Guest post from Joshua Gorenflo:
In Christ alone my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song. This cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
Dutifully we stood in the pews as these heavenly words rose with a limp and fell flat before they reached the Eucharist table. The way the melody marched rote off our lips in the most unconvincing show of exultant expectation brought tears to my eyes. And not the good kind.
The Jesus before Jerusalem kind.
My tears splotched the open hymnal as I choked on the words. We had no idea. Not really. Not in comfortable and complacent suburban Texas where droughts, though very real, never kept Walmart from running out of Dasani. Where really bad storms just meant filling out some paperwork for the insurance companies. Did you know you can do most of that online now?
Where Orbit handles our electricity and the gym is open 24/7 and our iPods are stuffed with thousands of hours of rock and roll.
Those words. What were those words to us? Here I was one of the paid ministers, one of the leaders of the church, on another obligatory Sunday, 2nd song from the prayer, 3rd aisle from the front. Right where I always was. God, I was desperate for salvation then. I needed those words to be real. To mean something. To count for more than the relief of my daily inconveniences and the assurance of victory over my perceived victimization, painful as it was. I needed to know, to see, to taste what it is to have an only hope found in a living God.
It wasn’t going to be here. God love these people, but I needed something else. I needed to get out.
That was four years ago. Admittedly, I’m still learning how to sing those words and honestly mean them. Last Saturday, my footsteps brought me a little bit closer to the heart of that song.
For the next 6 weeks my wife and I have committed to volunteer at African Christian College in the Kingdom of Swaziland. At ACC a new semester has dawned, new friends have joined this family, and a fresh spirit has filled this place with zealous fervor for God’s work in the global South. I can’t believe I get to be part of it. I can’t believe I’m here. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to glimpse worship in spirit and truth.
I wish you could hear them sing.
I wish you could see the way they dance while they go through all five verses – twice – as if they had just won the lottery. If you could only see the way they clap and smile and rejoice like God is right there in the room. The cries of their hearts pour out in prayers of their native tongue, sung over and over with such spirit, I wonder if I’ve ever known what it means to utter the Hallelujah.
As the chorus comes around again, the words get caught in my throat and I know it’s more than the foreign vocabulary. Tears threaten to splotch the soil and I’m caught out in an ironic smile because this time, they are the good kind. The when he saw their love for Lazarus, Jesus wept kind.
And for the first time, I sang:
What heights of love! What depths of peace! Where fears are stilled and strivings cease. My Comforter, my All in All. Here in the love of Christ, I stand.
Joshua and Jenny Gorenflo are visiting African Christian College for six weeks and we’re keeping them busy at work in many ways. This post by Joshua is part of a series where they will be sharing their experience on campus.
Joshua is an adventurer in search of beautiful stories to share. He seeks a more generous view of the world and contributes to that goodness in whatever way possible. He is a wordsmith at gotkingdom.blogspot.com and is training to be an Aikido master. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaGorenflo.