I woke up this morning with an old hymn ringing in my head: the Rhea Miller/George Beverly Shea song, I’d rather Have Jesus – specifically the chorus: Than to be the king of a vast domain, And be held in sin's dread sway, I'd rather have Jesus than anything, This world affords today.
I’d rather have Jesus, I thought, Him, Savior, I would, Lord help me remember in the midst of sin’s dread sway. Were you singing over me, Heavenly Father? Why would You sing over me a poor sinner?
In Zephaniah 3:17, God rejoices over us: The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing (NRSV). In Psalm 116:2 He turns His ear to me – Because He has turned His ear to me, I will call out to Him as long as I live, but really all of Psalm 116. One more Psalm tells me that God bends low: Psalm 113:5-6, Who is like Yahweh our God— the One enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?
My troubles are small. I tell people I breathe rarified air. I am a Christian wife mother and Commissioned Lay Pastor, a farmer, writer and occasional gardener and seamstress. Roughly twelve years ago, this current incarnation of me-ness, was interrupted. My mother had a series of small strokes. One morning towards the beginning of her slow death, she came to my old, shabby farm house in her heels, house and jewelry, a runner tracing one shapely calf as she stepped from her gorgeous Mercedes-Benz.
My mother was seldom vulnerable. She had Polio as a child and after five children and growing up the daughter of a Nazarene minister who gave her Christ in her heart, but awkwardness in this world, she had a strong, if lovely, shell. On that crisp morning, autumn full in the air, Momma was struggling. She told me she was glad to find me and asked if I could make her something to eat. I had nothing that would suit, but I set about with what I had. At a cluttered table in a dirty home (two things she couldn’t tolerate) we shared buttered toast with apricot jam, strawberries, and tea with heavy cream.
I was embarrassed for the state of my house, for my failures, for my sins, but she looked at me, her soft worn hand over mine. “This is perfect,” she whispered. “I don’t believe I’ve tasted anything so good.”
The idea that God bends low over our shabby houses, our sin filled worlds, our worn tired shells, filled me when Momma spoke. It wasn’t that she represented God, only that she, my mother who had often bent low over me as a child, bent once again and allowed me to serve her. In her words it was perfect, it was completely sufficient to the task, not too much, nor too little. The sins, the house, the failures were all forgiven, unnoticed, wiped clean in a moment of grace among humans.
Psalm 116:5-9 says:
The Lord is gracious and righteous;
our God is compassionate.
The Lord guards the inexperienced;
I was helpless, and He saved me.
Return to your rest, my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.
For You, Lord, rescued me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling.
I will walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.
Thank You Father.