Musings from the Balcony
“Your love never fails. It never gives up. It never runs out on me.”*
I stood, watching a gym full of hundreds of college students, singing these words of praise and truth. Arms-raised, dancing, clapping, and shouting – I admired their passion. The pulsing drums, the rocking guitars, the melodic keyboard, and the passionate vocals all came together to celebrate God’s relentless love. I joined them in singing these words, and I remembered sitting in the same balcony seats three years ago during this weekly time of worship at Singspo on Sunday nights.
Three years ago, I came to these times of worship in desperation to feel something during a time of deep pain and brokenness. I was struggling with one of my darkest periods of depression, right in the middle of seminary. I knew how to read Greek and Hebrew, spent hours studying the text of Scripture, but I doubted the reality of the Lord’s goodness in my life. I found it difficult to see God’s love for me. Yet, even during this time of depression, I was still drawn to this time of worship through song, since music had been a way I connected to God in the past. I wanted to remember His love, even if I felt unlovable. I would sing these songs, and even if I didn’t feel it, I would be reminded, even if in the faintest of ways, of the truth of His love for me.
Three years later, I’m in a different place. I’ve experienced the healing grace of God, and while there are still many broken parts of me, I can actually say that I do see and experience the Lord’s goodness. I can sing these words of praise and worship, and see how the Lord has brought me from darkness into light, and I’m so grateful. Through relationships with safe people in community, the Lord has brought much healing and hope to my life. I’ve been able to be honest with these good friends about my struggles, and find freedom and grace. I know the Lord’s unconditional love through these relationships, as they’ve demonstrated the truth and reality of His love.
As others have reflected the power of relationship to me, I see how God shows His love through relationship. I’ve been reading the book, Dynamic Diversity: Bridging Class, Age, Race and Gender in the Church by Bruce Milne, where he talks about the theology behind multi-cultural ministry and how we reflect God as we are in relationship with one another. I was struck by a quote he used by Stanley Grenz from The Social God and the Relational Self: “The three members of the Trinity are ‘person’ precisely because they are persons-in-relationship; that is, their personal identities emerge out of the reciprocal relation …[hence] the Creator’s will that humans be the representation of the divine reality means that the goal of human existence is to be persons-in-community.” Community is so essential, as we are made in the image of the Triune God, and made for relationship with God and with one another.
In my own experience, I’ve seen the healing power of being in relationship with others as they reflect God’s love to me. It’s amazing to me to see the journey that God has taken me, and I’m thankful for His faithfulness and provision. During some of those dark times, I never expected to be in a place where I could genuinely sing of God’s love and be excited about it again. Yet, the Lord shows me His transforming grace, despite my unbelief. When I couldn’t see His truth and beauty clearly, He would send people to remind me of His love and His power. I can sing, dance, and shout about how His love truly never fails, and that He never gives up on me.
*Lyrics from “One Thing Remains” by Kristian Stanfill