Yesterday morning, I poured myself a cup of coffee, and I settled in with my journal, my Bible, my pens, and my ipod: the very tools I held when I started this journey exactly five years ago.
I asked God to guide my thoughts and my pen, even the songs on my playlists, so he would lead me exactly where he wanted me to go. It’s been my experience that when I ask God to take me on a journey, he always proves to be an excellent tour guide.
I listened to one song after another from a 2011 playlist called On The Mat, named after the paralyzed man whose friends carried him to Jesus. I learned so much about him that year; I identified so deeply with how he must have felt to let them carry him, watching their exhaustion deepen, but humbly knowing he had no choice or strength except to simply let them love him.
So I settled in, and I just followed my heart down a path of songs and words, looking for themes and lyrics that could carry my heart through the day.
Sara Groves, You’ve Always Been Faithful.
Chris Tomlin, I Lift My Hands.
And then Shannon Wexelberg, I Have A Song.
I have a song and I’m singing to my Savior
Singing to the One who set me free.
I have a song and my heart will ever praise Him.
This world can never take this joy from me.
When all hope is gone, I have a song.
I wrote and I sang. I sang and I wrote. The blend was just the anchor I needed for my spirit on a day when I might have floated away. I leaned into it, and when I was ready, I went on with my day – with my phone in my pocket, my earbuds in, and my songs carrying me through.
This Christmas, I’m singing with the choir at Southeast Christian Church, my home church in Parker, Colorado. At our church we celebrate big over several days, multiple service times, and even various venues both live and online. It all started last night, on Christmas Eve-Eve.
(Or Festivus, for some of you.) (Extra points for the Seinfeld reference, please.)
When I signed on to sing with the choir this season, I signed on in a step of faith. After all, after weeks of rehearsal, we would launch our holiday celebration on the hardest day of my year.
I might not want to do it, I told myself.
I might want to stay in bed and hide, I said.
My heart might be in the miserable-invisible place, I reminded myself.
(I talk to myself a lot sometimes. Especially at Christmas.)
And then I reminded myself that I only ever ask myself to ‘do the next thing.’ So I joined the choir and I signed up to sing.
There was a narrow window between two hours of rehearsal and the launch of the first service when I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to sing. I just… I don’t know… I hit a wall. So much music, so much joy, so much festivities. That’s the thing about Christmas: it demands so much joy and happiness on a schedule.
Perhaps I overestimated what I could do, I thought.
Perhaps I underestimated the commitment, I thought.
Again with the talking to myself.
I was just about to wave the white flag when I remembered what God had given me that morning, just several hours earlier, when I asked him to show me the words I needed to carry me through the day.
I Have A Song.
Well, I guess I'm staying to sing, I told myself.
If ever I have brought a sacrifice of praise, it was on this night. I could have gone home, turned on Netflix, and eaten a pint or two of ice cream. But instead, on this anniversary of five years to the day, I raised my voice and my candle to praise the One who has set me free.
I sang words like, “He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”
And, “Born that men no more may die.”
And, “Come and see what God has done.”
And, “Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation. Sing all you citizens of heaven above,” a most powerful lyric on the very anniversary of Robb's arrival as a citizen of heaven.
The candle lighting was glorious, and the music was wholly other. I can't wait to do it all again.
(But I'm not wearing the red high heels next time. That was absurd. Tricia, come on. Think with your feet in mind.)
A friend sent me this picture at the end of the night. You can see me there on the left, my makeup long gone, my hair less than fresh, and my voice likely tired from the sheer volume of singing my harmonies for hours at that point.
But the joy. Can you see the joy? That’s why I came tonight. This is why I sing.
Glory in the highest, indeed.
I have a song.
* * *
Please join us for one of our six identical services on
Christmas Eve at Southeast Christian Church, either live or online.
I’ll be there. Singing.