How Great Thou Art: My Allume ~ The Grace Between

How Great Thou Art: My Allume

My Allume always seems to happen in the margins.

Thursday morning at 4:30 am, our fire alarm went off. Twice. It took me several minutes of confusion and panic to determine what the sound was and where it was coming from. There was no fire, no carbon monoxide, and the children were still sleeping, limbs all akimbo across their rumpled sheets.  (Note to self: do NOT expect them to save us in case of actual emergency)

My alarm was set for 5:00 am to catch the 6:08 train … my Allume journey would involve one commuter train, one metro ride, 2 flights, and an infant. I’m nothing if not committed. No need for my alarm now though-I was stiff legged lying next to my Darling Girl, the fear creeping over me in escalating waves.

I suffer from generalized fear and anxiety. Much of it stems from the events of our first year of marriage. Most days it is well under control, relegated to the shadow space of my memory. When it does uncurl itself from the darkness, I am undone, building disastrous scenarios in increasing scale until I am panic-stricken at the inevitable demise of everyone I love. What if the house DID catch on fire? What if they all perished  silently, put to sleep by a deadly, undetected gas. What if my plane crashes … and on and on, ad infinitum.

No more sleep for me.

I have a dear friend here, who is currently in the midst of a health crisis with her nine month old daughter. She was initially admitted to the hospital with a high white blood cell count and they began to run some tests, looking for infection. No infection. And so we received all received a text with the worst case scenario typed in stark, terrifying letters. Leukemia. Oh how we prayed. Pleading with the Lord for the answers to be different, for the doctors to be wise, for strength for my friend. But mostly for the answers to be different.

More tests, and another, blessed text with a different answer. It was an infection, hidden in her neck and difficult to detect if it is not being specifically sought out. And so we rejoiced, rightfully so. Still dangerous, but with an immediate surgical solution and no long term effects. We praised God for His mercy, all of us with tears of joy. And truly, I am joyful. But I must confess I am struggling. Steve Saint, son of Nate Saint (click here for his story), said in the aftermath of his college-aged daughter’s sudden death,

Why is it that we want every chapter to be good when God promises only that in the last chapter He will make all the other chapters makes sense, and he doesn’t promise we’ll see that chapter here? – Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

So I wonder. Would we still be praising God if the answer was leukemia? Can I stew in the worst case scenario my panic stricken brain can conjure and still say God is good?

Sometimes, when I lay bare my deepest fears, I don’t know if the answer is yes.

I stepped into the 18th Street metro station still uneasy, with the vague sense of unrest you get when you think you left the door unlocked, or the water running, or the stove on. Then, in the edges of my vision, I noticed an older gentleman perched upright against the crumbling red walls. Then I heard him singing. His hands were moving on his rickety keyboard, so I assume he was accompanying the deep baritone rumbling through the station, but I could only hear the words.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:

How great thou art! How great thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:

How great thou art! How great thou art!

Yes. Yes He is.

A smile cut across my face in the wake of this unlikely truth teller.

I picked up my flip flopped feet with a lighter step, joy blooming in the shadowy corners that harbor the deep dark hurt.

All of this, it is for His glory. His good. How great a God we serve. The joy and the sorrow, the life and the death.The small steps we take through the metro station, the words we spill out on the page. And Saturday night, the hymn singer’s message is repeated back in the form of a NOT 80 year old woman who has followed Jesus for a very long time.

When you walk with the Holy Spirit, He always points to Jesus. He never points to you. – Esther Burroughs

His greatness. His gospel. His grace. And if for even one second, that gospel and grace is reflected off the shards of my broken places-if His glory shines even from the deepest valley or the darkest well, then I am grateful.

This was my Allume.


However, I cannot let it go unmentioned that I got to hug these lovelies in real life.


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