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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- The voice of Jesus will lead us — through the darkest of times — all the way home.
- John 10 –> Listen to His voice.
- “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” – Betsy ten Boom
And then the music began again.
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.
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.
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.”
Wow, this is amazing. Beautiful story! Thanks so much for sharing this!
I have had the same thing happen in conversation and feeling anxious but trying to be compassionate all at the same time. I think we think God is concerned about some things that maybe He just isn’t. He just wants us, and sometimes we tend to not let ourselves receive the grace we really need. Not saying being on time isn’t good or a goal to shoot for, but for those of us with type-A personalities it can feel like we get wound up too tight. So I get ya there!
Lord, I Need You has a special place in my heart. It was the first song I sang at church when I first stepped out of my comfort zone. It became a favorite and people often requested me to sing it. It was humbling and just the simplicity of it is what really touches me. Months went by without singing it, my uncle passed away far too young. My aunt asked if I could sing it at his funeral. God touched lives that day. His funeral turned into a church service and people cried out to God ho has hidden from him for years. People gave testimonies. It was awesome. I love how God speaks to each of us uniquely, and in the way we hear best usually. I love your photos, your words and your heart here, Kaitlyn. Prayers & blessings!
Your friend @ #CoffeeForYourHeart
This is a beautiful testimony: “His funeral turned into a church service.”
I love this! God has spoken to me before through songs that I know were direct messages of love to me. I just loved reading how you heard those same songs, reassuring you of your purpose even in the ordinary.
What a wonderful testimony of God’s faithfulness in your life! God is faithful and He speaks to us through his word and in the community of believers. So glad I came across your blog this morning. Have a blessed day!
I’m so glad you came across the blog too!
I would think there’d be 53 comments! Because this was so profoundly excellent. Isn’t it just like our loving God, our good, good Father to show up and show off. JUST FOR YOU. He loves you Kaitlyn, He has good plans for you. He has an eternity filled with HOPE for you. And, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it every day until HE GETS ME HOME: #hopechangeseverything xoxo
You are so sweet! (And yay for finding the lost comment!)
Yes. God prevails. God heals. God cares. We are so blessed to live with him. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post. Abundant blessings to you!
He’s a God who’s in the tiniest of details, isn’t He? Your special songs are some of my favorites. Worship time on a Sunday is a kind of “coming home” for me…I always find God speaking to me through the songs chosen…and like you, I find myself amazed and touched by how He speaks to little old me!
I love that Scripture “He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.” It was one God spoke to me through my journey of PTSD and I still believe He allowed that experience to bless me, by strengthening my trust in Him.
I was reading several verses this morning about God encouraging us to declare His praises: and the more “hard” we go through, the more opportunity we have to do so…and the more we are refined ourselves in the process. And sometimes that hard is the mundane, isn’t it?!
Beautiful encouragement, Kaitlyn. And always love hearing of your healing: what a powerful God we serve.
Absolutely. It’s amazingly personal. And that is one of my favorite verses! I read it every day in Haiti.