I love to break out into song. I think it’s in my genes. Growing up, my mom made up a song for everything, and whenever I visit my aunt, uncle, and cousins, singing is a respectable, possibly preferred, way of communicating. I sing frequently to my students, and sometimes they will even sing back.
When I picture heaven, I imagine song. Not somber singing. Not our modern praise- and-worship-style singing with the lights dimmed and our eyes closed. I picture a good, old-fashioned, gospel choir belting out their exuberant tune, choir robes a-swaying, hands lifted in jubilation, soulfully singing in beautiful harmonic layers. And the song I imagine is the old traditional gospel chorus of one lyric: “Amen.”
Amen. The simple word to end a prayer. I remember being in Sunday School as a child and my teachers ending their prayer with a call to response, simply stated, “And all God’s people said…” Our little hearts would shout a hearty “Amen!” with glee.
Amen. It is so. Let it be. Whatever we just prayed. May it be so.
As a child, I somehow developed an idea of what “God’s people” looked like. I can tell you my image was pretty straight-laced. I credit a lot of that image to my perfectionist tendencies, as well as to the naive perspective of a child that everything will always turn out alright. That everything and everyone should and would look nice and neat.
Somewhere along the line, God slowly began to open my eyes to the fact that life is pretty darn messy, things do not always turn out as we wish, and we are all in a bad way at some point or another. Brokenness and pain don’t play favorites, and if you live long or love anyone, a disappointment or two (or perhaps a torrent) will blur your vision rather quickly.
I recently sat in a room full of people sharing stories of grief and hurt and trauma, of regrets made and betrayals suffered, and of how Jesus had entered their situations and changed it all. My once-held belief of God’s straight-laced people continued to shrink in my mind. One thought emerged in my heart as I looked around at whom some would call a motley crew: “These are God’s people.”
God’s people are the broken and betrayed, the divorced and widowed, the addicted and the downcast. His people are the OCD and the hapless, the worried and the weary, the straight-laced and the disheveled. Some wear suits and some wear leather biker jackets. Some know their Bibles cover to cover and some couldn’t tell you a thing about what God says, they just know they need Him. Some are the life of the party and some are shyer than a turtle in his shell.
When Jesus came, he said in Luke 4:18,
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed…
God’s People are the poor, the captive, the blind, and the oppressed. God’s people are the rich and the redeemed and the made right.
When it comes to what God’s people say, it’s somewhere along the lines of “Jesus, we need you,” “Help,” and “Please make something of our mess,” followed by a hearty “Amen”…. “Yes, Lord, let it be so.” It’s amazing how well He loves to answer those desperate prayers.
Whatever you have believed about God’s people, just know, you are welcome in this harmony. Your story, your voice, has a place in this chorus of jubilant redemption.
Sing with us.