When my heart is carrying a load of pain, I find it hard to feel God’s presence. I can go days, weeks or months without turning to Scripture or prayer, but as soon as pain hits, I race back to where I know I can be reminded of God’s presence. Because I know I won’t make it through without Him.
One place I race back to is the music of Audrey Assad. During happy days her assurance of God’s presence feels so easy to sing along with. But when the hurt hits, my oh my, does she know just how to sing me back into God’s arms. If you know her music, you know what I’m talking about.
Here’s a lyric that’s been especially meaningful to me recently. It’s a simple line from her song “Carry Me” on the album The House You’re Building:
I choose to believe as I carry this cross, you’ll carry me.
How I needed to hear that. Her faith strengthened mine and I know that’s how God intends it. He calls us into community so that when one of us is lost in a forest of pain, to use Audrey’s image from “Carry Me”, we do not have to wander through the dark woods alone. I just love that and I believe it’s true!
… hope is not about assurance at all… but rather the quiet choice of the will in every season to believe in the Goodness from which all things emerge and in which all things are being reborn.
When I shared this with Audrey in an email, I asked her if finding assurance had been important to her on her spiritual journey. Here’s what she told me:
“I have been really open on my social media and in public talks about my journey through living varying degrees of atheism, and even a brief season of nihilism that I explored years ago, and at this point I am Catholic and religious ‘by the skin of my teeth.’ I wouldn’t wish to characterize myself as someone who people look to for assurance of God’s presence, because I don’t have much of that and haven’t for a very long time. I have come to believe that hope is not about assurance at all, even in the darkest times of life, but rather the quiet choice of the will in every season to believe in the Goodness from which all things emerge and in which all things are being reborn.”
How good it is to be reminded that Christian hope is a choice, “the conviction of things not seen.”
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Our weekly newsletter creates a space to take a breath. Once we slow down, we can see the way desire, imitation, and conflict operate in our lives and in the world, and begin to create peace.
It gives me great pleasure to tell you that we have awarded the 2019 Raven Award for Excellence in Arts and Entertainment to Audrey Assad. We are delighted that she will be accepting the award at our first annual Collaborators Conference for the Flourishing of Nonviolent Christianity in her hometown of Nashville, TN.
The gathering will be a mixed bag of churched and unchurched people representing all points on the spectrum of faith and doubt. But all of us share a deep intuition that our God is a God of love and mercy and we are searching for what it looks like to live that conviction in our daily lives.
On her most recent album, Evergreen, Audrey sings of the God we long to know and embody more deeply. The song is called, “Deliverer”.
You are not possessive, you respect all things.
You are not invasive, you have no envy.
You are not insistent, you do not force me.
You are not controlling, you make me free indeed.
This is the God we worship and the people we hope to be. If you would like to join the Collaborators Conference and help us celebrate Audrey Assad, you can find more information and register here. And please congratulate Audrey on the award – my guess is that she’d love to hear from you!