I discovered Andrew Peterson years ago when I was a junior in high school. I heard the lyrics of "Just As I Am" read during a message on a podcast that I listened to and those words struck every bell in my soul, striking and resounding with words that rang true. If you were to read my blog from high school you would find Andrew's lyrics peppered throughout (along with various C.S. Lewis quotes and long tangents: I haven't changed much).
No More Faith, Love is a Good Thing, More, Lay Me Down, All Things New, and The Good Confession have been the soundtrack of my life. When hard times come, when waves crash around me and the wind howls like an animal--these are some of the songs where I find refuge. When I am to tired, scared, worn out, and lonely to even read, I have learned to find a quiet place and let a song strike the chords of my heart again and again reminding me of what I know to be true but so often lose sight of in this foggy reality we live in: there is more.
When I have made a mistake for the hundredth time The Good Confession is what played and gave me hope that I am loved inspite of myself. Oh, though I kick and scream, oh love, love is leading me.
Then there was the night that I saw the jaws of death snap shut and I stared the curse full in the face. I saw life slip between the fingers of all that tried so hard to save it. Ever fiber of my being rebelled against the ugliness of what I had seen and I wept. I walked out of the hospital clutching my notebook to my chest and I drove under a bright dusty moon. Head pounding, heart raw and aching, soul weary. I found myself passing the road that lead home and winding down a road that led somewhere, anywhere that I could pray, think, and process.
When I say pray I mean whispered sentences that are strung haphazardly together, begging for grace and help. Processing everything while pounding on the chest of my Father begging for clarity and words, for platitudes would not suffice and cliches could not shoulder the burden. So I drove on, past sleeping cattle and a doe that peered wide-eyed at me out from between the pines as I glided past.
I longed, longed to go Home. To see past the curtain and shed completely the scales that cover my eyes.
And the words from More and Lay Me Down swirled in the air around me. I passed cemeteries where the dead lay silent, with only a few hammered words in stone to sum up their life. They know of the glory that I long for, whether they flee it or seek it - they know it. I pulled into an empty church parking lot, clambered onto the hood of my car, and looked out over a mist that spun across the tombstones.
This is where we will all end up. Lying quietly inside a hole in the ground or a small pile of dusty ashes-regardless of your story and where it leads during life, whether the character you played was rich or poor, kind or cold, humble or prideful - there will be a page in your story that when turned to, will hold these words, "...from dust to dust," and whether it comes swiftly or slowly, the end is coming for us all. And in that moment I was so ready for it, ready for glory. Ready for no more tears, ready to see the whole picture and laugh at the brilliant Story that was woven here on earth. ...but hold on, it's worth it.
And I realize in that moment that I am loved enough to hurt. I am loved enough that suffering and trials are allowed to enter into my story to refine and purify me, to shape me into something better. Joy is sweeter after tasting salty sorrow.
This a beautiful world full of sunrises and sunsets, bright days and dark nights. Some fathers never make it home, babies are buried, tragedy enters the scene, hearts are shattered, and we scream as pain carves deep scars into our souls.
I am alive. My heart hammers, my lungs inflate, I breath, and I live. While this means I will get to see life, it also means I will see death. I will see the curse played out over and over, again and again. And when this happens, I will run, fast and furiously back to the things I know to be true. I will go back to the old roads and I will lash my heart to the ancient mast. I will hold on and I will not give up.
I will live, running and striving to pour out as much of my little life as I can. I will not hoard up myself. I will give and smile and laugh. I will hold onto hope and even with hands full of grief I will hold onto the knowledge that this is not the end of the story. I will run this race before me with vigor because I know there is a better beginning awaiting me once I cross the finish line. Ugliness and pain and heartache and tragedy and even death itself will not have the final word, and they all will be burned away like the dross that they are. And we will laugh as beauty colors the sky with a flourish.
Good is coming.
I am not home yet.