A few weeks ago I was on a plane, and as I normally do I put my headphones on and got ready for a flight of going in and out of sleep mixed with listening to some of my favorite music. The song that came on first was a version of Amazing Grace called Broken Vessels, by Hillsong United. As I was listening, not realizing how loud it was to those around me I felt someone nudge me. A grandmother sitting next to me commented that the song I was listening to was “lovely.” I would wager to say that this is one of the few times in the history of this world that a small older white woman tells a 6’2” black man that the music he is blasting out of his headphones is “lovely.” But situations like this make life fun. We struck up a conversation that ended up with me letting her listen to the song through my headphones. As she began to listen I watched her rock back and forth and then start to hum to herself. Then she began to sing softly, slowly getting louder and louder. Now people sitting near us begin to look around and look back at this woman singing out Amazing Grace in the back row of the plane. It may sound like a really sweet story, but if I were to be completely honest, it was a little embarrassing.
Why was I embarrassed? Because people were looking at us, people were looking at me, maybe even associating me with her. Then it hit me. Why am I embarrassed? This woman is rocking out to Amazing Grace and people are taking notice. This is awesome! And kind of funny! Looking at her sway back and forth with headphones bigger than her head singing and enjoying the moment. She finished the second verse of the song, and gave my headphones back thanking me for letting her listen. We talked a little more, and I gave her and her husband the name of the song and how to find it. She went on reading her book, and I escaped back into my world of music as the flight went on.
The whole rest of the flight I couldn’t get out of my head and my conscience of why I was so embarrassed. What was wrong with me? I’m so quick to lean into God and talk about God when I am in a safe place, but the moment I feel a little uneasy or feel like I am being judged, I panic—thinking I am a solider for Christ, but like Peter finding myself, in a moment, ready to deny at the first sign of trouble.
I despised the glaring evidence that I am nowhere near where I think I should be in my faith. That moment magnified my brokenness and my inadequacy. But God doesn’t see it like that. He sees a son or daughter whom He loves, and simply wants them to trust and follow Him. Whether we falter or succeed, His love never changes for us. But we can’t fully comprehend what He has done for us, until we realize how much we truly need Him. Once we can sit in our brokenness and understand our desperate need for God, only then can we see and love the world through His eyes. That woman sitting next to me was so precious, and I can’t thank her enough for that experience. But I wouldn’t have realized the beauty in her or that moment, until I could look at myself with sober judgement. Only then could I see God in her, and her in God’s eyes—then and only then, am I truly ready to be used by God and live my life for Him.
My favorite part of that song goes as follows:
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost
But now I’m found
Was blind but now I see
Oh I can see it now
Oh I can see the love in Your eyes
Laying yourself down
Raising up the broken to life
Photo by Jordan McQueen / Unsplash.com