When God Showed up at Church

this story of how God showed up at church is really inspiring

i.

I don’t like to be late. I can’t promise to arrive early, but the Type-A side of me and the piece that still wants to please people is highly uncomfortable with being late.

ii.

Two Sundays ago, I ran around the apartment, threw my shoes on, and rushed out the door. I pulled in, found an open space, and congratulated myself on making it right on time. As I walked through the doorway, the music in the sanctuary began to play. Perfect, I thought, that means I have just enough time to find an open seat.

The past six days were full of ordinary moments. Hard days, long nights, early mornings, and an ever-growing to-do list. I was lonely. I was confused. I was frustrated. I knew that beyond the fog there had to be beauty, but I was straining to see it.

Three feet through the door, I looked up as I heard, “Hey… are you Kaitlyn?”

iii.

this story of how God showed up at church is really inspiring

Ten minutes passed on the outside of the wooden doors. I could hear a guitar strumming and voices mingling as everyone said their hellos and found a seat. My feet were planted in a conversation with a stranger-turned-new-friend, but my heart was bursting to get through those doors. Caught in between, I knew the right thing was to give myself fully to the conversation until it ran its course.

The chatter behind the closed doors ended and a worship melody began. The conversation was a blessing in a round-about way, but when I opened the doors and scrambled to find an empty seat near the back, I finally felt myself exhale.

God, I know You’re here in this building amongst these people and in this city. I know You’ve called me to this place for this season, but I really need to hear from You today. Holy Spirit, You are already here. I’m listening. I’m here, too.

The first few chords to the next song began and I think I heard God laugh.

You need to hear from Me? Alright. Here I am. Let’s talk.

iv.

Lord I need You, oh I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

I’m back in Haiti, singing this song under a metal roof as clouds gather and thunder rolls in the distance. The first song He gave me during my first trip to Haiti is the first song I hear on Sunday morning and it’s as clear as day shining through the dark: He is there.

Haiti sunrise

I laughed with God and chuckled to myself, under my breath of course, silently thinking, You were with me in Haiti and I know You’re with me now, but regular life still feels so extremely ordinary, God. I hope it’s okay to say that, but I suppose You already know my thoughts and my heart. You’ve always been there, God. In Haiti and Israel, too, but what about my 9-5 Monday through Friday life? I’m struggling here. I’m doggy-paddling and I’m getting so tired.

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

The song ended and the message began.

Psalm 40. The main point: God is faithful.

v.

We can’t fight our way out of the pit, beg our way out of the mud, or save ourselves in the storm. But halfway down my page of notes, there are these six words:

When all else fails, God prevails.

When all else fails, God prevails.

It was mid-morning on a Sunday. I sat there fully present but with the near constant reminder that I would celebrate the six-year “anniversary” of my brain surgery just three days later. It’s hard not to think about that sort of thing, especially in the middle of a message about God’s faithfulness.

A few moments later, I wrote down three final things as the message came to a close:

  1. The voice of Jesus will lead us — through the darkest of times — all the way home.
  2. John 10 –> Listen to His voice.
  3. “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” – Betsy ten Boom

And then the music began again.

vi.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus name

My Israel song, the one I’ve heard dozens, perhaps even hundreds of times, began to play and there was nothing in the world that was going to keep me from kneeling at the table to pray and take communion.

Okay, God. Hi, I hear You; I get it. You were there in Haiti and You were with me in Israel, shifting my view of Jesus. You’re here in Birmingham, right now, with me. And even when life feels completely plain vanilla and ordinary, it’s still beautiful because You’re writing the story. These pages aren’t a waste. They aren’t a mistake. There is purpose here, too. It’s like the song we sang the Sunday after I returned from my first trip to Haiti — I know You are God and I will shout it from the mountains.

When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

They sang the final chord and without any hesitation, began the next song. And yeah, I just flopped into my seat because what else was I to do when I heard:

Shout it, go on and scream it from the mountains. Go on and tell it to the masses: that He is God.

The view of the Sea of Galilee from Mt. Arbel. Picture taken by Kaitlyn Bouchillon.

The view of the Sea of Galilee from Mt. Arbel.

vii.

They are sloppy and poorly written, but scribbled in a little lined notebook are the only words I could get out as the notes continued to play:

The first song we sang in church today was ‘Lord, I Need You.’ I thought of Haiti and laughed to myself and thought, what if we sing ‘Christ Alone, Cornerstone’, too?” It would combine Haiti, Israel, and Birmingham on the Sunday before 6 years. After the message and during communion, that song began. I laughed, cried, and thought of another Haiti song — the one we sang when we returned. “Shout it, go on and scream it from the mountains.” They sang that song next. Now they’re singing ‘In Christ Alone/The Solid Rock.’ He is so kind, so sweet. Present and good, loving and generous. He is with me and for me and reminding me of #beautifulordinarynow. If it weren’t for His healing, I never would have been to Haiti, Israel, or Birmingham.

I don’t know why or how He works the way He does. All I know is that He continues to give me songs and on Sunday He gave three of them back to me again, right when my heart needed them the most. I was running behind, my head was clouded, and my heart was heavy. In a place that feels like home, I wound up sitting alone. But as soon as I walked through the doors, He met me there.

this story of how God showed up at church is really inspiring

viii.

As I searched through old posts to find the one about my first Haiti song, I stumbled upon the final sentences in my first real post about the country I love so dearly. There’s no use pretending otherwise: I could feel my throat tighten and tears sting my eyes. Because “there is hope in the tension.”

Is He not the very funniest of all, leading me to write a sentence in the summer of 2014 about living, loving, and learning… and then calling me in the summer of 2015 to write a book about living, loving, and learning in the in between… only to remind me in the summer of 2016 that He has been on every page. This might not be a page that anyone wants to write home about or a line in the story that changes everything, but even when it’s lonely or confusing or frustrating, it is good.

He is good and the story is good, no matter what.

From that first real Haiti post:

“He is before all things and in Him all things hold together. We don’t have to whisper the truth, we can sing it from the mountains. And my Birmingham, Gospel-broken heart, hears the song from service:

Shout it, go on and scream it from the mountains. Go on and tell it to the masses: that He is God.

Worlds combine on a bench with three slats under a metal roof in Haiti and in a green car driving along Lakeshore and there is hope in the tension. We went to listen, to learn and love by living the Gospel, but maybe it’s the Gospel come to us.”

 

Additional posts…

#beautifulordinarynow

Do you ever feel like your regular life is just completely, 100% ordinary and yet it’s absolutely the place God has called you to? Or is that just me… I’ve been to Haiti (three times) and recently spent two weeks exploring Israel which basically...

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Let Go. Let God.

Last week I sat down to wade through the drafted posts here, the words that never turned into sentences and the sentences that never saw the light of day. I came across this draft from summer of 2013. Somehow my post-grad self needed to read these words and I wonder...

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Isaiah 42:16 (a free print for you because I like you)

Sara asked me to read Isaiah 41:10 at bible study on Monday. The words are beautiful no matter which translation you pick, but I was reading from the NIV translation. Then I looked up the same verse in The Message translation and my stomach did flip-flops. When she...

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How My View of Jesus Changed in Israel

It happened while driving in the car and again walking on a dirt road, my long maxi skirt swishing around my ankles. It happened again in Israel. I’ve been to Haiti three times. And each time, God gave me a song. It doesn’t matter where I am or what...

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