When I was little I planned to grow up, be on star search with Ed McMann, get married, and have four kids. I think I imagined I’d go through life in a sequined dress and Ed’s voice would narrate things. My kids were named. My husband had a perm. You know, it was a 7 year old’s logic, so don’t know try to understand it. But it was a plan.
God’s plan blew mine out of the water.
In fact, most of God’s greatest gifts to me were not planned.
I didn’t see them coming.
Left field promises.
Life-altering blessings appearing from the corner of my mind’s eye.
And thank God for His plans. His grand ideas, stretching above my understanding like thunderheads in a great sky. My breezy thoughts decimated by the winds of His love.
I’ve never felt ready.
How can you prepare to drink of living water and never thirst again, like opening your heart to Niagra Falls knowing you’ll never be the same?
Can you grasp a heaven-on-earth kind of love?
Do you know what it’s like to open your empty hands and watch them filled with divinity?
No, I’ve never been ready.
But I’ve never looked back either.
Each of my children derailed me in the most magnificent of ways.
I was never, ever prepared.
Who can prepare to have your heart divided and ripped from your chest, given the freedom to live outside of you . . . your entire being still responsible to keep it beating?
I’ve lived and breathed communities . . . and had to leave them.
This heart of mine has also been stretched. There are pieces on the west coast in the lives of my friends and family that I left behind. Pieces of my heart walk on snow-white Florida beaches . . . and there are remnants in the painted Arizona deserts . . . and beyond.
And these feet stand in the upper Mid West, a stone’s throw from Canada, and I wonder if I’ll ever stop shaking my head in awe at what the Lord has done; in the strength He has manifested in this weak arms of mine, the places He has led me with these insufficient legs. Will the gratitude ever fade, rescued time and time again, only to have my feet set down upon a glory so unfathomably grand that it made the journey worthwhile?
A vessel broken, shattered, crumbled . . . only to be filled with drips of gold from heaven’s gates. Wounds bound by the scarred hands of a Master Craftsman, where He still bleeds a love I could never understand, never contain.
I can still hear my mother singing in the kitchen, “He is jealous for me. Loves like a hurricane, I am the tree bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy. . .”
The song became a lullaby to my children. ” . . . when all of the sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory . . .”
It continued on. In every one of mom’s last breaths, as I held her close, memorizing enough of her to last a lifetime. “. . . and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affections are for me . . “
We buried that body I had hugged and loved all my life in the ground and my heart tore. It ripped to shreds. And as it continued to beat, each pulse of my life sang on, “Oh, how He loves us so. Oh how He loves us. How He loves us so.”
A thousand people sang it that day. Our hands outstretched, lifted heavenward, or clutched against our chest to keep it from falling apart . . “We are His portion and we are His prize. Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes . . .”
And my children continued to sing, day after day, “If His grace is an ocean we’re all sinking . . .”
Babies were born and my heart grew, filled. Love continued to take shape and have names, ” . . .And heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss and my heart beats violently inside of my chest . . “
Crowds gathering in living rooms, in churches, in bars, on hilltops . . . eyes pooling with tears as we tried to fathom again and again and again . . .”I don’t have time to maintain these regrets as I think about the way . . .”
Thump. Thump. Thump. The song continued over miles and miles of west coast, Rocky Mountains, northern prairies. My past behind, my future ahead . . .”Oh, how He loves us so. Oh how He loves us. How He loves us so. . .”
The song hangs on my wall. It’s so much more than art. It’s last moments, last breaths, lullabies, friendships, worship nights, a heart growing and hurting and loving more than is possible. It’s God’s love letter . . . written on the palms of His hands, and in the beat of my heart, on every single breath, each gift . . . a life lived, given, day after day of beautiful sweet gifts often too glorious for me to even comprehend. Each wrinkle a treasure, every gray hair carefully concealed, shadows of what love can do.
I met my husband on a snowy day in Northern California. I woke that morning with no notion of what would happen. I was hoping for snow. God gave me the love of my life.
He can do so much more.
Let Him have it all.
Let Him have the good days, the bad days, the best days, the tragic days.
He’ll write a song in your heart, days shaped as notes on a staff, His words breathing a melody of hope and redemption and promise.
Only God can take the worst day and provide a last look, a glimpse, a whisper to last a lifetime. Redemption in a second. Only God can take the best day, the treasure of a first snowfall . . . and unfold a love story.
Oh how He loves us so.
If you’re looking over the edge of that great precipice, your plans behind you, God’s masterpiece thundering over the rocks ahead of you . . . breathe it in. You don’t need to look back. Let the mist and symphony of what is to come ring in your ears, a dream unfolding. Another chapter to the story. A life lived.
Let His love . . . write the plans.