How great…indeed.

I totally had a “moment” at church today. For those of you who know me well, you know that it extremely normal and common for me to get choked up or full-on cry during worship. Something about corporate worship, or singing praise songs with a bunch of other people if you aren’t as familiar with that phrase, just leads me to tears quite often. Certain songs more than others.

Today there was a man sitting directly behind me with Down’s Syndrome. We shook his hand during the greeting time. During the first few songs, he was kind of kicking my chair and trying a little to sing/mutter along with the songs. Then we stood and sang “How Great is Our God” by Chris Tomlin. And let me tell you: the guy behind me KNEW THIS SONG. He started “singing” at the TOP of his lungs–every single word loud and clear. His voice was harsh and grating. It was much more like shouting than it was singing. Many people started turning around to see what the deal was.

But I am telling you: I just LOST it. I started bawling at the beauty of it. My reasons for the sudden rush of tears was complicated…and isn’t it always when a woman bursts into tears!?!? 🙂 I was so blown away by the sincere, authentic and passionate praise coming straight from his heart. His simple mind probably did not process a lot of the sermon, which was pretty intellectual, especially in parts, but he absolutely knew what he was singing: “How great is our God! SING WITH ME! How great is our God! ALL will see how great, HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!” I was completely overwhelmed. He was truly singing for an audience of One, and he didn’t know (or care?) that some people thought his voice wasn’t good. I can only imagine how much joy our Father was experiencing through this man’s worship, as honest and beautiful as a child. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to sing that song again without thinking of him.

Another thing that kept going through my mind is that this very week we had decided to have a blood test done to check for any genetic abnormalities in our unborn baby.  There was a small dot on our baby’s heart during the first ultrasound, and although they don’t think it’s anything significant, they recommended this blood test to confirm and rule out certain possibilities. Although I am an optimist by nature, ever since college I’ve had dreams and daydreams that one of my children will be handicapped in some way. The test this week was particularly checking for Down’s Syndrome. I’ve often wondered what it would be like if any of our children were born less than perfectly healthy. Through Trent’s job, he has seen and told of numerous disabilities and birth defects that can cause a family immense grief, inconvenience and incomparable sacrifice. But I think through this man today, I felt God was reminding me that HE IS IN CONTROL of the health of my child. If my child is born blind, or deaf or with Downs? We will love them just the same and He’ll give me the strength to deal with it. It was abundantly clear to me this morning that God can move in the hearts of those who are not physically perfect in the world’s eyes. In fact, I wonder if our intellect, health and complicated emotions often stand in the way of God’s moving/speaking/leading in our lives? We rely on our own strength to fight through hard times, our own brains to figure out tough situations. This morning, my desire was to find a way to be a little simpler and purer in my own worship–and trust–of our great, GREAT GOD.


  1. I am crying right now! I’m home sick today and my cell phone is currently on “speaker” as I’m listening/worshipping to our worship service going on right now. Thank you for sharing this. Your perspective is so right on! I’ve always loved your sensitivity and heart of worship…your children will be blessed because of it.

  2. Thanks for the reminder. I’ve had many of the same thoughts about whether or not God would ever task Sarah and I with taking care of a child with an “abnormality”. I also am moved by the authentic experience you described. I can just see one day when God embraces His children (like the one you saw) in heaven and blessing their hearts for all the times they blessed His.

  3. I love that part of worship–the messy part! And when you think of how many people, around the world, are singing at the very moment you are singing with your church–well, it’s overwhelming. I cry often, and I worry about it less often in corporate worship now that I’ve cried more than once leading KIDS’ worship. I believe that is pathetic, but it has happened!

  4. Thanks so much for being faithful to share: what a beautiful, *real* picture you paint. A similar thing happened at my worship gathering two weeks ago. I didn’t attend, but was listening to the podcast. The children’s pastor shared about how during a song that had a designated section for humming she heard an autistic child she works with humming along – one of the first times he could share and participate in worship in his own way! I got weepy listening to her describe how beautiful it was.

    You and Trent and Carson are just the people God has in mind to raise up little Phoebe/Phoebo: I pray for peace of heart and joy of spirit as you wait for the arrival of the Little One!

  5. Before I write this comment, I have to tell you that I think God’s sense of humor just kicked in…I was all teary-eyed from reading your post and decided to comment. I noticed the word verification for this comment is (I KID you not!!) FARTOYWL. (Thanks for the comic relief, Lord!)

    Now, to the business at hand . . .

    That was beautiful. As I read it, I flashed back to about 6 or 7 years ago when Disneyland had their live stage production of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. By far, it’s been one of the best they’ve launched at the park. We saw it many times.

    On this one particular occasion, we arrived early to get a good seat. Consequently, I didn’t realize that about 50 seriously disabled young adults–all in wheelchairs–had been brought in to the theatre. They lined the back of the audience seating, just behind the bar separating the lower level from the upper.

    After the big finale and curtain calls, the sound engineer played the soundtrack of the film–Angela Lansbury singing the title song. That’s when I saw them back there. Fifty or more radiantly smiling people, some of them actually connected to IVs and oxygen lines, waiting for the crowd to exit before they could be taken out as a group.

    It was their angelic countenances, juxtaposed with that song of hope and beauty that just did me in. I was a mess that afternoon…thanking God for my family’s health that I took for granted, and for opening my eyes to the deep inner beauty of these precious people. I couldn’t help wondering how many of them longed for a transformation like that experienced by the Beast when he received Belle’s love. THEN I remembered that God’s love for them was far more precious than that of a beautiful fairy-tale princess, and that an even greater transformation was awaiting them.

    Thanks for reminding me of that teary (cathartic) afternoon

    Now I’m gonna write fartoywl!

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