This morning I was reminded of something.
Let me back up.
This morning wasn’t my best morning. I am fully aware that what I describe as “wasn’t my best morning” describes a quality of life most others only dream of, but nevertheless, it wasn’t my best morning.
I came to church feeling, if you’ll pardon the cliché, broken.
Some of it was physical. My left shoulder ached from a recent injury that has rendered me unable to swim or lift weights. My left knee ached from an older injury that has rendered me unable to run or bike. I was on the heels of a fitful night’s sleep- one that included plenty of tossing and turning, a 2:00 a.m. wake up by a toddler who had clearly had a bad dream, and a 5:00 a.m. wake up to text a friend to tell him I wouldn’t be able to make it to watch the beginning of his triathlon that morning as I’d promised, but that’d I’d be there to watch him run and watch him finish. And I just didn’t feel right. You know the feeling- achy, somewhat upset stomach, a little nauseous. It’s a feeling that causes some alarm bells to go off when several people you know have been pounded by the flu lately. I wondered if it was coming for me.
And as I stood there we sang these words:
You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of dust.
Words that- as I discovered this morning- are more poignant when you feel like dust.
Some of it was emotional. I know my troubles pale in comparison to the troubles of others, but at times they wear me out nonetheless. The reason I had to cancel heading to the starting line of the race this morning was that I couldn’t leave my wife alone with our toddler. She’d hurt her back the previous afternoon, and even in the evening she was in tremendous pain. The sort of pain that makes it impossible to care for a toddler, or even remove him from his crib. The toddler in question is having his share of issues as well, dealing with some itchiness that we suspect is a reaction to a medicine he’s taking. It’s tough seeing the people you love the most hurt like that.
Then there was me, and what my injuries represented. They were a reminder of what I wasn’t doing that morning. I wasn’t participating in the race. In fact, my dreams of doing a half Ironman alongside my friend were derailed before they could even leave the station. This nagging knee injury has lingered without a clear diagnosis for nearly six months. I was never even healthy enough to train. I was so happy for my friend, and I wanted so badly to be out there. And then there was the tension of where I am career-wise. At once incredibly grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given at SUCH an amazing church, but also disappointed that I’m not doing more to support our family financially. I was also thinking about the message I was to preach that afternoon. It was done, but it just hadn’t seemed to come together like I’d hoped.
All of these things- and a few more- combined to create an uncharacteristic weightiness in my usually jovial soul. Because this weightiness was so uncharacteristic, it added to the tension. ‘What’s the matter with you? Quit whining, sheesh,’ I thought to myself.
And the music kept playing, and we sang songs with words like these:
You’ve never failed, and you won’t start now.
I may be weak, but Your Spirit’s strong in me. My flesh may fail, my God you never will.
I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine
Give me faith, to trust what you say, that You’re good, and Your love is great
Words that are more poignant when they are fervent prayers from a person all too aware of his brokenness.
And then our worship leader read these words from Scripture:
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)
Words that are more beautiful when you need to know how true they are.
Even as I write this what I’ve written seems a little silly. I have a remarkably charmed life, one that brings me near constant joy. To be loved by God, my family, and friends, and to have the opportunities to do the things I do on a daily basis is evidence of unfathomable grace in my life. How dare I ever complain about a thing?
But the truth is, the dark days come. For pretty much everyone. They’re rarely rational.
And I was reminded this morning that sometimes we need the dark days to be reminded that God is enough.
I am weak.
My flesh and my heart may fail.
I may be dust.
But His Spirit is strong in me, and you.
He is the strength of my heart, and yours.
And He does make beautiful things.