Sunday, January 12, 2020

"through all of it..."

"You have been
my God,
through all of it..."

Just before leaving for Sunday School this morning, I fell - deeply - into Colton Dixon's"Through All of It." It gripped my heart, and didn't let go.

We all have testimonies of witness to God's presence and power in our lives. When I arrived at church, I discovered that it was just me in the classroom today.  Me and God.  And Colton -- still singing his song in my heart.

Sitting there, I couldn't help but ask myself, "What would your witness be, Cate?" If Colton came to you, and asked you to speak your story -- what would it be?

Isn't this the question David, the Psalmist, must have been asking himself as he wrote 150 love songs to God. I think of it, every time I turn to a psalm for comfort, courage, mercy. Who wrote this song? Why did he write it? What was the story behind it?

We know much of David's narrative -- child prodigy, the one chosen by a prophet and a king, young warrior, exiled friend, husband, adulterer, father,conspirator, murderer, brother, betrayer, shamed, sorrowing, forgiven, replaced, loved, reformed, humbled child of God. Which one of these boys/men sat down -- with quill or lyre in hand -- and wept a song of love for his God?

Each time I sit down to write a post for this blog, I think of him. I don't show up in front of the keyboard as a collection of experiences. Each time, it is with one moment of God's presence in my heart -- a moment that is asking to be praised. Asking for a witness. Asking to be written so that someone else will not feel alone in their own journey.

So who is showing up at the kitchen counter today as I write? Colton's song immediately called the girl I was at 16 out of the shadows. The one who stood in the blue light of dawn at a phone booth calling her Sunday School teacher -- just to say, "I am leaving home, I can't take it anymore." I can feel that girl's terror and sorrow, the fragility of her shaking hands and her uncertainty about the future.

Not a penny to her name -- besides the dime that had been in her penny loafers for making an emergency call. And she'd used it. And she'd used it to call her Sunday School teacher. That spiritual intervention -- from a voice within -- still stuns me. Without it, I don't know that I would be alive today.

I was still a shy 16 year old girl, without skills or resources. I was unsophisticated and had been raised in the isolation of a large family that moved constantly. To be a naive, innocent girl on the streets in 1970 -- the prospects were dire. There were no shelters for runaway teens in those days. There were no hotlines or public service announcements about what to do if you were facing unthinkable alternatives. You didn't talk about these things. How did I have the courage to call her? An older woman who'd only ever seen me as part of a big, happy family.

But my Sunday School teacher didn't flinch. She listened, and then she told me that I had to go back home and "be there" for my sisters. And I obeyed. Just like that. I turned around and walked back down the long rural road, up the driveway, in the back door, and back upstairs to the bedroom I shared with my 4 younger sisters.

The abuse didn't stop that day -- but I stopped feeling like my only answer was to sacrifice myself to the streets. God was there that day. There were many times in the ensuing months when I doubted my decision, and I doubted God's love -- but never once did I think that I had made the decision to call my Sunday School teacher that morning - all on my own.

And "through it all," -- God was there. Even in what seemed to be the hardest of times -- when my family picked up stakes and left me behind to fend for myself -- God was there. I can see that now. My high school guidance counselor saw my little suitcase and intervened -- when it was my plan to just live in the school gym through the end of the term. His pastor, and his wife -- a couple I'd never even met -- offered me a place to stay until I graduated.  And on, and on, it goes.  One moment after another.

As hard as that chapter was, God was always there. Throughout my life -- through days of sorrow and days success, nights of pain and nights of peace -- God was there. Today, sitting at this kitchen counter -- five children and five grandchildren scattered across the country, bills to pay, college tuitions to navigate, a global community in need of so much love and care -- I know God is here. For all of us.

Through it all -- God is here. So, how can we keep from singing, writing, kneeling, weeping, living our hearts' praise?

offered with Love,


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