Finding Hope in the Adventure

One of the coolest things about my life since I’ve met Jesus is that He has set me out on an adventure. My life is rarely boring. I occasionally get overwhelmed, but God’s working on teaching me balance and the adventuresome life is great practice for learning those lessons.

Today was another one of those days when my life wasn’t boring.

It was supposed to be a normal day. Work from 8-5 with a break from 12-12:30 for lunch. The only exciting part of the day for me was that the Bishop and most of the department heads were going to be out of the office. That meant that I could get away with wearing jeans (nice black ones) and tennis shoes (new dark gray ones) behind my desk (instead of my normal khakis & brown flats) and I could turn my music up a little louder than usual.

At 1:30, in the midst of my “normal” day, Sheila buzzed me from the switchboard to tell me to pick up Line 2. And that is when my day became an adventure.

“Sarah, I need you to do me a favor.” My friend Nicole’s slightly desperate voice came over the line. “Pop Wheeler’s funeral starts in half an hour. And a lot of the choir members couldn’t get off work and—well—do you know ‘Lord, You Are Faithful’ and ‘Thou, O Lord’?”

“Yes, but—“ I looked down at my jeans and tennis shoes. “I’m not dressed for a funeral.”

“We’ve got choir robes.”

“But Jon’s gone to lunch and I don’t have permission.”

“I’ll call him and get permission! You just meet me in the side room behind the sanctuary in five minutes. I’ll bring your robe.”

And just that quickly, she was gone.

I’d never met Pop Wheeler but in that tiny little town I work in I couldn’t have helped but to have heard of him. But at 2:00, in jeans and tennis shoes and a borrowed choir robe, without having had time to warm up or practice the two songs with the choir, I was standing on the front row of the choir loft, singing over him and his family.

It was a nice service. There were many tears as he was grieved and much laughter as his life was celebrated. And never having met this man, I was somehow adopted into his family for a little while. And I found myself laughing with them and crying with them.

Sniffling in the choir loft, I looked down at Pop’s flag-draped casket and realized that I wasn’t just grieving for him, but for all of the loved ones I’ve lost. And even the loss of my friend Helen’s mother, who passed away last week, but whom I had also never met.

I love the story that was told at evangelist Tommy Tyson’s funeral several years ago. The minister said, “It’s as if God said, ‘Tommy, it’s closer to My house than yours. Why don’t you come on home with Me?’”

That story gives me hope. It reminds me that God has prepared a place for me and that He really wants me there with Him and that one day, He’ll come to me and say, “Sarah, it’s closer to My house than yours. Why don’t you come on home with Me?”

And so today, knowing where Pop Wheeler is and where Helen’s mother is and where my grandparents are—serving Jesus in Heaven while holding a spot for me to join them—I was overcome with a desire to find some way to express that hope to the Wheeler family. And the only means I had of expressing that hope was in my feeble song.

When it came time to sing the final song, we stood in front of the weeping family and began to sing. But a few words into the song, our CD began to skip and drag. One of the men behind me gestured at the sound man to cut the CD. And acapella, in front of this large audience, our small, motley, unpracticed choir completed the song:

Many are they increased that trouble me

Many are they that rise up against me

Many there be which say of my soul,

“There is no help for him, in God.”

But Thou, O Lord, are a shield for me

My glory and the lifter of my head

Thou, O Lord, are a shield for me

My glory and the lifter of my head!

I cried unto the Lord with my voice

And He heard me out of His holy ear

I laid me down and slept and awaked—

For the Lord sustained—He sustained me!

Thou, O Lord, are a shield for me

My glory and the lifter of my head

Thou, O Lord, are a shield for me

My glory and the lifter of my head!

And somehow, when the CD cut off, it was like the angels came and stood among us singing. Our voices were so strong and full. One of Pop Wheeler’s granddaughters came and stood with us, singing and sobbing simultaneously. Hands were raised all over the auditorium and people came to their feet, singing along. For a moment, I thought we had been translated to Heaven like Elijah. And in that moment, I never wanted to leave that place.

Thank God that my life is not boring and that He’s put me on the path of adventure. It was on this path that He blessed me today. Mary DeMuth, in her recently released memoir, Thin Places, refers to what happened to me today as a “thin place.” She says that “thin places are snatches of time, moments really, when we sense God intersecting our world in tangible, unmistakable ways.”

I thank God that today, when I least expected it and was least prepared for it, He brought me to a thin place, where He reached a finger into my world, stirred the waters of my life, and in the process, gave hope to some of His children who needed a little. Even me.

About Sarah Salter

Comments

  1. This is beautifully written, and I especially love this part:
    when I least expected, He brought me to a thin place, reached a finger into my world, and stirred the waters of my life.
    Thank you for sharing your unusal day.

  2. David Allen says:

    Very touching post Sarah 😉

  3. Sarah, this is beautiful. Thank you so much.

  4. Just awesome…

  5. This is a lovely post, Sarah, and I’m humbled that my little book had a small part of it. May the Lord continue to bring thin places into your life.

  6. Sarah, I wish I could have heard you sing. What a blessing to be able to share your vocal gifts with this family and be blessed beyond measure in return.

  7. OK, so it’s my lunch hour, and I’m sitting here reading this with tears in my eyes. You had a great story, and you told it well.

  8. Beautiful, simply true and beautiful.

    My sorrow just now is that my parents have little time left on this earth, and do NOT know Jesus. He’s inviting them to His house, but they’re not listening.

  9. Beautiful story, Sarah. I love reading what you write, and can picture you singing amongst the angels!

  10. Oh I was so hoping you were going to write about this! I saw your Tweet about leaving to go sing and I knew it was going to be an awe filled time. I think one of the things I loved about being a church worker was getting the chance to be connected in times of transition like this, to be useful, to help love a family through. Clearly, you do too. Thank you so much!

  11. Just wonderful. Thanks for sharing this Sarah. I do love those moments- they make all those less than glorious moments worth it.

  12. Loved this post, Sarah. It almost felt like I was there with you. I’m so glad you had the opportunity to sing for this family.

  13. Love this post!!! Looking forward to reading more of your content :)

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