I’ll sing the song of the redeemed, I will. I’ll stand in a school gymnasium, in the congregation of the saints, and I’ll sing until the tears run down my face, mascara tracking, about how He loves us, about His justice, about His lovingkindness. I’ll dance-sway in the back aisle with the other mamas-with-babes-in-arms, we have toddlers to chase and that is part of our worship, and I’ll think that this is what heaven sounds like, stomping feet, and laughing children, and people singing, hang on a second, let me kick my shoes off, this is holy ground.

I tell the stories of how God has been enough for me, how he has changed me, saved me, set me free, redeemed me. I sing about my gratitude, a deep, bone deep, gratitude for the vulgar, lavish, wild grace and love of my God.

But do you know what I love about these Sunday mornings, about the space between the songs? I remember the stories I don’t speak out loud. I remember the secrets, just between me and Jesus, and the millions of ways I’ve been healed and restored and no one will ever know.

The sweetest restorations are the secret ones, don’t you think?

The Lord has done great things for me. I am filled with joy.

I sing these songs of the redeemed, but sometimes the songs don’t have words, and it’s sweet for the secret language of knowing, for the space between the words, for the humming and the silence, and the waiting.

And maybe no one else will ever know the depth to which he went to pull me out of the mire, but I know. My feet smell of the earth still, and even that is real and good to me now. These Sunday mornings, when everyone is singing, these are my appointment times to remember, and give thanks, my own secret eucharisteo moments that don’t ever make it to a keyboard, because they’re not for mass consumption.

The stories that aren’t written are my favourites.

I love to see the people of God with my own eyes, in a real room, with real people, right now. I love knowing that we all have these secrets. We all have them. And they’re sweet because they’re only ever ours.

And I love that we don’t match with each other, so many of us might not be friends if it weren’t for this Jesus stuff, and when I saw the conservative-looking dad in bad khakis cinched to his waist, stand beside his teenage son, and witnessed them singing, together, his arm around his son’s shoulders, and that teenage boy, he wrapped his arm around his Dad’s khaki-ed waist, singing, defying every stereotype to find a moment of loving peace in community, I could have gone home right there. (Teenage boys, aren’t you longing for your Daddy to hold you, too? don’t we all?) There were kids playing games on the iPhones, and I watched my friend, a mother of three, dance and dance, elegant, unrestrained as a girl, and I felt like she was dancing for me, too.

We sang songs to worship our God, we sang songs to remember our stories. And when we were quiet, the in-between moments, the Holy Spirit breathing truth, all of us remembering the desert, smelling of earth and coffee and breakfast, and the crop of new babies cried, and a kid laughed with his dad, and we all exhaled, before our preacher tossed his notes away behind the podium, and opened up his Bible.

He read the story of the Prodigal Son, and his voice cracked, and we all cried, have you ever really read it? we wondered, how had we forgotten the Good News?

And the Word of God was enough for us, again, always, always, enough, blessed be the name of the Lord.



In which I am finished ignoring
In which I commission you
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  • the Blah Blah Blahger

    May I tell YOU a secret? I haven’t been faithful about going to church lately. I’ve had a bad attitude. I haven’t felt at home. But this…THIS reminds me of why I love it and that I need to be there, in the building, to see the Body of Christ every once in a while.

  • Lindsay

    This, right here, is the best of what our church communities can be. So beautiful.

  • I am in awe that you revel in the stories that are not told. So many of the stories I suppress are the ones I am a-scared to tell because of what it might say about me. That the not telling could be part of the grace, well, just wow!

  • Dawn

    I’ve often thought the most powerful church services had simple songs, prayers, the reading of the scriptures, and a testimony or two. Beautiful.

  • This love song to the church – it gladdens my heart and reignites my love for Christ and His bride. Thank you.

  • This is one of my favorite things too. Sometimes, we hold those secrets close and they sing intimacy between me and Jesus.

    And it’s good to remember, we are surrounded by people who might have glory lurking right beneath their everyday facade. You never know when you might meet a superhero in disguise.

  • This is beautiful and so true, Sarah. God has brought me from cynicism to joy at the different ways He works in each of us. He has done things that words cannot describe.

  • I love that.

  • Chelle72

    Truly beautiful. just found this by accident and i’m so glad i did. you articulate honestly and beautifully. sounds like my church too and i love that we are not alone in how we love Jesus and express his love for us.

  • Oh, I’ve been mulling over this thing, of the secret, and the way sometimes putting words or paint to it seals it all in tight, gives it wings and makes it real. But other times, no words and no art could speak it more clearly than the silence. Mercy, this was good.

  • pastordt

    Gorgeous. Sighing now.

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  • Lindsay Privette

    There’s something very sacred about these secrets. Something gets lost we we share them casually or in large groups, I think. I spoke in church last night. Ostensibly, it was a time to share your “testimony”, but I have too many stories that I’m not ready to air yet. Some that I’ll probably never let out, so I just chose a version of a few. And I didn’t feel disengenuous at all. Reading this, I’m even more sure I made the right choice.

  • Absolutely beautiful. The vulgar, wild, lavish grace of God. Yes, yes, and yes. xox

  • Allison

    I can’t get over this. In all of the Internet I keep coming here to reread these words. Thank you for this beautiful gift.

  • Sharon O

    Totally beautiful, your gifted words are like a present to unwrap and envision. I could see ‘the images’ and rejoince with them. You do need to continue to write you are a blessing to others and most of all to God.

  • Kim

    Sarah, thanks for this fresh look at why we gather and for confirmation about holding some things for just me and Jesus. Your words are beautiful. What you notice, even more so.

  • Kate

    How beautifully written Sarah. Thank you. The Word of God is enough, always. But yet I seem to have a very good ability to forget this. Kate

  • Jillie

    Oh Sarah…this is just too beautiful. Don’t ever stop writing…you have so much to say to us. Your church sounds absolutely amazing! Free! And glorious!
    From one whose feet also smell so much of this earthly sod, I give thanks for those who realize their’s do too. So much I do not tell to others. Still carry shame, try as I might to get shed of it. Sometimes wish for a ‘Jesus-with-skin-on” that I can spill the load to…and still have them love me. Like He does. I believe healing comes through the spilling-out. But I know what I am…and so does He. Yet He loves me.

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