn’t that the way it always is? It seems the only time we get to see some of the people in our lives is at a time like this. Maybe it’s designed that way so we can have joy in the middle of our sorrow.

As I hugged and visited with cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends, I was overwhelmed by the love given for these who have lost their father and the love received from these who care so very much. Aside from the grief expressed with tears and tissues, these people love each other with an everlasting love. God was there in that room through the comfort given by those who have been comforted. He was there in every person who wept with those who were mourning… In every hug, every fond memory, every laugh at the memory of one of Uncle John’s jokes.

It was truly overwhelming… And I kept it together until we got in the car to go to the cemetery. I don’t grieve well. I woke up this morning with the song, Overwhelmed, playing on the iPod in my brain. I looked it up in the dictionary…

o·ver·whelm[ ṑvər wélm ]
overpower somebody emotionally: to affect somebody’s emotions in a complete or irresistible way
provide somebody with huge amount: to supply somebody with a very large or excessive amount of something

This fit perfectly. Yes, we were overcome emotionally, but also there was an abundance of love in that room yesterday. The love of my family for each other, and the love of God for all of us. Some of the words to Overwhelmed

I delight myself in You
In the Glory of Your Presence
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

God, I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

I’m thankful God was in that room yesterday. We always think of being overwhelmed as a bad thing or with a negative connotation. But I can’t think of anything more wonderful than being overwhelmed by the presence of God, by his grace and his mercy.

Click here to listen to Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave.

Baptized in Grief

Sometimes grace falls like rain, and sometimes it wells up inside until it finally, and mercifully, slides down our face. I enjoyed this post and thought you may too.

writeamuck

Circular Congregational Church Charleston SC by Steven Hyatt-13-L

I used to go to church all the time. Sunday school. Sunday service. Luncheons. Wednesday night supper. Choir practice. Youth group. I drank holy water growing up the way I drink red wine today.

But until this past Monday–Memorial Day–I hadn’t been to church since my Mother’s funeral in December. Not for Christmas. Not for Easter. Not for Ash Wednesday. Or Good Friday. Or Bad Fridays. Or any damn Sunday in between.

But on Monday, at 2:30 in the afternoon, I found myself on a wooden pew of the Circular Congregational Church in downtown Charleston.

I was there for a free concert, part of an annual performing arts festival. The Festival Singers, an a Capella group from Georgia, were scheduled to perform.

The sanctuary filled quickly with locals and tourists and family members and friends. The pews groaned beneath our weight. Bearing all the burdens we didn’t even know we carried.

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