How Great is Our God

13 Jan

The song “How Great is Our God” is sung in churches across America. However, I didn’t expect to be singing it this Sunday in Williamsburg, Virginia sitting next to my aunt, uncle and 89 year old Grandma. As I looked around, everything about the church was different from my home church in California except for one thing – the feeling I get when singing the song. My skin started to tingle letting me know God had entered the room. I started to cry. I looked at my aunt embarrassed. “I always cry in church,” I apologized. “Honey, it’s okay. You’re finally realizing that everything is alright when you walk with the Lord.” 

I was once very close to my family but as my parents’ addictions escalated, their problems (and my ensuing sorrow) put a wedge between us (to no fault of one’s own). Perhaps discomfort, helplessness and geography crept in on their end; and self-isolation settled in on mine because where does one fit into a happy family when your link to the membership is self-destructing? It almost hurt to be around the love – a reminder of all that I was losing. 

In the end, my parents did self-destruct. After my mom’s death this summer, my other aunt sent me a card with an elephant on it. “When an elephant dies or is hurt, the others in the herd come forward to help.” I thought about this as I looked at the photos of elephants in my grandma’s home that she took while on a Safari to Africa. And at the odd synchronicity that occurs when God puts his healing Hand on things. After twenty years of nightmares, the drama is over. My parents are now with God. 

Today my Grandma and I walked through Colonial Williamsburg and sat in the courthouse talking to a docent. It turns out that in those days if you missed church for a month, you had to go to court and pay five shillings. Then we stepped into the church where Thomas Jefferson and George Washington attended. It was a different but exciting time to worship!

In contrast, on Sunday, we took three different cars to church. Granny went early so she could fulfill her duty as greeter, my uncle took his so he could stay late afterwards and my aunt and I drove together so we could sleep in. I didn’t belong to a church in this way when I was a kid but now I do. I find it oddly reassuring that my relatives and I spend our Sundays the same way now. I also wonder what my life would have been like when I was younger if I had had a church community. Would it have been different? Would life have been easier? The course more smooth? I don’t know.

I do know I couldn’t save my parents and maybe my loss helped me to Gain. All that matters is that I am here now. As my aunt said, “Everything is okay when you walk with the Lord.” Amen.

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