Rain, Grace, Raised, Together

Last weekend, I was at an event called Rock The Universe at a theme park where all the bestselling Christian artists were gathered.  I was with my new church family and at some point I saw my old church family, about ten of them, and they saw me with my new church, over forty of us.  They were wearing red shirts, we were wearing green. 

I had really missed my old church, a lot.  Some of them I hadn’t seen in nearly a year, and we hugged like crazy.

I don’t talk much about what happened at my last church a year ago, because I don’t want the gossip to destroy them.  I haven’t even told the new youth pastor, my former roommate, what went on.  He doesn’t read here and he’ll never know I was quietly forced out against my will as I begged to stay.  I don’t want him or any of them to doubt their leaders or to resent the senior pastor.  I’d rather take the blame and let them think I quit — and I knew some of them still had questions.

But this night at a theme park, with the praise music roaring loudly over us and the rain coming down, we just sang.  My old church and my new church, shoulder to shoulder, arms raised and hands high together — we sang.  None of us cared about what happened before.  And as Chris Tomlin played his latest generic bestseller, the lyrics became real for me.  They took on shape, a weight, a gracious pain.  Romans 8:31 to a melody became our song.

And if our God is for us — then who could ever stop us? And if our God is with us — then what could stand against?

I wept, a lot.  We were all mixed in, red and green shirts with fists up.  It rained enough to cool us.  We were all smiling, not a hint of animosity or awkwardness, and my heart could hardly take the sight.  I felt like maybe this is how it will be in Heaven, when our color and our past and our hurts and scars will be reconciled into one, so that somehow our variety of diversity and even our iniquities would tell a story of unity.  The story of God choosing people such as us, where Heaven didn’t have to wait until we die — but could be real, right now.

I thought, Maybe everything really will be okay.

We laughed.  We clapped. We wept.  We worshiped.

— J