For the Sunday before I returned to CCU for my sophomore year, I was asked if I would sign Casting Crown’s “Praise You In This Storm” as part of the morning worship leading to the sermon. I said I would pray about it, because at that point in my spiritual life, me and God were not on speaking terms…I was almost angry at Him because I was not being given any answers about my physical pains and wanted them! I was being a selfish teenager all over again. So when they asked me to sign the song, I was at odds; I felt fake and even though I was still not keen on the aspect that people would be seeing me sign but not seeing what my heart was holding in brokenness, I agreed. What I experienced was life changing: raw worship. God patiently waited for me to meet Him all summer, and standing by the pulpit as the music played–my arms moved to the words, but I was not there in thought. I was staring at the back wall, sobbing and told God that this is what I wanted, to praise Him in the storms.
That Sunday was a defining moment in my faith, pertaining to my physical thoughts. Thinking back,my life has been filled with raw worship–raw: leaving me vulnerable, humbled, changed through both the joys and tears. I am still learning and this weekend was no different than any other, besides what God revealed to me in one word (well two, sort of linked together), songs and a verse from Psalm 57 written on an index card, adorned with a sticker of two white swans on the water.
Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,
For my soul takes refuge in Thee.
And in the shadow of Thy wings, I will take refuge,
Until destruction passes by.” ~Psalm 57:1
A few days after my signing experience, we were given some answers from Children’s Hospital as they examined my MRI again. I headed to Denver for the fall semester and had one of the best of college years! The day my family dropped me off and helped me unload my masses of stuff on the second floor room, my Mom handed me a thick envelope and told me not to open it until they had left. I didn’t wait long after I waved them a farewell from my window (which faced the parking lot) and inside the envelope, I found a long letter and the biggest stack of small index cards each with stickers and verses, all hand written. Mom might not have known at the time how much these cards would be my daily small reminders of the truths and promises I can cling to in any circumstance.
I have to admit, I am getting tired of talking about my vision and I am sure you are ready to hear something new. But until after my eye appointment on Tuesday (finally), I think God is preparing me for the next step, that I do not know what it will be…but as I see, the “waiting to see if the optic nerve will decrease in swelling” period is over. Because the longer I wait, the more my eyes go in a direction that is seeming to show that there is still obvious swelling; it just may be this way and while my vision remains, I want to see more clearly (hence glasses). Although even with glasses, my vision will be off, because the light and dark has changed. I have said it before that it is like looking through a grey veil; but after a Skype conversation with my cousin, I found a better word: shadow.
“I can still see,” I say as I demonstrate on the video chat holding down my left eye. “But what I see is in the light, everything else is like in shadows.” I read Mom’s index card the next day. It started to make sense…the image of the swans’ wings, just thinking of being protected under big wings…but then I thought of God and in Him there is no darkness, so even though I am under His shadow, I am in Light. I was in the midst of finishing Martin Smith’s autobiography, Delirious: My Journey with the Band, a Growing Family, and an Army of History Makers, so the worship songs were fresh in mind as I was reading how sings were penned in different circumstances, lessons or God moments. One stood out among the rest–“Did You eel the Mountains Tremble?” and in the second verse, it sings,
Do you feel the darkness tremble?
When all the saints join in one song
And all the streams flow as one river
To wash away our brokeness
*Words by Martin Smith
Like I said, I don’t know what God is teaching me in this, but I just feel it is preparing me for something, whether Tuesday or elsewhere down the road…and because I’ve chosen to dwell in refuge under the Shadow of God’s Wings, the Darkness trembles.