Friday, April 3, 2009

The One With All the Faith

In one of the best experiences of my life, Hubby and I went with my parents to the Steven Curtis Chapman/Michael W. Smith United Tour. We actually were supposed to go to this concert back in October, but there was a  mixup with getting the tickets, and so we missed it. I'm now so very, very thankful that we did, because this was a much more opportune time for me to be in the presence of God in such an amazing way.

You can hear all sorts of people talk about the goodness of God. You can sit in church and learn about his grace, mercy, sovereignty, and love. You can know all the verses, all the lyrics and have everything wrapped up in the neat little boxes of "Christianity." But then, you can hear it from a man who less than a year past burying his 5 year old daughter, who not only has had to wrestle with God and what his goodness really means, but who has chosen to do so in the eyes of countless other believers. I was so blessed. I knew as we walked in the doors to the sound of him leading the audience in "Blessed Be" that this concert would be like any other I had attended. As we lifted our voices to sing "You give and take away/You give and take away/My heart will choose to say/Lord, blessed be your name" I felt the tears streaming down my face as I reflected on my own loss, and my own glimpses of God's grace in the past 6 days. There were so many moments where he gave us a glimpse of his brokenness, a peak into the pain he has experienced in the past 10 months. But deeper than that was an incredible hope and faith; a certainty that won over confusion and emptiness. My favorite song of the evening was "Yours." It's an amazing song to begin with, one he recorded before Maria died. After she went to heaven, he was processing through some of his grief and realized that he hadn't completed his song. The fourth verse, now added on the re-released version goes like this: "I've walked the valley of Death's shadow/So deep and dark I could barely breathe/I've had to let go of more than I can bear/And questioned everything that I believe/but still even here/in this great darkness/a comfort and hope come breaking through/and I can say in life or death/God, we belong to you/It's all yours, God." To be able to write those words so soon after such a tragedy is astounding to me. And while I appreciate his faith and openness, I also know that ALL of the glory of his story belongs to God. There is nothing about him that makes him able to speak those words--it is ALL by the grace of God.

I can say that firmly because I know that every moment of happiness and peace and even laughter that I've experienced this week (and there have been MANY!) have been nothing to do with my strong faith, or my wonderful handling of this situation--but have been the direct result of God's grace. I am in awe that he has protected my heart so well from anger and confusion; that he has given me the strength to handle each day of this. It is 100% for the glory of God and 0% anything I've done. I'm not typically a great handler of tough times--just ask anyone who talked to me the year after my cousin died. I'm a dweller, a despair-er, a wallower. God, and God alone, has lifted me from this pit and is keeping me from the valley this time. I do not know why. But I am so incredibly thankful. I owe much to all of you as well--you have loved my husband and I tremendously well. We have had wonderful week, growing together and being blessed. 

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts :)


kp said...

hey ashley! just popped over to your blog from facebook. i wanted to share that "blessed be" was THE song that helped me when i lost a baby. so glad it is blessing you too! sounds like you had a great night and i am blessed and awed by the amazing strength and honesty with which you are handling things. much love!

karen palumbo

Sydney McFearless said...

Hello Ashlina 323! That will always be your name to me. And my life would SUCK without you! Haha. Anyway, I thank you for share what's wonderful with you! I love hearing such things from people who, as the world will tell us, have legitimate reasons to only complain. You're such a blessing to all of us!