Monday, April 20, 2009

In It After All

After Dad’s death, Mom and I took great comfort in the astounding voice and songs of Larnelle Harris.

We had only recently discovered Larnelle - exactly how I don’t remember - and found his ministry to be unique and fitting for the trials we were personally experiencing. His songs were rich in theology, yet perfectly conveyed the emotion, the passion, essential to worship.

I can’t tell you how many times the two of us would sing through one side and then another of Larnelle’s tapes in the car. We knew every verse, every word, and every note on every tape we possessed.

One of our favorites was “In It After All.” This particular song gave us hope God was working for His - and our - good through the immense pain and suffering we were enduring over the unexpected loss of a wonderful husband and father.

Often, we would refer to the words in the song (I’ve edited for length):

So You were in it after all
All of those moments I spent crying
When something inside of me was dying

I didn't know that You heard me each time I called
You had a reason for those trials
It seems I grew stronger every mile
Now I know You were in it after all

We're always ready Lord to take the glory
But we're seldom willing to endure the pain
You were with me when the sun was shining
And You were still beside me when it rained

So You were in it after all
Taking the blows that I'd been given
Mending the wounds that needed mending
I didn't know that You heard me each time I called

I guess it's easy now to see it,
I don't know how I could have missed it, Jesus
But You were in it after all

Now I know You were in it after all

The words are poignant, of course, but when paired with Larnelle’s velvety voice and stirring music – well, it’s awe inspiring. And heart breaking.

During the days following Dad’s death, I can’t say I confidently knew God was in it. In fact, I struggled mightily with WHY God would take such a godly servant, loving husband, devoted father away from this world – and this daughter – when he was so clearly NEEDED.

Mom, in spite of her agony, never wavered. She had complete faith that “our times are in His hands.” She loved “In It After All,” specifically because it enforced the truth that God is always working – even through the pain.

The song took the view that sometimes it is only in hindsight – and in certain occasions, only in glory – we can see how God was, indeed, involved in all our circumstance, working behind the scenes.

I grew spiritually through those trials and came to love "In It After All" with the same fervor as Mom. I credit the song for making me increasingly aware that God is always working, always evident, even in the minutia of my life.

While I’m not always Johnny-on-the-spot about it, I try very hard not to take blessing for granted. I don’t believe in luck any more than I do the Tooth Fairy.

But I do believe in God.

A year or so ago, we were just starting to experience the budget-crunch that would eventually envelop us. I remember having only $20 in my account. I desperately needed new work shoes, as mine were literally falling off my feet.

I had hit every shop, every sale I could find but failed to find a good, sturdy shoe for under $20. I was extremely frustrated.

On my way home, I stopped by Kohl’s to look for shoes. I examined the sale racks for sizes 8 ½ -9 but none of the styles were suitable for office attire. Nothing but strappy sandals and gaudy flip-flops (no wonder they were on sale!).

I even went looking for size 10 shoes, thinking I could stuff tissue paper or use cardboard to cover any gaps, if necessary. Still nothing.

I was about to leave when I saw a pair of shoes on the far rack. I was immediately drawn to the style but nearly cried when I saw the size.

Size 11. Way too big for me.

I almost left them there, but something pushed me to at least try them on. I felt ridiculous trying on a pair of clown-sized shoes. But I did it anyway.

Imagine my surprise when the shoes snugly fit around my feet! I couldn’t believe it. I knew I wasn’t a size 11, so I assumed the shoes had simply been mismarked.

I flipped over the shoes to see the price and recognized the expensive brand name. And the price tag. Even at 20% off, the shoes were too expensive for my meager budget.

I started to put them back on the rack when I noticed the sign above the rack, “This rack only! 85% off original price!”

I was dumbstruck. 85% off? Really?

I wish I could say I did the math in my head, but you all know how much I hate math, so instead I whipped out my calculator. A minute or two later, the salesperson was ringing up my size 11, brand name, new shoes for the low, low price of $17.50.

I was elated and did a happy dance on my way back to the car. I thanked God immediately, having no doubt He arranged it all, and headed home to show Brett my new bargain.

The shoes have served me well this past year. I call them my “miracle shoes,” and wear them ALL the time.

The other day, my co-worker stopped in to see how I was feeling. We were talking about common pregnancy symptoms, and she asked if my feet had started to swell.

“Just a little,” I told her.

“That’s too bad,” she said. “Now, you’ll have to get new shoes.”

I looked down at my feet and realized a miracle had taken place. The shoes that had fit me perfectly at my 8 ½ - 9 size were now at their full size 11 capacity and easily accommodating my swollen feet.

It struck me at that moment. Over a year ago, God had known I would soon be pregnant. He also knew we would be broke. So, He provided a miraculous pair of shoes that would go the distance.

I wiggled my toes inside my shoes and realized that this was just another instance when He was “in it after all.”

From my miracle shoes to our miracle baby, I revel in what a mighty – and involved – God we serve!

I guess it's easy now to see it,
I don't know how I could have missed it Jesus
But You were in it after all!


Alice said...

That is a great story. And I love Larnelle Harris too. I saw him back in the days when it was still "Friday Night Sing" at Moody instead of "Front Row Live" as it is now...

Ann-Marie said...

When I was there, it was Sunday Night Sing. Front Row Live sounds MUCH cooler. I think I went a total of 5 times, and only then because my friends dragged me. I was too much of a Baptist girl to think all that arm waving was any good!

My, how the times have changed!

The Beard Bunch said...

I love your post. I wish I could see things as clearly when I am going through it as I do in the aftermath. I love your statement:"I revel in what a mighty and involved God we serve." You have been a blessing....thanks :)

Karyn said...

My mom loves Larnelle Harris, as well. And I enjoy his music but enjoy hearing of the L's work in your life even more! Love you.

Jennittia said...

That song has been a fav of mine through the years-- he wrote a new one a couple of year ago called "If not for the storm." I remember playing and replaying that song during my immense trials.

Ann-Marie said...

I should mention that Mom and I both love the song so much...we know one of us had it our wedding, but for the life of us...we can't remember which one!

Juliet said...

I can still remember crying while mowing the yard with those words in my mind.

It seems so weird that Gary and I were talking about your dad last night and how much you miss him.

And I myself don't know whose wedding that song was played either. I'm getting old. What's your excuse?:)

So thankful for Larnelle Harris's ministry to us through his singing.

Love you, Mom

Deb said...

Three more months to go...I can't believe that. In "net" time it seems like you just got pregnant. I'm so excited for you! And your right about our God, He is so amazing. :)