I was running (try to say that without a Forrest Gump accent...now go back...read it again...see you can't!). Anyway, please keep reading...I promise to stay on track :) So I was running this morning, and one of my favorite parts of this discipline is the constant stream of worship music straight to my heart. I love worship music. As believers, our hearts are made for worship music. In fact, an entire book of the Bible is purely songs: The book of Psalms contain 150 songs (some songs ABOUT singing songs), and there are many other songs throughout the Bible as well. It's because when our hearts are captured by God, He quite literally puts a new song in our mouth. He brings praise to our lips and brings us joy and Him glory when we lift our voices in song to our Creator.
I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever;
with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
(Psalm 95:1 )
So all this to say: worship music is an essential part of my walk with Christ - it is something that reminds me of who God is, what He has done and brings my heart to thankfulness and praise through listening and (sorry for those in earshot) singing!
Moving right along...so "The Blessing" is on my shuffle and starts playing. If you haven't heard it, you should listen! It's truly amazing; straight from scripture and beautiful. The artists actually wrote this and performed it for the first time right before the pandemic hit and the world shut down. It spread like wildfire and became such an anchor for hearts during this time. God is so faithful to give us reminders of who He is when we need them the most.
When this went viral, different countries/regions started to put together these videos (brady bunch-style with multiple windows taking up the screen) where they would cut to different church worship leaders/teams in different areas then display them all together throughout the song. (Watch one here). A friend sent us that one I linked to during a time where the world was feeling (and we personally certainly didn't escape it) extremely isolated, separated, stripped down. When I watched it, I literally fell to my knees with tears. I saw the Church. Not like I saw the building of a church or I saw people from our local church on the screen...I saw the BIG C Church. The body of Christ...across denominations - not separated by the often-times nit picking and personal preferences - not separated even by the physical realities: geographic distance or by the current shut down; they were all together praising our King. They were - in that moment - UNITED with their one love and their greatest hope: Jesus. It was overwhelmingly beautiful. It is what we all have in common as believers, and the one thing that outweighs anything else we may not have in common or see eye to eye on or have preferences for.
The union we have in Christ is immeasurably stronger and binding than any union we have with others who share with us (to name a few):
...a life stage (i.e. moms bonding with moms which can be a strong bond for sure!)
...a political party (while government is God-ordained and important to care about, identifying primarily in this is a dangerous thing; shifting sand in having a sinner living out and carrying out what you put your hope in...it will crumble and leave you standing on nothing or you will compromise spiritually, morally or otherwise to stay aligned in order to find footing)
...a career field (understanding the unique challenges and trials and bonding over those can be very comforting and meaningful)
...a heritage or a race (both of which are part of God's beauty displayed in creation: the way He creates us to look different, sing different music, eat different types of food, enjoy unique traditions - His creativity is on display! And sharing in these can be powerful and very important)
...a trial or hardship or life experience (these grow us, and through God's grace - if we have the indwelling Spirit - shape us into the beautiful image of our Savior. We cannot live in these though...that's no place to stay - we are missing the purpose if these keep us in their quicksand)
One extremely deep and beautiful connection that I witnessed recently was that between veterans. That is certainly unique and a blessing to be able to connect on that experience (and thank you all who served - truly sacrificial and seen and appreciated), but it still pales in comparison to that unity you have with a member of your heavenly family through Jesus. I have experienced this first-hand in meeting a "stranger" and finding out they have a heart for the Lord. The instant connection I feel with that person is otherwise never experienced. In the same vein, the relationships I have with brothers and sisters in Christ are so much deeper and real and vulnerable and edifying than I have ever had. So the instant connection is real, but the long-lasting unity with those we walk with through this life seeking Christ together...irreplaceable.
Jesus surpasses all and anything that might separate us, in both the broken ways we seek unique identity and those things God designed that make us beautifully unique; and I don't want to miss out on first saying that these different gifts, customs, heritages, passions, even brokenness can all be used for His glory and are good things (viewed and treasured rightly)...but feeling connected to others who share in these things (or anything that holds a primary role in your life) are merely a shadow of the unity we have with someone when we are one in Christ.
So to circle back (and complete a thought): This song took off across the globe and in our home - we watched it over and over and over and over. It became my daughter's favorite part of her bedtime routine (she is 5). Watching this video with Dillon night after night. So as of February of this year, Dillon had now seen it close to 500 times and spent some of those bedtime moments now noticing details in the video. There was one frame that had a painting in the background when the guy was singing. God caught Dillon's attention with that frame: "huh, I wonder if that line means anything...I bet he gets asked that question by people who come to his home....huh, I wonder what the journeys in the Bible would look like...now that would be significant meaning and offer up an opportunity to share the truth of Christ"...
Well, and the rest is history: