I have made every effort to write without cliches or catch phrases. I know I haven’t ironed them all out, please forgive me, and please read until the end.
We started the morning with Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill’s rendition of “How Great Thou Art.” I’ve listened to it a dozen times. I had seen the tears in the audience, it’s easy to cry listening to the songs that remind you of Grandma’s old radio or sweet old time religion. What came this time was the peace I saw in the faces of the celebrities. It transcends the music hall, the awards, even Carrie’s magnificent voice. It changed their hearts. Music can do that. God does that.
There was a time I was struggling greatly with my faith I came across this song, “I’ve Got Friends that Do.”
And I may not know what its like
To send my only son to save the world and watch him die
And I may not know how it feels
To hang there on the cross to prove that love is real
But I’ve got friends that do.
I don’t know why or how those words were so enlightening to me, but it genuinely convicted me that God doesn’t owe me or anybody else anything. God sent His only son for us. He watched Him die, for us. I will never know the cost, but I do know that what He has done is all I ever need him to do to worship and even love Him. Jesus said, “it is finished”. While God does bless me, give me good things and make me very happy sometimes, he’s not required to do so. My heart for Him is only a response to His love for me. When I felt totally unloved and unhappy, he has already concocted a plan in heaven to make me very happy. Because I felt that way, didn’t mean it was true – He always loved me. In between now and then things like the joy Small brings me, the security and love B brings me and all of the other things in life that are satisfying and fun are just a drop in the bucket compared with what is there for me there.
I am (making every effort to be) not ashamed of the gospel. I believe in the power of God for salvation, and I believe He uses it. I know that Jesus is real, is God, and is mine forever. The fact, and I believe it to be a fact, that I am on my way to heaven, is exciting. I get to see huge pearls and gold. I get to see angels again. I get to a real home, not one that will be taken away from me. I don’t think I’ll have to clean it, either. I really believe this is the point of Jesus’ words and the good news described in the Bible.
I don’t know where the peace in those country singer’s faces came from, other than being a gift from God. I have that peace, sometimes, and I wish I had it all the time. It’s a Fruit of the Spirit, which means it’s an extra special gift that God gives to His children. According to Bible-knowledge.com, without peace, we can easily become “rattled, shaken, tormented” and “and knocked right off of your game in the Lord the first time any type of adversity should ever come your way.” Who hasn’t been like that before? Who wants that?
I think God has given me extra special gifts. I’m not in the middle of a bipolar episode and I still believe that is true. If I am elevated, I try to ignore any personal “messages” from God. I’ve said it before that I want to worship a real God, not one borne of mental illness. I’ve was in a hospital with a schizophrenic woman who talked the whole time about the Roman Catholic Church, Jehovah Witnesses and some other sect of the modern world. Since I was pretty amped so I laughed and even though I made every attempt not to laugh at the poor, tormented soul. I didn’t have success – I just couldn’t stop laughing, but it served as a message to me that I did not want to crazily create an object of worship: I wanted something hard. The image that comes to me is a sturdy Craftsman chair, made of strong wood and constructed by a skilled artisan. I don’t know if that is because Jesus was a carpenter, or what. I read once that the plows He made were used up to the third century. I think his word and work in the Bible proves that is true of Jesus. Jesus is supernatural though, so things sometimes don’t seem solidly grounding. There is more to Jesus than a carpenter’s chair.
I most frequently hear from God through the Bible. It is that carpenter’s chair. Yes, there are different versions and what I believe to be the occasionally translation error, but I feel there is no evidence that is strong enough for me to believe it to be anything but factual. Still, things happen to me, I see prayers answered, I hear God’s voice, I’ve seen angels. (If you feel like proving me wrong, go ahead and pm me with it. I don’t want to mess with healing people getting upset if you leave guest book messages.)
One last story. This is one of the most exciting things that ever happened to me. I lived in a big, old fraternity in college. It was a mansion at one point, Spanish style with a once stately great room. I don’t think anything about the house was stately while I lived in it. There was an old Steinway piano, and I was going through an extremely difficult time. I had, what I understand now to be, a major depressive episode. I was failing out of school, so I just dropped out for the semester. I didn’t do a whole lot: I went to Bible Study, I ate and ate, slept for hours and hours and I played that piano. Steinway pianos have heavy keys, so I had to pound to make any music out of it. The piano was out of tune, which made it sound more like what was going on with me. That piano probably kept me alive.
I hadn’t really played piano for years, but I played pretty much when I wasn’t sleeping or eating. I played show tunes, Disney songs and worship songs. I played for church and for Bible study. It was the only productive thing I did then, but I have nothing to show for it but that night with the angels.
It was Saturday. I was alone in the house, which is an impressive thing when the house has twenty-three residents. I went to the piano and felt like I really could freely play and even sing as loudly and fully as possible. I had a book of worship songs and I played from the beginning to the end. While I was playing, I swear to you, the room filled with angels. The were swirling and swooping around the room. There were dozens of them. They gushed peace and joy and I received it, completely amazed. The angels were silent, but in joined my worship as a created being. I was refreshed. I was surrounded by so much beauty. I wasn’t exhausted like I’d expect to be after encountering supernatural creations. I wasn’t scared like people are in the Bible, because I knew from reading about angel visitations they probably aren’t bringing messengers of death. I was able to laugh and play with flourishes and took chances with my voice. Bliss, joy, peace were their gifts. The angels left without taking away any of the blessings they brought with them I don’t know where they went next.