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Twilight comes, and she’s a bright star, throwing light so stunning I can hardly look away.

There’s a Hebrew word for praise, a primitive root, that also means to flash forth light, and since we arrived in the ampitheater and the music floated out and up, she has shone, spreading her fingers wide, offering up her heart.  I feel her studying me, watching, and then I look over to find her practicing my abandon, a smile spreading warm across her cheeks, sparking in her eyes.  When she sees me looking, her joy escapes, giddy laughter floating high and free with the notes.

And she sings, she whom God alone has brought so far,

God, whatever comes my way, I will trust you.

I think of her waking me early, startling me out of sleep. In the still, black dark I hear her voice. “Mom?”

“Morning, Sweet Girl.” I feel her but can’t yet see her. Just like that, I know she suddenly can’t speak.

“Riley?” Silence. Black, dark, silence. But she is there beside the bed, suddenly wobbly.

“Riley.” I jerk up, snapping on the lamp. But with the light, she’s returns. Her pupils are wide o’s, and she blinks slowly, smacking her lips together.

“Are you okay?” I ask, reaching for her arm, but she says nothing, just smacks her lips over and over, again and again, like she can’t quite get a bitter taste out of her mouth.

“Riley?”

“Huh?” She speaks slowly, turning her head sideways, because her eyes won’t yet obey when she tries to look at me.

These are the moments that make me feel trapped here, the moments from which I feel as though I can’t escape.  Runaway, run.away.  Sometimes I want to run away.  Maybe you feel it too?  The desire to be free of this place, this prison? Free of heavy?  Free of sick?  Free of sudden and gripping?  Free of the too still, the black, the dark?

So here she is now, here for both of us, throwing light into twilight shadows, reaching toward heaven with one hand, singing.  Here she is showing us the way to make our escape.

God, whatever comes my way, I will trust you.

I am losing my voice. Truly, it will be gone for days.  But I can’t stop singing, and the Truth, the power of it, is far too big, too awesome for my voice.  My arms ache with reaching empty, but my heart brims, certainly not finished.  I catch Riley’s laughter and offer it too, with the singing.  That same Hebrew word, by just a few turns, means to act like a madman.  I think of David, the way he could lose himself in worship; the way he could so wildly pour out his love for God that his wife, watching from the window, felt embarrassed jealousy creeping up her arms.  “Oh, I’ll become so much more undignified than this,” he’d said to her, angry (2 Samuel 6: 22).  Worship in Spirit and in Truth isn’t starched and dignified.  It isn’t polished and bound in neat rows.  True worship is the heart cry of the messy, the imperfect, the undignified, the imprisoned, the sick, the wrong-ones redeemed.  It is the wild outpouring of those who know just how much they have been forgiven.

I watch my unbound daughter worship, so free, and I think of Paul and Silas, naked and bleeding, chained and body-weary, praising God while their feet cramp in stocks in a dark, stinking prison (Acts 16).  They lost their minds.  It was as though they couldn’t see the chains, couldn’t feel the blood oozing from their backs.  They sat in the middle of ugly and hurting and desperate and gave their minds, their hearts, their bodies, yes even their circumstances, right up to God.  They were madmen lifting voices in crazy, undignified worship.  They were light throwers, destroying shadows.  And they offered the same Love, the same Truth, if not the same words:

God, whatever comes my way, I will trust you.

Before those bars ever swung open, Paul and Silas made their escape.

Worship is the clear recognition that our lives rest in the scarred palm of One who loved us enough to die, One raised.  It is the bold proclamation that no earthly prison can hold an eternal soul, not even the still, dirt-dark decay of a grave.  And if Paul and Silas can worship in a prison, I can worship in an ampitheater, in a minivan, in the kitchen with my hands in the sink, and I can worship in the still, black dark, when my daughter has lost her voice and her mind and is fighting to find her way back.

God, whatever comes my way, I will trust you.

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