Have you ever had the honor of listening to a huge talented choir sing? There is this moment when they come to the chorus, your ears and your soul are flooded with such a gorgeous intermixing of notes working together in harmony that it makes the hairs on your arms stand up and you even tear up because it’s so beautiful? Your chest almost swells like it wants to fill itself with the sounds that are coming in. It’s such a fulfilling experience. You find yourself wanting more.
Several years ago, my friend Janice was fighting against breast cancer that had spread. This woman was someone I’d known my whole life. She’s been my bible school teacher, her and her husband were friends of my parents, her kids are my friends. They used to even host our youth group at their house. Janice could sing like you wouldn’t believe. To top it off, her husband Gary can sing amazingly and so can all of her 4 children. She and her husband were involved in theater, they did musicals, she was a high school music teacher and she was in our church choir. I grew up listening to her sing and I LOVED it. When I was a kid, she would sing at church with her husband and I would close my eyes and try to absorb it into my pores. It was always that good. She had a full bodied, clear, perfect pitch.
As an adult, she really reached out to me when my body fell apart. She somehow had a great feel for when I would be awake late at night, unable to sleep because of pain, recovering from surgery, and just generally feeling so stressed that I couldn’t relax. She would send me a Facebook message asking if I was up and we would chat back and forth. She was fighting cancer and having treatments, and understood all of those things. We would confide in and take turns encouraging each other and just making each other laugh. We emailed and sent cards back and forth. Eventually, Janice got the news that the cancer had really spread. We both knew that it didn’t look good. I will never forget the last email she sent me. I still have it in my inbox. I can’t delete it. She told me that she hurt to much to get back and forth from her computer, and that she had treasured our chats and shared prayers, and she was so sorry, but she couldn’t email anymore. She said she would keep praying and that she loved me.
Because she lives about 5 states away from me, I did send her cards after that. I knew someone could give them to her or read them to her. I knew if she’d sent that email, she had waited till it was nearly impossible for her to even be sitting there writing it.
On a Sunday, my church got word that she was failing fast. We were praying for her. Our entire congregation was praying for her. During the many prayers being offered, I had to use the restroom. If my bladder is one thing…it is irreverent. A real hooligan. I’m telling you, if I had my name called for a Nobel Prize, I would miss it because I had to go to the bathroom 30 seconds before I was called. Anyway, I excused myself to the restroom and took care of the annoyance. I was alone and I washed my hands. As I started drying them with a paper towel, I heard congregational singing. My first thought was, “Seriously? She is dying, and we can’t pray a little longer? I don’t want to be done praying.”
Our chapel is immediately visible when you open the women’s restroom door. As I listened to this singing, I threw my paper towel in the trash, and opened the door. What I saw, shook me to the very core of my being. Everyone was still kneeling in earnest prayer, and I was still hearing this music. My church congregation wasn’t singing…but a heavenly congregation sure was. The sound of harmonious perfection grew louder in my ears. I allowed the women”s restroom door to ease to a close and I stood there paralyzed by the sounds at the pinnacle of musical harmony. Sounds that were so many and so full, that I can’t even begin to describe it. It was like every note dancing together in and ebb and flow of absolute unity. By now I realized that I was listening to the hosts of Heaven in praise and love and joy. During this moment, I didn’t hear any spoken words, but I knew the message. Janice was going home to that, and it was going to be okay. I stood there still frozen, while the glorious beautiful sounds grew quieter and then eventually to silence. I walked out of that bathroom dumbfounded at what I had just heard, but I knew she was going home very soon to that same amazing sound, and I was even a bit jealous. It was that wonderful. I never wanted even the sound of Heaven to end. I can only imagine how the sight of it in full glory will actually be some day.
Janice passed the next day. Though I was very sad for me, I had joy for her. I knew she was there singing. You know the music has to be good in Heaven. They’ve got soul. I know…I didn’t deem myself a lame author for nothing.
I am so thankful that my physical breakdown happened at the same time as hers. She is one of a select handful of precious friends I made through this, who were also going through grave trials. Those friendships were a tremendous strength to me. Though 3 of them are no longer here on earth, I know our lives intertwined for a beautiful span of time for God’s purpose. To strengthen, learn from one another, and encourage. That was no accident. It was a note being played out in God’s orchestra.
God is the maestro. He is up there orchestrating this enormous plan that spans the beginning of time, from Adam and Eve until He wraps this earth up as a scroll…and He wanted YOU in it. He wanted you to read this, so He can tell you He loves you, and to keep seeking Him. The fact He cares so much about a bazillion human peons, is just a fantastic thing to me. We are alarmingly similar to a bazillion Minions in our attempts to succeed on our own. Think about it. Are we not? We bounce from one thing to the next trying to please Him and we mess up so disastrously and yet He cares enough to redirect us, give us another shot, provide for our needs and love us in spite of our ignorance.
I’m totally not comparing Gru to God. I just don’t want anyone to make that jump. I’m not going that far. I just find some real humor in how easily distracted we are as humans, how haphazard, how accident prone and ignorant we are at times. At the same time, I am floored at how awesome it is, when we can see even a tiny glimpse of God’s enormous plan, not only for our lives, but for how our lives affect the lives of others and how the lives of others affect our lives.
I’ve been astonished when I’ve looked back on my life, and how I’ve seen that even where I’ve massively messed up, God has led me back to where He wanted me. He even turned my messes into a learning experience or a reminder to me of where I don’t want to go again.
I believe that God is good. I believe that He loves us. He isn’t hoping we fail. He doesn’t want to outsmart or confuse or trick or punish us. He has promised us that all things work together for good if we love Him. If we are asking for His directions in our life, He isn’t going to refuse to share the map. He wants us to make it to Him. He wants to spend eternity with us. He loves us so much!
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
That means He is feverishly up there trying to turn even our failures into something that ends beautifully. He is the composer and the maestro. He is placing us according to our strengths and weaknesses. He is getting our attention when our notes are off. He is waving a stick at us if we aren’t quite doing things right. The Maestro doesn’t want you to fall flat spiritually. When we are doing well and going strong, He is saying yes! More of that! He is happy and proud when we are practicing and playing well, and He wants the end result to be glorious. He is in this with us. He will guide, He will direct, He will correct, and He will reassure when the time is right. He will give you exactly what you need at the moment it’s necessary.
There is no one rooting for your spiritual success more than He is. If you seek Him with your whole heart, you will find Him. It’s a promise.
Jeremiah 29: 11-13
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.