The past few days and weeks have been times of big change for me.
This past year brought changes in my professional life — becoming more settled in my career as a chaplain, opportunities to serve in the church in ways that were new and renewing to me, stretching me and strengthening my faith.
This past year I experienced new relationships with friends, changes in relationships with family, one long-term relationship, and a call to a richer connection within my own spiritual life to the center around which my life is called to flow, which for me is the Triune God of the Christian faith — Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit.
Yet I also have experienced losses — some friends moved away, my mother passed after my family supporting her through a painful bout with cancer, recently I had some relationships significant to me end suddenly with pain and others change in ways that I don’t yet understand fully.
I got a year closer to 40, which for me has brought haunting questions about my own mortality, what it means to be entering my forties single, without a family, and all the messages society has given me about success.
Even new doors that have opened to me in my work as chaplain and pastor, as a servant leader in my denomination, as an active member of my community, can leave me a bit shaken.
With so many changes, what holds?
While meditating on these thoughts, and while processing the big feelings each produced, I chanced upon the following beautiful song. This song is based on one of my favorite prayers of Scripture, Psalm 139, and like the Psalm it is based on, it reminds me that though I might fear with all the positive and painful changes of this past year that things cannot hold, yet they can. For what makes my life hold, what grounds my identity, is not just myself. It is that same Triune God — Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit — in whom I, you, and all things live, move, and have their being. That God is experienced in my life as the presence of love and the breath of life which, when I breathe it in fully, liberates me from the messages of distraction and destruction, launching me into a full life, fully present and engaged, open to joy and wonder. This loving presence is what birthed us each into the world; it is our true whom where we all shall return; for in God we find our dwelling place through all generations (Psalm 90 & 91).
I share this song in hopes that, if you are shaking from change in your life, its words may also help you find center, remembering who you and whose you are, and helping you to trust that it is not all up to you, but it all can hold for it is held in the hands of the loving God who made the worlds, sustains all life, and in whom all will be made well ultimately through Christ.
May it bless you as it blessed me!
Your progressive redneck preacher,
G C G
If I rise on the wings of the dawn
G C G
If I fly out across the sea
If I run ‘till I can run no more
Even then you will find me
If I sink to the deepest place
If I seek to in the darkness hide
If I lie even to myself
Still your hand will guide me
C G D G
For you hem me in before and behind
C G D
You the author of my days
C G Em
so I come before you arms stretched out
C D G
And I give you all my praise
Search me and know my heart
Test me and know my anxious thoughts
Lead me in your righteous way
So that I am with you . . . when I awake