23 August 2008

Memories of Grace

"It was in a room not unlike this one. It was in a pew nearly just like this one. But it was a very different place and a very different me. I was just a little girl."

In silence in worship tonight, I scribbled those notes on the back of an offering envelope so I wouldn't forget the intensity I felt.

As the very same song played tonight, uncontrollable tears welled up in my eyes. I have heard the song countless times since I first walked that aisle to profess my faith in Christ Jesus. But I never realized that song was what was playing until tonight.

The violin sang out,
all to Jesus I surrender
all to him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust him
in his presence daily live.

That second tonight my heart knew it. That second I was 8 years old again, shaking like a leaf as I told my pastor, "I don't even know what to say here." So he led me. And we prayed.

That prayer would be the first of many times I would hear the voice of God calling to my heart in a sanctuary. It would be several years before I would hear that voice telling me it was time to be baptized. And a few more when God told me, "I gave you your gifts, use them for my glory." That night I offered to God publicly whatever it was that would proclaim the work of God in my life.
At the time, I thought it was one gift.
Little did I know the voice wasn't finished with me.

God speaks to me in the sanctuary more than anywhere else.
It is in worship, gazing at the icons and symbols of my faith, in the community of the faithful, that I hear the Divine whisper to me.

It was in a sanctuary that I responded to a call to ordination.
It was in a sanctuary that I was ordained.
It was in a sanctuary that some of my deepest, most heartfelt prayers were answered.
It was in a sanctuary that the tears and the sobs rolled in memory of my grandfather, my beloved shepherd.

It was in a sanctuary that I gave over this job, this place, this move to the will of the one who calls me.
And the next day, Jamie's phone number was on my caller ID.

I knew I was to pursue the job in Paducah that day - long before I met with the committee, long before a phone interview, long before I had seen the town. God had spoken in sanctuary yet again.

The sanctuary is holy ground for me.
Particularly in silence.
I love to enter our sanctuary during the week, when no one is there, and just sit. Just listen. Just absorb the presence of the Holy.
When I can get outside "my job," God speaks to me there.
Sometimes more powerfully than other times, but always when I can quiet my heart and mind, God speaks.

Tonight I heard that voice again.
Tonight the voice whispered of forgiveness.
Tonight the Divine wiped tears of freedom from my cheeks in the strings of a violin.
Tonight I knew grace like I haven't known since that night as a young girl, standing with my pastor and my daddy, confessing my faith.

To what are you calling me, God?
What are you teaching me today?
What will this memory reveal in hindsight?
I look forward to the day when tonight is another memory of your grace alive and at work on my heart.


Joan Davis said...

Beautifully written Erin. I also love our sanctuary, and am very glad you listented when God called you to us in Paducah

Sharon, Isabella's Mommy said...

This is moving and gorgeous and honest and I love every word of it. Thank you.