In the Gathering

If I counted the number of times I’ve started a post with “The past month has been so overwhelming” I would probably win some kind of world record. My life has genuinely been a whirlwind in its entirety, but the past two years have been more like a tornado ruthlessly bent on leaving chaos in its wake and I’ve not tried to stop it.

This first month of 2015 holds true to form. I have watched sweet friends get married, cried tears of heartbreak with friends who have lost those closest to them to death or divorce, and have sent others off into new seasons of life with tight hugs and knowing looks that it will be some time before we’re close again. It has been a month of change, a month of heartache, and a month of rejoicing.

I wouldn’t change a moment of it, but the exhaustion that has ensued from such an emotional outpouring is no secret. I’ve been at the end of me for the second time in months and I wish it would happen more often if only because I’m forced to trust. When I’ve exhausted my backup plans and my lifelines, I’m forced to lift, to look up, to seek first that which has given this life breath. I’d rather not need to run ragged first to get to the feet of Jesus, but I’m learning.

He says to taste and see that He is gracious. My heart is often filled along with my stomach with a table full of homemade wonders – a feast for a gathering. It’s in those moments when a group of people come together as a family, with a common language and a common heartbeat, that I taste and see. I see God in the corn tortillas and black beans at Madison’s on a Wednesday and in the excited eyes on a Monday when Amy’s made banana pudding. I see Him in the dishes full of pasta and warm garlic rolls and napkins stained with spills on a Sunday. I see God in the heart-filled conversations from couches about discipleship and community and where we’re headed and how we work as The Church. I see Him in the rows upon rows of generations celebrating the freedom from condemnation we have through Christ.

Where two or three are gathered, He is there.

When two pray together for something, He honors it.

I’m learning that there is an insurmountable peace, a divine rest, a deep, deep breath, found in the smallest moments of the Gathering – when we’re quiet and still and our hearts are joined by the Holy Spirit and there’s a knowing that He advocates for each of us. He stands up for us and vouches for us because of the piece of Him that has been placed inside of us to accomplish holiness. It’s in the quiet breath just before a prayer that sweet relief for a weary heart is found. It is in the moment we all pull our chairs up to the table and take one last breath before we taste and see just how sufficient His grace is, no matter our weakness. It is in the gathering that we are able to lay down our burdens and join in the celebration of the redemption. And it’s these moments that teach me to breathe deep the promises written in my heart:

He will not see the righteous forsaken.

He will not allow you to stumble.

He is faithful to complete what He has started.

He removes all fear.

He is our peace.

He is able to do immeasurably more.

He has saved us and called us with a holy calling.

He rejoices over us with singing.

His grace is sufficient.

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