Monday, June 26, 2006

The Man on the Roof

He smiled and waved and I politely smiled back. I thought he was smiling because of the three year-old in my arms. We watched as her mother pulled out of the driveway, out to run errands and have some time to herself. He made another pass across the front of the house as we watched, but this time he puckered his lips and gave me an unsettling look. I closed the door and locked it.

All morning they pounded on the roof, tearing off shingles and throwing them into the dumpster below. It was hot, and the sun was relentlessly shining. Maggie Beth insisted on playing outside and I reluctantly agreed. As we stepped out, I felt his eyes on me. I was afraid to look up, but I glanced every now and then. His eyes beat down on me harder than the mid-day sun.

And without a word or an action, he made me feel disrespected. Angry. Violated. Intruded upon. We went inside early. I was relieved when the roofers left for a while, and even more relieved when her mother returned. I hurried to my car and didn't even glance upward. I still felt his eyes on me as I pulled away. I shook my head in disgust and went home.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Imagine with me...

The stage was lit with a muted blue and a slight haze hung over the crowd. I sat with my side to the audience, resting my hands on the keys and breathing in deeply. I looked into the darkness of the back stage, silently offering a prayer. I exhaled and played the first notes of a broken chord. C minor.

It was such a versatile that could be made so intensely beautiful, capturing the deepest of reflections. Yet it was also used for classical, pop, rock, latin and even metal songs. But not tonight. Tonight, it was quiet, pensive, worshipful.

As I played, each note filled the room with its beauty. And in that moment, it became so much more than just music, so much more than air vibrating at certain frequencies. It became a thought, a story, a conversation with God. He was there, enveloping the atmosphere with His peace. Though my hands were moving, I felt perfectly still.

Gradually, more instruments came in. The guitarist was playing one note at a time with an e-bow. It was almost as if it were the voice of an angel, the kind of sound that penetrates into the human heart, dismissing all distraction. The drums began to softly play a snare, just toms. And from there, it built. The song rose, and so did our hearts.

It was as if we were about to burst, compelled to respond to a God beyond expression. No words, just the song, surrounding us and carrying us nearer to the One we worshipped. The lines between the band and the audience blurred. We were all children. We were all His. And He was very present, beckoning us closer, further, deeper...

And I realized...this is why I live.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Rush Hour Revelations

Watch for this in the God/Worship section of Relevant Magazine's online edition within the next month or so. :-)

It was rush hour. Cars. Merging. Radio. Noise. Heat. Haze. Lightning. Noise. Thoughts. Worries. Logic. Noise. It was too much. About 15 minutes into my drive, I turned off the radio, rolled up my windows and timidly said, “Okay, God. Where do I start?”

I felt so jumbled, out of my element, scattered. I realized I was trying to hide behind the noise, as if it could conceal my condition from the One who truly understood. I was feeling overwhelmed that day, wanting just to retreat back to familiarity. So many heartbreaking things were happening to my closest friends, and I wasn’t able to be there with them. Facing life in a large metropolitan area far from home was proving to be quite the challenge.

I imagine I felt much like Peter did when he stepped out of the boat onto the raging sea that stormy night. I couldn’t help but look at the waves all around me, and I was feeling them begin to wash over me. But my faith told me differently. I knew I could come to Him.

With tears in my eyes, I began sorting through the things on my heart and my mind. And as I talked with Him, I felt Him speaking back to me in that still, small voice that I had needed so desperately to hear. With all the noise and distraction around me, His voice was what I truly needed to continue on.

“I trust You,” I said to Him at one point. I paused, wondering how many times had I said that phrase in prayer. “That’s so much easier said than done, Lord.” I realized that this was where the rubber met the road. My challenge was to put those words into action. And again in His still, small voice, I felt Him say to me, “Yes, Rachel. But it’s so much stronger done than said.”

I was speechless. I find that He has a way of doing that to me in the midst of the most noise-filled moments of my life. I took a step back and looked at what my life had been between my last heart-to-heart with God up until that point in time. I realized how much worry, hurt and frustration had kept me from Him. I was amazed at how my human logic had even caused interference as I struggled with my finances. In my reflection, I also saw the times that I had come to Him in worship. He had embraced me and showed that I truly was at home…in the center of His will.

And in His powerful way of doing things, He showed me that He is mindful of me every single moment. No matter what path He has led me down, lonely or filled with loved ones, He has always given me peace. And in my most vulnerable times, the truest worship has flowed from me when I quiet myself and sit down at His feet. All He has asked of me is to simply take that step toward Him, and then He meets me right where I am.