This weekend, our family headed out by my in-laws once again. I have always loved this drive. Multiple expressway interchanges and a slew of curves, followed by the lush trees that spring up near the Fox River just “do” something to transport me.
It was on Sunday, driving to church, where this scenery really started calling out to my soul. As I climbed through the trees from Algonquin into Crystal Lake, I felt like God was romancing me. He knew I needed something more than peace, more than a break. I needed to journey with Him. And so He began it before I could even reach out to Him.
By the time I got to the first of the two church services I would attend, I could feel His presence. As I entered the room for the first service, I realized that even though I had a million things on my mind, and a million prayer requests for others, the thing I really wanted to do was draw near to Him and worship Him. Not just praise. But all-out worship. In a striking move though, after minutes of kneeling, I felt like I was just supposed to sit on the ground. It was an image that reminded me of myself as an seventh grader, sitting with friends, waiting for the bell to ring. I felt Jesus just casually sitting near me, pointing out things for me.
“I love this group so much. Look how they’re doing that! Isn’t that beautiful?”
“This one has a parent that is just all out mean-spirited, but you see how he’s stretching to focus on me?”
I found myself just conversing with Jesus with how thankful I was. How He’s been so faithful to me. How He’s never abandoned me. Never let me go. It was a moment that you have often between girlfriends, but that you rarely tangibly experience between you and your God.
It was wonderful. But it was about to get better. Much better.
I crossed the parking lot to go into the next church. (Yes, there are two churches that are very dear to me and they are less than 50 yards from each other). After finding my sister and brother in law, I settled in to listen to the next band. Now, keep in mind, I was not expecting much. I had two incredibly spiritual encounters with God already. But it’s always like Jesus to give more than expected.
A beautiful, very royal-spirited woman appeared on-screen. She began a poem that can be described as no less than God inspired. She weaved words about God’s character and the truth that struck me so well. I knew that all I wanted to do once again was praise, but felt like my words couldn’t compare to the generosity He had shown me that morning. And yet, knowing my needs, He provided a song about just that, using scripture that I had clung to, as if it were my last hope of staying aboard a ship during a reckless storm, during one of the most depressing, hurtful times in my life. Even though the last thing I wanted to do was to cry in front of my very strong, very controlled brother in-law, I couldn’t stop the tears. I couldn’t stop feeling the love from a creator who knew me, knew my heart, so well. I was left breathless. Speechless. I wanted to sing and my voice just cracked. So, instead, I just said “I love you too” within my heart and relaxed enough to submit more to His touch.
There’s no scripture that can tell you what this moment was like. I can tell you it wasn’t the first time it had happened to me and it won’t be the last, because my God is faithful like that. But I can tell you that there’s something in a moment like that can’t be manufactured. It wasn’t the band. It wasn’t the woman who spoke. It was a lover. THE lover of my soul. And it makes me want to live for Him even more.