A Sunday Morning Council

In which brainwashing is revealed, a control freak acknowledges that her best friend is too sick for her to heal, the Spirit drowns out the preacher, and eyes leak salt water.


I had almost forgotten that it was council meeting morning.  As a rule, I try to live my life in such a way that I can testify to peace with God and man any day.  Therefore, it doesn’t really matter if this is the Sunday or not.  At my church, we have council meeting followed by communion two weeks later.  This happens twice a year.

Yet as I jotted down notes from the devotional, I had to ask myself, “Am I at peace?” I truly believed so.  But there has been much weighing on the mind, so much out of my control.

“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well, with my soul.'”

I knew this, but in the raw, it hasn’t come easy.

While I wrote about the culture and lessons learned in Cambodia,  I received e-mails from one of my closest friends back home.  She had her appointment and received a diagnosis that didn’t surprise me.  I had been watching the illness take its toll, even as she wanted to deny its presence.  (I would not want to acknowledge it in her shoes.)  Then she writes back later, that she is doing a lot better now, at least now her heart beats like it should.

Only then do I realize that I could have lost her.

This girl who swam for hours and scarfed down burnt marshmallows with me.  The friend that found my heart, even as we made our high school yearbook.  I made a page, and she made it better.  This is her greatest gift, taking others unfinished pieces, polishing them into masterpieces, then stepping out of the picture.

We both have three sister, two brothers, a love of writing and good music.  We both head for the serious side of life in any conversation and expect too much perfection from ourselves.

She is the woman who listens to my words and hears my heart.  She speaks wisdom from above, because she hungers for the heart of God.

This friend.  Why?  God asks me, “If I would take her away, would you still love me?” And I would.  I do.

Fortunately, He has allowed me to keep this gift, and I hardly know how to hold it.  How do I be her friend, when I can do nothing to fix it?

Then the song leader rises and takes us to the page.  I can’t sing.  I can only believe that the Spirit, Who is in my heart led him to this page. “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well, with my soul.'”  My eyes leak slow tears. Then I can join, “And, Lord haste the day, when my faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll.  The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend, praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Oh my soul!”

We sit down.  The preacher speaks on redemption, and I write references.  I consider the last couple weeks.  God gave my classroom helper two last-minute openings, and now she has had the surgery that will hopefully bring permanent healing.  I am left with a whirlwind of change, all out of my control.  God has it going so well, but I still feel helpless.  I try to lean back, enjoy the ride, not worry about what’s coming.  I am so blessed, but surrendering perfection is like removing a tumor from my heart.

I pray without words, and praise God for His control.  Then I recall the song I’ve been singing so much this year.  Our youth group started practicing it back in January, sang it on tour in April and May.  Then, I practiced it for a wedding that took place a little over a week ago.  It is no coincidence that this song has been repeated.

They say that if you say something often enough, you will believe it.  God knew I would need this truth.

“You Are God Alone” (Philips, Craig, and Dean)
You are not a God created by human hands,
You are not a God dependent on any mortal man,
You are not a God in need of anything we can give,
By Your plan that’s just the way it is.
You’re the only God, Whose power none can contend,
You’re the only God, Whose name and praise will never end,
You’re the only God Whose worthy of everything we can give,
You are God that’s just the way it is.
You are God alone, even before time began,
You were on Your throne, You were God alone,
And right now, in the good times and bad,
You are on Your throne.  You are God alone.
Unchangeable, unshakeable, unstoppable,
That`s what You are.
Unchangeable, unshakeable, unstoppable,
That`s what You are.
You are God alone.

And only this God, would wash the brain of his daughter with the words of song, giving her the truth she will need every day of her life.  Only this God could arrange it to come before she knows she will need them.  Then she most realizes that she needs Him.

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