"...He speaks and the sound of his voice
is so sweet the birds hush their singing_
And the melody that he gave to me
within my heart is ringing...
And he walks with me,
and He talks with me,
And He tells me that I am His own
And the joy we share
as we tarry there
None other has ever known..."
- Traditional gospel
A friend reminded me of this much loved gospel song today and I haven't been able to let it go. My favorite version of this song was recorded by Christian lay-pastor, missionary, and pianist, John Wells. The depth of love he felt for his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, poured through the microphone and onto tape one rainy November day over 25 years ago. I felt as if I were in the presence a disciple as I sat on the stairs listening to him singing from behind the large glass window that separated the control room and the recording studio.
Since I don't have a post-able version of John's recording, here is a link to Alan Jackson's performance of "In the Garden." It come's as close as anything I've seen in communicating domething of John's quiet passion for these verses.
I've had a number of "in the garden" moments with Christ recently. The latest was so moving I thought I'd share it.
One evening I severely injured my ankle in a fall and instead of the pain and swelling subsiding after a long night of prayer, by dawn I found myself unable to even shift the position of my leg in bed without coming close to passing out.
My husband was working in a distant city, I had school age children to care for, and a puppy who needed to be taken out on leash a number of times each day. I was terrified by how alone and helpless I felt. Our children were cooperative, but neither was old enough to drive themselves to school, and to be honest, I wasn't sure how I would cope with the searing pain one more second.
I called a dear friend who, without question, came and picked up our puppy to care for at her home. She also offered to get the girls to school and I accepted. Once the girls were off to school, and I knew the pup was being cared for, I collapsed. I had contacted another friend to pray with me, but I was not feeling any genuine peace of mind myself. I was so tired and sleep had eluded me through a long night of crawling to the bathroom on my hands and knees, and up the stairs to wake the girls for school in the morning.
I felt as if I had been praying continuously, but the screaming voice of "what if" had me terrified. I couldn't stop wondering how I would care for my children. The friend who I knew was praying with me stopped by later that morning and I felt safe enough to let down my false pride and fall apart. Her kindness helped immensely, but after she left I was back to square one. I was frightened, in pain, and alone.
I opened the Full-text Edition of the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson lying next to me in bed. I was prepared to guzzle "living waters"...inspirational statements and stories, from the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures...like a thirsty man crossing a parched desert. The first statement my eyes fell upon were right at the top of the page:
"And the Lord was with Joseph..."
Something about those words poured over, and through, me like warm honey. I realized in that very moment that this statement was true for me too...right then and there. "And the Lord was with Kate..." This was all that mattered. It didn't matter how long I was in that bed, or that I was tense with pain and fear..."The Lord was with me..."
Suddenly I was happy. Really, genuinely, truly happy. Happy in a way that I don't think I have ever felt before. A happiness unlike any I'd ever known.
Knowing that "..the Lord was with..." me, my children, my family, my husband, my friends, my neighbors, all the "little children of the world, little boys and little girls..." made me happy. It filled me up, it radiated from a core of light deep inside of me, it permeated every molecule of my being. It was enough. I didn't need anyone to pray for me...I really didn't even need to pray for myself. I knew the truth that I had God right there with me in a very visceral way. I could feel it. It was so clear to me. All that was left to do or think was, "Thank you Lord..."
I was no longer afraid...at all. I was at peace with where God had placed me that day. I was happy in bed, because obviously that was where God wanted me to be. If it wasn't where He wanted me, I knew...without a shadow of a doubt...that I would be somewhere else.
It sounds so simplistic, but well, it was. That happiness was bigger than the pain. It was more overwhelming than the fear. It was greater than all the "what if"s that tried to scream their way into my being...to penetrate my peace...but just couldn't get past the radiating light and happiness that seemed to, quite literally, eradicate the darkness when it even tried to approach.
Did the pain stop right away and was I walking later that day? No. But I stopped caring about "when" or "how". I had crutches. I could get to the bathroom and, more importantly, I had "the Lord with me." I had wonderful friends who would love my children, puppy...and me. I had a husband who would keep me laughing at myself, and who loved me just the way I was. I was fine. Better than fine. "The Lord was with me...Kate." I started loving this very sweet and intimate journey with Him. I was happy. I still am.