|Image: Valerie Lindgren Smith with Sherwood Studio Kit: The Faith Project.|
Sometimes, gratitude blossoms from the simple reminder that our God wants to be our everything... in a personal, intimate love relationship.
He rides the clouds... and he hovers.
Rejoicing in his presence is a natural response.
Father to the fatherless... by circumstance, death or disinterest.
He is the defender of widows.
Where he dwells is holy.
Sing praises to God and to his name! Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds. His name is the — rejoice in his presence! Father to the fatherless, defender of widows— this is God, whose dwelling is holy. -Psalm 68:4-5
Whose dwelling place is holy. What do I know of holy? I am human and imperfect.
This awesome God of ours dwells not only in the sanctuaries built for worship, but in our homes and in our hearts when we invite him into our lives. His presence creates the holy places.
I giggled at the "sing loud praises to him." in this verse. That was my Dad. Loud. Off key and sometimes off beat, but he did not let his lack of talent interfere with his praise and enthusiasm. It didn't stop him from singing boldly the songs that touched his heart.
Dad liked the old gospel hymns... but he worshiped weekly with a great deal of modern praise music. He leaned over one Sunday as they were singing "Ten Thousand Reasons" and told Mama, "I like this one. It's a farmer's song." A story I did not hear until the morning we worshiped after his death but before his funeral. We were in the space in between.
I had struggled with the last song for his service. We wanted something that reflected his relationship with the Lord. Then the worship band played "10,000 Reasons". A soul song for me. I told Mama how I loved it and she said, "Your Dad did, too." and told me the story.
God's intervention on that morning... the first Sunday we were fatherless... was even bigger than it appeared. In fact... it was huge.
After church, I asked Heidi,the pastor's wife, who leads music worship and would do so for Dad's service, if we could swap out the hymn we had given her and put in "10,000 Reasons". I explained I knew the one hymn was good, but not quite right. Then, I told her the rest of the story. Or, I thought is was the rest of the story. Not even close.
Heidi leaned back against the sanctuary wall, took a deep breath, smiled and said, "Now, I have a story to tell you."
Heidi's and Pastor Andy had been tied up all weekend with her little brother's wedding. She had everything set for Sunday's music worship well before Friday, when wedding things would be front and center. They had a fabulous and full wedding weekend. She had planned ahead so Sunday would be smooth sailing for worship. Well, that is what she thought.
Sunday morning, the Holy Spirit placed on Heidi's heart... in the way he does... to switch out the song she had selected. He clearly directed her to "10,000 Reasons". I am sure she thought, "Really, Lord? Does it really matter? We have a nice song selected. I'm tired. Let's just go with it."
But, in obedience to the Holy Spirit, Heidi went in early enough to change the song, change the slides for the screen and let Pastor Andy and the worship band know of the change.
In fact, when we stopped in the pastor's office before the service... that change is exactly what she was working on at the computer. She had no idea what that song change would mean for the entire row of grieving Lindgrens in the days between a death and a burial. His hand was moving, but we did not see it.
I told her, "Sometimes God winks. Sometimes, God struts." He was strutting his stuff on that morning in His sanctuary.
We were not fatherless. Not even close. Our Heavenly Father moved boldly to make clear his presence. He is a good and present Father.
No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. -John 14:18
Today, I am grateful for the Father of the Fatherless.