I came home late last evening, tired from the day. I’d gone to a worship conference designed to refuel and renew the participants.
Yet, I found myself worn out, the lungs of my heart suffocating as they longed for a breath of Asian air.
It’s been almost six months since I’ve returned. Three and a half years in South Korea and last year in China have left the continent of Asia imprinted on deep folds of my heart and soul. The longing to return and my desire to walk the streets as the sole white person jolts my heart at what seems random moments.
Like this past weekend. It was a beautiful time of worship with fellow believers, with other worship team leaders. But as I looked around at the auditorium, the myriad of mostly white faces, the lights decorating the air of the window-less auditorium, the spotless floors and crisp air, the clean bathrooms and the endless photos taken for Instagram, found me feeling like a foreigner amongst my own people.
I am white. I am a member of “white Western Christianity.” Yet I cannot see it the same as I once did. Within the talk of popular songs, how to utilize lighting to enhance the worship experience, my mind flashes back to the apartment rooms where brothers and sisters would meet for fellowship in China. To the church where us foreigners were allowed to lead a service for the community. It was hot in the summer because the air conditioner couldn’t pump out cool air fast enough to wipe away the sweat from our brows. Or I feel my fingers tugging on the blinds so we could see the Sunday afternoon light peek in at my home church in Korea. I even see the small stage and room of my home church in Italy, the first country I lived in, though it was for a mere three months.
After the first session of spotlights on the stage and a speaker (who actually hailed from the country of Ireland), my feet led me down to the basement floor. I peeked inside what appeared to be the choir room, where my eyes beheld a grand piano.
Yes, this is what my soul needs, Father.
For the next hour, I just played. And the tears dripped. Because the pain is fresh, the wound not yet healed. The grief is still being born.
But my Father did not berate me. He didn’t scold. Not even when I came home late that evening and turned on the iPad to re-watch episodes of Downton Abbey.
I heard Him call, “Daughter, come sit. Listen to My Word.”
But Lord, I can’t. When it’s quiet I feel as though I can’t bear all of it.
And so I let the noise of the rich Earl’s family let me escape from the beatings of my own heart.
But you know, in the morning, His song was the same.
“Come, daughter. Sit. Open My book. Let Me speak to you.”
I must admit, I was a bit shocked. I’d ignored Him last night, chosen a tv show over His voice. Why had He not changed His tune?
At church that morning, our pastor taught from Ephesians chapter 1.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.” Ephesians 1:7-8
To illustrate, he called a little girl to the front.
“Do you like whipped cream on your pie?” he asked her.
“Why yes!” she replied, giggling.
He handed her a paper plate, and withdrew a bottle of whipped cream from behind his pulpit.
“How much? Is this enough?” he asked, as he squirted out a quarter-sized amount.
“No!” she said, giggles coloring her voice.
“How about this?” he said, as he squirted some more, about the size of a fist.
“Yes, that’s enough!” she said, her eyebrows lifted high.
“But no, I think you need more…here you go…” he said, as he proceeded to squirt out the rest of the bottle on her plate. “Wait, no, even that’s not enough. Let me get another bottle…”
The congregation chuckled as he withdrew a second bottle from behind his pulpit.
“Here you go…” he said, as he squirted even more, creating a small Mount Everest of white whipped cream upon her plate.
Laughter continued to ripple throughout the small sanctuary as he kept squirting.
Then he spoke to us.
“Do you get the picture?”
Yes, my heart whispered, deep inside my chest.
“God lavishly, richly, abundantly, gives you grace. Even more than you think you need. And it’s out of His wisdom and insight that He does this. He knows what He’s doing when He supplies His grace to you richly, lavishly, in great abundance.”
A tear fell.
He gives more grace — more grace to me — in the middle of this mess I’m in called re-entry and transition. Grace to me when my heart resorts to noise because the quiet feels too vast to feel the cavern of emotions I don’t know how to express. Grace to me when I am a mess.
He doesn’t berate, He doesn’t oppress.
He offers more grace.
And I find my aching soul remembering the words of the hymnist:
Come, thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace
How is the Father tuning your heart to sing His grace? How is He revealing more of His gracious character to you in the middle of re-entry or another transition in your life?
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