Song: The Story I’ll Tell
Artist: Maverick City Music (Naomi Raines)
The other day I put some live worship videos on Youtube in the background while I was cleaning. Mid-sweep, I noticed The Story I'll Tell come up on the queue and it stopped me in my tracks. This song, written at a Maverick City Music camp, isn’t even released on streaming services yet - it will be soon. When I heard it, it got me thinking: in the midst of this dark, heavy, uncertain season, what story am I telling and where is God in my story?
The hour is dark,
And it’s hard to see,
What you are doin’,
Here in the ruins
And where this will lead,
Oh but I know,
That down through the years,
I’ll look on this moment,
See your hand on it
And know you were here
Throughout this season, I’ve repeatedly thought to myself that this will be a story to tell my future grandkids. I’ll recall the toilet paper crisis, the meat shortages in grocery stores, the countless hours of binge watching TV shows. Or on a more serious note, I’ll think of the rise of unemployment rates, the class of 2020 not having a normal graduation experience, or how elderly people in nursing homes are unable to be visited by their family members. I’ll remember the racial injustices we’ve witnessed and how badly marginalized groups are specifically being affected by this disease. I’ll remember those who have died from COVID-19 and I’ll remember their heartbroken families and friends. The list goes on.
“Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when though the rivers, they won’t sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you won’t be scorched and flame won’t burn you. I am the Lord your God, the holy one of Israel, your savior. I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place. Because you are precious in my eyes, you are honored, and I love you.” (Isaiah 43: 1-4, CEB)
It’s hard to see God in the midst of “the ruins” - as the song articulates in this first verse. Fear tends to dominate uncertain seasons like the one we are collectively experiencing right now. God doesn’t promise that navigating humanity will be easy, but God does promise to walk with us through the waters and the fire because of His unending love for us.
And I’ll testify of the battles you’ve won
How you were my portion when there wasn’t enough
I'll sing a song of the seas that we crossed
The waters you parted
The waves that I walked
This pre-chorus immediately took me to the account of Moses in Exodus - I encourage you to take some time to go back and read it! As a kid, I knew it by heart and it was easy to recite: God used Moses and parted the red sea to deliver the Israelites. As an adult, Moses’ life has been harder for me to process. Throughout the story, we see God shifting Moses’ perspective. Moses was only able to complete the daunting tasks set before him because of the grace of God. This entire story is not about what Moses, a human, can’t do, but about what God can do. We must trust that God is faithful in our own lives as he was to Moses, and we must look back and recount personal stories of God’s faithfulness. Ask God to shift your perspective - maybe a story of hardship will be intertwined with a story of God’s faithfulness.
OH OH OH My God did not fail
OH OH OH it’s the story I’ll tell
OH OH OH I know it is well
OH OH OH is the story I’ll tell
Paul writes these words to the Philippians:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4: 4-9, NIV)
I have a hard time staying positive in the midst of hard times, but here, Paul encourages early Christians by reminding them that their thoughts impact their relationship with Christ. It’s important to remember the good things and rejoice - not only for the sake of our mental health, but for our relationship with Christ. I’ve learned that as soon as I shift my perspective during hard times and start thinking of the positive things around me, God’s peace washes over me.
All that is left is highest praises
So sing hallelujah to the Rock of Ages
So, what story will you tell of COVID-19 to your grandkids? The stories I mentioned above cannot be forgotten, and must be told, but I pray that I also remember to tell the stories of those working selflessly in the front lines (medical professionals, grocery store workers, delivery drivers, etc.) to help keep our society running. I pray that I remember the rise-up (Hamilton reference) of so many young leaders advocating for social justice. I pray that I remember to tell of the radical generosity of countless people who have given their time and money to help people and businesses in need (including giving to our church. Central is so blessed!) I mostly pray that the story I tell of this pandemic is rooted in God’s faithfulness.
Take a moment today to rejoice - for the big things and the small things. Be reminded that God is faithful and is for you. Let the peace of Christ wash over you.