Years ago, I heard it said that “Christians do not tell lies, they sing them.” In that moment it didn’t make a whole lot of sense and I didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until I was in church that next Sunday and I stood for worship and began to sing along as I normally do. I didn’t give much thought as to what I was singing because I knew the words to the songs in and out. No need to look at the lyrics being projected on the wall, I knew every word. As I continued to sing, I began to process what words were actually coming out of my mouth. And beyond that…. I wondered if I actually believed what I was singing. Did I believe that grace is amazing? Or that the more I seek You – the more I find You. Do I lay my crowns at the feet of Jesus? It is so easy to speak, but do my actions align with the words I sing, that I hardly give a second thought to?
Last night as I gathered with the summer class of Mission of Hope interns for a night of worship, this realization of ‘what am I singing?’ hit me again. Most are going to be familiar with the song, Blessed Be The Name of the Lord. It has been sung for years. I have sung it for years… But last night a phrase jumped out at me and caused me to stop singing. These were the words: “Blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be your name. Blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be your glorious name. You give and take away. You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, blessed be your name.” I had to sit in silence.
Let me explain a little more why these words struck me with such conviction. Yesterday afternoon I went to find a Haitian family who I have not seen in a very long time. They had moved to a different village and I wasn’t sure where to find them anymore. So with a team of Haitian friends, we set out to find this family that I love so dearly. One of the reasons I was so eager to find them was that the mom was pregnant with their 5th child. And to add more excitement to the scenario – back in the states, my brother and sister-in-law are also pregnant. The miracle of life seemed to be all around me. While we were in the car, searching for the family – I was receiving messages from home the contractions had started. My niece was coming! Surprisingly, it didn’t take long for us to find the Haitian family in their new home. I eagerly greeted them! You could see the shock on their face as I came walking through their gate! I had no way of telling them I was coming – their surprised faces were priceless. I quickly scooped up the youngest boy and hugged him as tight as I could. Such joy filled my heart as I was reunited with this family. As I looked at the mom I could tell that she was excited to see me, but I could also see a deep sadness in her eyes. As she began to speak, I knew what was coming. The baby had not lived. Sadness gripped my heart in an instant. Fighting back tears was impossible.
So going back now to the worship night – fully knowing that one baby has died and one baby is on the way, my heart wrenched as I sang the words ‘you give and take away.’ But beyond those words… the ones that caused me to stop and be absolutely sure before I sang them again were, ‘my heart will choose to say.’ My heart will choose. A choice. The decision is mine. Not one of force. So as I sat thinking of such sorrow in one hand and such joy in the other, I could not help but think of Jesus. I could not help but think of grace and how amazing it really is. I could not help but think of the choice He made on my behalf and once again fighting back tears was impossible.
Today, joy fills my heart yet again as Evelyn Hope Billingslea has entered the world. Evelyn Hope. Her name literally means bearer of life and hope. I am more thankful for her than she will probably ever know. She is tangible evidence of God’s grace and love for us. I am excited to be back in the states in 10 days and be able to hold her. There is no way to explain how thankful I am for the miracle of life. And even more thankful for the breath in my lungs to be able to sing of the Lords goodness day after day after day.