The final sweet drops of the hymns of old are rung out over the thirsty people. Some wear umbrellas to shield the words from soaking skin and soul, while others tilt their head toward the sky with open mouths to absorb them fully. Still others kneel , knees touching solid ground while their hearts yearn to touch the intangible.
And then, there am I.
Oh, For A Thousand Tongues to Sing my Great Redeemer’s Praise.
Somewhere between the closed off umbrellas and the open arms and mouths, I stand. I’m neither hiding nor seeking, but wondering if the rain really isn’t a drought, and my heart really a desert, because the rain doesn’t seem to touch me. Had I a thousand tongues, would I use them to praise a God whose whisper I cannot feel?
While it rains in this room, I’m all dried up, and that sun presses down so strongly. There is no rain here, in this corner of my soul that I’m trapped in. Here, there is only sun. Endless sun, of frustration and anxiety, and the seeds of faith are wilting. Oh, that rain would fall in here.
The drops keep falling, and the people sing.
Jesus, the name that calms our fears
That bids our sorrows cease
‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears
‘Tis life, and health, and peace
If only I were certain. If only I were sure that I could be forgiven. If only I could dig myself out of sorrows and remain in my own control. I look down at the hands that could not have been made by accident, and I doubt. That sun scorches hope. And there is no music in my ears, only the pounding of uncertainty.
The thirsty people walk forward, as they do every week, to drink from the cup and eat the bread. They are bound to deserts of their own, they know that. And so I follow, wearing like a shackle both doubt and the knowing that, deep down, I know.
The sun is strong, and I am so thirsty.
He speaks, and listening to His voice
New Life, the dead receive
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice
The humble poor believe
I’ve done my research. I’ve studied with the best of them. I know that I know that it’s just what makes sense. There were times, in wetter seasons, when I wondered how I could ever not know. But what my head believes is harder for my heart, because my head’s above the clouds and my heart is where the sun scorches.
I’ve seen the reasons. Even in doubt, I am scared, because I know there is more. But I so love control of the boxed in life, so love to rule what is out of my control as out of possible existence.
Could a God who gives such blatant evidence forgive such an obtuse heart?
I move forward, and, deep in sin, take from the bread and cup.
I felt my Lord’s atoning blood
Close to my soul applied
Me, me, he loved, the Son of God!
For me, for me, he died!
These thirsty people, and I, we’re all the same. Each bound to our deserts, each thirsty for water, and each digging wells in the sand.
Each pursued, and each forgiven. Each blemish in the open and openly wiped clean. For each, His life given, each being made whole, each being watered in drops and in oceans.
Hear him, you deaf, and praise ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ
Ye blind, behold, your Savior come,
And leap, you lame, for joy
And so, again, I let go of control, release doubt into the sky. The love, the evidence, the grace, all more real than my doubt, hold me close and assure me of what my heart most needs to know.
I feel the drops, coming fast and steady. All us thirsty people have a place at this table. All forgiven, all reborn.
In Christ, your head, you then shall know
Shall feel your sins forgiven
Anticipate your heaven below
And know that love is heaven
It is pouring. And we are quenched.
Oh, for a thousand tongues.