Have you ever rolled on the floor with your best friend, laughing so hard that all you can get out is a choked “stop, stop it!” because they’re being so funny it hurts?
That happened to me this weekend. Except, the best friend was God. And He wasn’t being hilarious, He was being overwhelmingly glorious. And I wasn’t rolling on the floor, I was bawling.
The only name I can pin to the feeling I had was joy. Not “happiness” or “bliss” or “delirium”. Absolute, pure joy. Joy that is not ashamed or hidden beneath external feelings. Joy that comes directly and only from knowing how good the Lord is, joy that I’d only ever heard of, joy that I imagine Heaven to be built upon.
The night before, I found myself responding to God in worship. I didn’t know the song we were supposed to be singing, but I found my hands raised in adoration and a prayer escaping my lips: Yes. Yes, I am so happy right now. There is no place I would rather be. I only realized later that I must have been answering Him. He said, with a sly smile, “you love this, don’t you, Emily?”
The night I simultaneously and uncontrollably laughed and cried was the alter call for the retreat. Twenty young men and women chose that weekend to commit their lives to Christ. All I could think was Donald Miller’s disbelieving “this crazy thing really does happen. This crazy thing really does happen.” People do choose Jesus, He does bring His children home, He does rescue us from broken families, from dangerous lifestyles, from bad-influence-friends. This crazy thing really does happen.
I’m not a crier, but it’s not unusual for me to tear up when I witness people coming back to the Lord. It’s the most beautiful thing that can happen on Earth. It’s the whole point of life, I think, introducing others to Jesus and rejoicing with them when they meet Him. I don’t know why watching these twenty kids do it hit me so much harder than anything I’ve ever been a part of. I didn’t even know them! I only knew that God was present, working, real, and good.
Like, God is so fully good, so much the embodiment of goodness, that nothing on this earth even deserves to be called good. Not even Nutella. Musicals, coffee, snow days, lipstick, baby bunnies—if God is good, those things are awful.
This is not something I can convince you or anyone of. This is something that I, after growing up in a Christian home and being a part of Christian ministry my whole life, have only just experienced: waves of God’s goodness so powerful that I couldn’t stop crying no matter how hard I tried, that my jaw hurt from smiling so widely. This is something that I can only pray so earnestly that you will get a chance to experience, and that I pray so hopefully that I will be able to experience it with you.
Today I can say with honesty that the joy of the Lord is my strength. That I can keep going because nothing, not one single thing, can rob me of knowing Him personally.
Today I can say with humility that I believe God is at work in your life. That this crazy thing really happens. That no matter where you are, God is waiting for you. He will not sit inside until you knock on the door and are let in with downcast eyes. He will see you from miles off and He will run from the doorstep, picking up His robes to run toward you, forgetting all dignity to embrace you.
Today I can say with conviction that everything you and I have heard about God’s character is true. He is good. He is beautiful. He is loving. He is strong. He is holy, holy, holy.
He is real.
I find this to be true more and more every day. Especially in the little things. He hears you.
I was trying to print my term paper at 3ish this morning and I was alone in my friend’s room. My computer hates her printer and it usually takes us at least half an hour to get them to communicate. Unfortunately, my other friends were either asleep or out of paper, so I didn’t have any options (yeah yeah I procrastinated I know). The point is, I tried to print my paper and I was totally exhausted and I was like THIS WILL NEVER WORK, BECAUSE IT NEVER WORKS.
I was right! The printer just sat there telling me it was printing but clearly not printing, and I watched it for like 5 minutes with increasing stress levels. She always handles it for me, I don’t know how her printer works, she was with someone else and it was 3 am, come on.
I said, “um, God…it would be really great if my paper would just print.”
And then I cancelled the job and hit print again.
And then it worked.
I’m just saying.