October 3, 2012
I’m a fan of modern music, especially when I’m worshipping. The more David Crowder-dy a song is, the better. Throw in some Lecrae and I’m really happy. There are times in my life, though, when my mind blows the dust off of the older hymns that I hold close to my heart and reminds me of the roots of Gospel music.
Yesterday, as I wandered around campus, my lips moved unconsciously to the old melody “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”. I think they were reminding my mind of what my heart knows deep in itself to be true.
When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale My anchor holds within the veil.
This past weekend has been one of the tougher ones my family has gone through together in my lifetime. We lost an uncle, a brother, a son, a father, a husband, a cousin, a friend. And that’s just what he was to my family. Eddie Potts was so much to so many people. Aside from running all sound at church and bearing a lot of the workload on our family farm on top of his own job, he was the most loyal pit crew boss Heritage High School has ever seen, taking care of not only our equipment and trailers, but of our band directors and teenagers. He took an interest in the kids in the band. He danced alongside flag girls during post games. I always held on to an ounce of pride as I watched him interact with my fellow band and dance members, knowing that he cared for all of them but knowing that only I could actually claim him as mine.
Of course, I was wrong, and that became obvious on Sunday as we greeted people from 2pm-9pm with barely a 30-minute break for the family to eat. The largest crowd Scot Ward Funeral Home had ever seen for a visitation, or so I hear. This entire community has claimed a little bit of Eddie as their own, because his heart was big enough to share.
I went and spent some time sitting in the hay field behind Eddie’s house Monday morning before the funeral. The field where he passed away doing what he loved- hauling hay, taking care of the farm. I knew it would be a long day full of people and emotions and so I decided to spend some alone time seeking the Lord, gathering what strength and courage I could for the day. It was difficult for me to find that, especially as the dark sky continued to pour out rain on me and the field that held so much pain at the moment.
I finally asked the questions I had been pretending I didn’t have. Why Eddie? After spending about a year of getting phone calls with bad news about my dad, I didn’t feel I had fair warning to receive a phone call about my uncle. The youngest man on the farm. Why does my cousin, who I’ve always viewed more as a little brother, suddenly have to grow several years older in a few days? Why does he suddenly have to be a 15-year old man who is missing his best friend? Why do my grandparents have to bury their child?
I sat and asked a lot of these questions and more as I picked at the grass of the farm that has been my anchor for 20 years. Ground that seemed to be sinking beneath me in the midst of the rain that morning.
His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
I was right. The funeral was hard. There were a lot of people. There were more emotions from some of the strongest people I’ve known in my life than I’d ever encountered and it was a lot to take in. But even that wasn’t what overwhelmed us during that day. We did not give in to our pain or our sorrow. Instead, we as a family and as a congregation, gave in whole-heartedly to the praise and glory of Jesus Christ as the men of our church sang one of the most moving songs I’d ever heard from them. As they belted out “It is finished. Jesus is Lord“, one person stood. And then another. And then a section. Until the entire church was on its feet, hands in the air, tears and all. Worshipping our Creator who gives and takes away. Who is good all the time and who is going to be our support through this dark night. We were able to stand and praise the Lord in the midst of our sadness because we are Eddie’s family. And we know that Eddie Potts loved the Lord and is now worshipping the Lord, and so we can join him in that. I like to imagine Eddie working Heaven’s soundbooth at that moment, turning up the the voices of every person in that church so that all of Heaven could join in our song.
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
Do not mistake me and think that this made this easy. And don’t let me fool you into thinking that I didn’t have some trust issues to work out with God. Sometimes I think a deeper understanding comes when we allow ourselves to be honest about those. I spent the day Tuesday fuming at God for allowing more pain. I spent a lot of tough moments dwelling on new fears that this has introduced.
But after my car conveniently broke down for good when I was barely half-way back to Athens, I began singing these words to myself. Over and over. The car would’ve been a bigger issue had all the family stuff not going been going on. But because my sights were higher, I wasn’t all that concerned about my car. If my sights were set on heavenly things, and not on earthly things, then I would realize that even this present suffering from loss is not truly a concern. I think that’s what Eddie would tell me right now if he had the chance. Because his sights are set on the Solid Rock and nothing will ever deter him from that again. He has reached the highest point and seen the glory of Jesus Christ. And one day, we will too. And this present suffering will become sinking sand as it falls away and leaves us standing on the Solid Rock of Jesus Christ.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.