Last night was our Thanksgiving service at church, and we ushered in another holiday season. Pastor Randy read a Psalm and told us it is this one thing of all our many traditions, given to us by God Himself. THIS GIVING THANKS. If we miss this we miss the whole point of all our feasting and trimming and magical musing. And there at church we sang songs and we told stories, and as it turned out there was one song in particular giving expression to most of our hearts.
I thought about taking the stage with the others, until I noticed how every other person said the same thing I would have been saying. Never once did we ever walk alone. And I actually thought when I sang it last night that this was MY SONG. My family’s song. Not even thinking it might be theirs, too. But there they were, one person after another, saying how God was faithful, and never once did He leave us on our own.
I sat in a row with Grant and Kiana and Kiana’s dad, Ken, on one side, and Kyle’s brother, Brian, on the other, and I thought about all of our family stories. The ones behind us and the ones ahead. Just this week stories we wouldn’t have expected a month ago crashing our party, crazy hard and crazy good, and I hardly know what to think or how to feel, except for this. Kneeling on this battle ground… Seeing just how much You’ve done… You are faithful, God, You are faithful.
Last weekend from the same stage Sean told us it’s God’s most repeated promise. “I will be with you.” He held up a picture of footprints in the sand, and he held up the book I loaned him from my library at home, a twenty-year-old version of Where’s Waldo. God is like this, and it doesn’t matter if you can see Him or not, He is WITH YOU. Sometimes carrying you and you don’t even know it.
And I’m thinking back to another sermon illustration a few weeks ago about this maniac guy, a tightrope walker from the 1800’s name of Charles Blondin. Pastor Randy told this story to illustrate faith, and I was sitting that weekend next to Luke’s girlfriend, Ali, who’s climbed mountains and jumped out of airplanes, and I leaned over and whispered – my hands are sweating at just the thought. So Randy talked about how this Blondin, who had walked his tightrope over the Niagara Falls time and again, would ask his audience, “Who’ll go over with me?” And for all their confidence in his feats of balance, there was never a taker, except, that is, for his own manager, who crossed the Falls on Blondin’s back. It’s the part of the story burned in my memory and lingering with me still. How the tightrope walker gave strict instructions to his boss riding piggy-back. Just move as I move. One move of your own and both of us die.
EVERY STEP WE ARE BREATHING IN YOUR GRACE…
This morning I woke up a bit later, on holiday time, curled up with Maple and a cozy blanket in my winter chair, sun shining at long last. I prayed and I read about Israel’s journey, and there underlined in Deuteronomy 3:22 was our go-to command. “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” This phrase, too, often repeated, and I leaned over low, and I whispered to God. You are faithful, God, you are faithful. My heart happy, and my heart heavy, and if it was up to me to decide how to lean, we’d be over those falls. So I ride instead to the sway of His grace, singing my song.
Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone*
*Never Once, by Matt Redman