Monday, April 23, 2012

Living Proof LIVE KC

When the worship music started - live and loud, led by Travis Cottrell - I was a bit stunned. The band was fantastic, with acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums, two keyboards and five vocalists. They were singing Christian rock music, a genre of which I am mostly ignorant.

I was raised with traditional (old) hymns, and loved them; I have not heard a lot of Christian rock that I enjoy. There are a few songs ("Blessed Be Your Name" "Beautiful One") that have moved me deeply, but some of them are just a bit emotional for my comfort zone. I'm a Northerner - a Yankee - and I didn't realize how much of a Yankee I was until I began to feel as if I had stepped inside of an old-time tent revival meeting. There were huge video screens displaying words to the songs, and images from the life of Jesus. The power of the music, lyrics and visuals was nearly overwhelming.

I was quickly moved to tears. A huge wave of grief came over me, broke me open, and I was missing Katie openly and powerfully. In Kansas City with my closest girlfriend, at a worship service with 9,800 other women, I found myself longing for my girl so much that I could not control my tears. What was going on?

I suspect that God was accepting my invitation to Him to "have at me." The music, in a form with which I am not entirely comfortable, broke open my "hard candy shell" (Maribeth's term), and I had no choice but to surrender to it.
"Divine love is received by surrender instead of performance or perfection...If you keep listening to the love, if you keep receiving the love, trusting the love—even with all your limitations, with all your unworthiness, with all your limited intellect or whatever you feel holds you back—you start to experience within yourself a sense of possibility.
" the "image and likeness of God" that you already are. We each are unlike any other image or likeness. God is saying to each of us, “All I want is for you to return to the Sender who you really are!” Ironically, it takes most of our life to find it and to accept it...As Mother Teresa loved to say, 'The only real success is faithfulness.' " - Richard Rohr, adapted from Following the Mystics through the Narrow Gate ...Seeing God in All Things
It was if I was being assaulted by a very bright light...blinking hard, a little bit stunned, pulling away and then giving in. It was undeniably a physical, emotional and spiritual experience, all at the same time. My "Yankee" head was trying to keep my heart at an intellectual distance from the overwhelming emotions of the unfamiliar style of worship: back and forth, pulling away and giving in.

When the music stopped and Beth opened the session, she issued a deep welcome to all of us. She prayed for all of us attending, she read excerpts from letters from some of those in the audience; she welcomed a group who had announced themselves as "God-haters," who were seated somewhere in the auditorium, and spoke lovingly to them. Beth assured them that God does not hate them. She pointed out that there were women from 26 states and a multitude of denominations (all Christian,  but quite varied) in the crowd.

Beth got on her knees and we all prayed together. Then, she began to teach out of the book of 1st Thessalonians, focusing on the concepts of "we, you and they" as Paul was using them, writing about himself/Silas/Timothy, the believers at Thessalonika and the world around them. It was illuminating. She asked a large church - Maribeth's church, one of the sponsors of the event - to select three people to represent the "we, you and they" for the next morning's session.

We returned to the hotel, talked about what we had learned, and why I was stricken so strongly with grief in that place. I realized that, though I am thankful to God for all that He has done for us, and thankful for all of His gifts, when I worship in a group (especially through music), I miss Katie more than ever. I miss our church life; I miss the community, and worshiping with my family; I miss our old life, and that includes being with my daughter, son and husband in church.

The emotions that praise music evoked brought out a huge conflict that has been hidden deep within my heart:  though I am glad that Katie is safe with God, I am terribly unhappy that she is not still here with us. In that auditorium, led by Beth Moore, and surrounded by women in fellowship, I found that I am not totally trusting God. I am not sure why this is, but suspect that it is because He has Katie, and I have not stopped wanting her back. I am in conflict. I still love Him, honor Him, am grateful to Him daily - but I am deeply hurt, to the point of tears, when I try to sing His praise - that her life was not spared. I miss the community that church represents, but I do not want to go back without my whole family. In that huge auditorium, standing next to my dear friend, I became aware of a tug of war inside of me. By the time the evening session was over, I was wiped out emotionally, and challenged spiritually.
And then Maribeth received the call, asking her to go up on stage in the morning as one of three women (out of 9,800) to represent the "you" in Paul's letter to the Thessalonians.


Elizabeth said...

These posts have been so inspiring and interesting, Karen. There is much to think about here, and I will do so. I am, above all, glad for you. Very glad --

Kay said...

So interesting. There are certain songs I just can't. handle. They are my undoing. I can't imagine being in such an environment that is so new to you and coming undone like that. But you know...coming undone is a good thing. He wants us to come to the end of ourselves so He can live Himself out in us. So all of the conflict is ok within you, since it brings you to Him. Excited to hear more of the story.

Karen said...

Totally agree with Kay's words. He is so big, and when we enter His presence in a big way, it overwhelms our hearts. It brings out the secrets hidden within, tucked away so they won't hurt. It allows us to give them back to Him. The missing and persevering is with us forever in this life, I believe. It will lead us home.

That type of worship music is that with which I am most familiar, and I love it completely. It is the highlight of my Sunday mornings, and anytime I can catch a Christian concert, I come away renewed. So glad you got that time.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I attended a Women Of Faith weekend years ago, and I cried the entire weekend. I was moved by all the stories shared, the songs sung, and just being with all those wonderful people.

HWHL said...

It's a beautiful thing, isn't it...? When God beckons us to him and his beautiful Spirit descends so completely over us... like a tidal wave of Profound and Intimate LOVE for the soul... words don't describe it.
And we realize how our reasoning and intellect pale in comparison to the Great I Am.