January 2014 – An Offering Will My Life Forever Be.
“You are all glorious
You are all glorious
My heart leans in
My soul must sing
You are all glorious”
These were the words I was listening to as I watched our car crash into the car in front of us while on the highway in Atlanta, Georgia.
It was a Friday morning and my brother and I were coming from a small town in Georgia called Toccoa heading down to our school in West Palm Beach, Florida. The traffic in Atlanta was stop and go when my brother was looking to turn into the lane next to us.
The traffic in our lane stopped. He hit the brakes, but there was not enough time before hitting the car in front of us. There was a horrific screeching noise coming from our car after it crashed. The music was so loud. There was so much noise. An atmosphere of chaos enveloped the car in the seconds before my brother turned it off.
We just sat there. Both of us not knowing what to do. I held back my tears for a while. I didn’t want him to see me cry. I never wanted anyone to see me cry. I wanted everything to be ok, even though it wasn’t.
The police came and we got our car to the side of the road. The rest was a blur of my brother making phone calls and talking with the police and waiting. I hated waiting. I’ve had to wait too often for too long.
My chest was ready to explode. I was in shock. It didn’t seem real. We just crashed. Crashed. Our car failed. I didn’t know what to do. What do you do when your car crashes and it won’t turn on and you are stuck? Stuck on the side of the highway. I felt so helpless. The police told me to stay in the car.
So I prayed. I prayed for my brother, for the guy in front of us, for wisdom, for peace. I texted others to pray too because I didn’t know what to pray or how to pray. In all honesty I didn’t want to pray. All I knew was my chest hurt and it was hard to breathe and I didn’t want to be hurt again. I was tired of being hurt. I was tired of having to tell people that I was broken, that I wasn’t okay. When would I ever be ok? There was nothing else I could do. I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. Pretty soon they just began to fall.
The tow truck came and drove us to a junk yard. We got the luggage and all of our belongings out of our car and were told to expect that we would never see our car again.
A friend from Toccoa came and picked us up at the junk yard and took us and all our baggage back to the town we were leaving. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to go back. I wanted to go to school. I wanted to go to Winter Jam. I wanted to sing my heart out. It had been so long. Instead I was shocked into silence.
“Are you ok?” is the common question that is asked when a person gets into a car crash. “Yes” is the appropriate response if no one was physically injured during a car crash. So yes we were ok. No scrapes, no bruises. We’re all ok. We’re ok. We are ok. I’m ok. I am ok.
When I walked up to the room I was staying in I fell on my bed. My heart was pounding still. I was still in shock. As always I tried forgetting and hung out with friends that day, even though I felt like a ghost. I wasn’t really there. I was just existing hoping that I would eventually get through the shock and move on with my life. I don’t remember anything that happened that day.
Once the day was over and I was alone in my room I didn’t know what to do with myself. A lot of anger had built up throughout the day. I knew it was wrong. I didn’t want to be angry. So I turned on music by Laura Story. She has gone through a lot of trials in her life. I like listening to her songs because I know that there is depth to the words she sings.
And of course the song “Blessings” came on. I got angry. That song brings back so many memories of past hardships. I did not want to feel. It hurt too much to feel pain. “What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy? What if trials of this life; the rain, the storms, the hardest nights are your mercies in disguise?” is what she sang.
“Why?” I started weeping. I started yelling through my tears. “Why God? WHY?! WHY?! WHY?! Why does it have to be through trials, through pain that I grow? Why does this have to happen? I can’t handle this anymore. I’m so tired of all this hurt.” The question “why” kept burning in my mind. The tears kept falling.
God kept bringing me to this place of total brokenness and I was so tired of it. I was so tired of being broken, of being weak. When could I be strong? People always saw me as weak and afraid. At least that is how I always saw myself. When could I have joy again? I kept feeling incredible sorrow. When could I let go of worry? My life is so short. Every moment that I look down at the scar on my leg I am reminded of the brevity of my life. When would the doubt that God IS a good God go away so that I could truly believe that He IS good and that He truly DOES love me? When would I be able to believe again? I wanted so desperately to believe in God. I wanted so desperately to trust Him. It was just so hard. I didn’t know how to trust in this God that I did not understand.
I thought that God kept proving himself untrustworthy. Every time something difficult happened in my life my faith was shaken. Cancer, death, big transitions, and physical wounds shook my faith. I thought that God was good. I was taught that God redeems suffering and that good comes out of it even if we can’t see it. I couldn’t see it, but I wanted so desperately to see what God was doing because all I kept seeing and feeling was pain. I could not see him redeeming my life. I had been waiting two years to see if there was any good that would come out of the scar on my leg, but it was so hard to see. I thought that God kept failing me. I thought my pain was not able to be redeemed.
The tears started to subside. I stopped writing and opened up my Bible. I do not remember what I read. I probably read some Psalms because I can resonate with many of the things that David talks about. I kept listening to Laura Story until I finally fell asleep.
My brother and I made it back to school. We ended up having to fly. I love flying. Plus I was happy not to be in a car.
A few weeks later I was sitting on the balcony of my dorm waiting for my roommate’s Brita to fill up with water from the common room sink. I turned on my iPod and the song “I Desire Jesus” by Hillsong came on. It was such a familiar song. I could not figure out why it was so familiar. They started singing the bridge and I remember. It was the song I was listening to during the car crash. I thought it was so ironic. I had been listening to a song praising God and speaking of His glory while our car failed us. I was so angry with God, yet in the midst of my anger and shock I had been listening to music that praised Him.
I kept listening and let myself remember the crash. I had spent the past few weeks pushing it out of my memory and going to classes like a “normal” student. I had kept telling myself, my family, and my friends that everything was ok. I was ok. We were all ok. We are always ok. It was a lie. I wasn’t ok. I was shaken. I was confused. I was angry.
The song ends with these words:
“I desire Jesus
Precious Lamb who ransomed me
Unto you an offering will my life forever be”
I kept playing the song on repeat. Eventually I began singing along to the last line of the song “Unto you an offering will my life forever be.” I was not ok. I still did not fully understand why God let difficult things happen in my life. But what I DID know was that two years ago while I was lying broken on a hospital bed crying because the pain in my leg was so great I gave God my whole life fully knowing that my life would not be easy and that there would be more pain to come. I knew that there were going to be hardships in following Christ. I couldn’t turn back now. All I could do was look at the cross and cry “Unto you an offering will my life forever be.” I pray that you would choose to do the same. It is not easy, but it is worth it.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 (ESV)