The World According to Tiff Sniff

Meandering ponderings and wonderings on the state of things.

Church Signs, part deux

The one I saw today actually made me smile. It read: You think it's hot here.....

At the time, the thermometer in my car showed the outside temp as 97 degrees. Yikes!

On a more serious note (?), I went to the free concert Jars of Clay put on at Shopryland. Actually, one of the local Christian radio stations put it on, but Jars played. If you've never seen them perform, you really should. They are a lot of fun. When "Flood" came out, back in the day, I went to see them play Dancin' in the District. WRLT used to put it on, and get bands you actually wanted to see. And it was free. It was awesome.

I didn't know any of their songs other than "Flood", and in fact didn't realize they were, in fact, a Christian band until that night. But Riverfront was packed, full of young people dancing and jumping and enjoying the music. The coolest moment, of course, was when it started pouring rain just as they started "Flood", and they had to stop to cover some of the equipment before playing the song. It was so cool, there just aren't words. I went out and bought their CD the next day, and have gone through at least three copies of it since.

But I think my favorite Jars of Clay memory comes from a different time and place. Most of you know that in college I had a roommate and close friend who was really sick. Mentally, physically, she had some real problems, and no health insurance to pay for treatment. It was hell. The four of us who lived together that year spent hundreds of hours trying to come up with money to get her into a hospital, trying to find a treatment facility with a scholarship she could use. A couple of times she got into a place for a day or two, but never for long enough to get well.

I'm sorry to say that I've lost touch with her, this amazing woman who had survived so much, and who was studying to be a social worker - to go into the painful places she had lived and reach out to others, to keep other young girls from making her mistakes. Her life story is powerful. I wish I knew where and how she was now.

During that year, she struggled with her faith a lot, and all of us roommates struggled right along with her. It was so hard, so hard, to watch her suffering, to pray for some sort of help or relief, and to be denied again and again and again. In fact, after that year, it was a long time before I had enough emotion in me to really cry. I'm talking months. Those of you who know me well know what a change that is for me.

But I have good memories of that time. During that year my faith really became my own. As my friend and I talked about God, who He is and whether He is and how we can know, I had to dig deep and search why I believe.

Even now, I'm not very good at verbalizing it. My faith seems to be based largely on experience. Not miracles per se, although I did see my sister survive her infancy and become the cute little pre-med she is today. But moments of absolute certainty that I was not alone, times when the joy or peace or comfort I felt had no explanation. I have been completely alone, and never felt so loved. I have been in the middle of a crowd of worshipping people and felt and seen nothing but Him. I can't tell you exactly why; if we could quantify our faith, and put it into exact terms, I think it would no longer be faith, just facts.

There were nights we would sit and read Psalms and just bawl together, at the pain of our broken lives, and at the same time the joy of God's promise of peace someday, somewhere. Psalm 63 became my constant mantra: "Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you." It became okay that life sucked so bad, because God's perfect love was always there. That verse has gotten me through many, many bad days.

So what does all of this have to do with Jars of Clay? Just that my friend used to come home from college with me a lot. We would always listen to their first CD, titled "Jars of Clay". We wouldn't even talk, each of us lost in our own thoughts or prayer, but would set the CD player on repeat. Driving across some of the ugliest Arkansas landscapes, I would be moved to tears by the way every song seemed to be so relevant to my life right then. We would usually listen to "Worlds Apart" several times, and those words still have such power to me: (With apologies to Jars of Clay)

More and more I need you now,
I owe you more each passing hour
the battle between grace and pride
I gave up not so long ago
So steal my heart and take the pain
and wash my feet and cleanse my pride
take the selfish, take the weak,
and all the things I cannot hide
take the beauty, take my tears
my sin-soaked heart, God, make it yours
take my world all apart
take it now, take it now
and serve the ones that I despise
speak the words I can't deny
watch the world I used to love
fall to dust and blow away
I look beyond the empty cross
forgetting what my life has cost
so wipe away the crimson stains
and dull the nails that still remain
steal my heart and take the pain
take the selfish, take the weak
and all the things I cannot hide
take the beauty, take my tears
take my world apart, take my world apart
I pray, I pray, I pray
take my world apart

So Sheks, wherever you are, I hope you are happy and content. I hope you have found what you are called to do, because I know you will touch lives the way you still touch mine. I love you and pray for you, and hope to meet you again someday.

3 Responses to “Church Signs, part deux”

  1. # Blogger JAW

    Ya know, to this day "Worlds Apart" is still probably my favorite (Contemporary) Christian song ever recorded. Thanks for this post.  

  2. # Blogger Michael Hickerson

    I love Jars of Clay...they're song "I Need You" is just a great one. Man, I missed a free JoC concert...I tell you, I gotta read the what is going on in Nashville section of the papers a bit more often.  

  3. # Blogger Michael Hickerson

    And it should say "their song..." I do have some grasp of grammar...just not much.  

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