Every night after study hall, the students voluntarily gather in the chapel in old t-shirts and gym shorts and bare feet and finish their day with worship and prayer and study. LOUD worship and prayer and study.
To be honest, I've never known that much about what they're doing. By the time we get the girls down and done with the day, I'm in my own old t-shirt and gym shorts, and I'm blogging or watching the Office with the Heckmans or writing thank you cards or grading papers.
As I do, I listen to their songs float around the campus and bounce off the walls. I hum along, try to identify who is leading this evening, and enjoy the nightly sign of His faithfulness to carry us through the day.
But last night? The house was hot and my heart was heavy, and Phida was belting out one of my favorite Haitian praise songs. I pulled a raggedy skirt over my shorts and stepped into the cooler night air, stepped into a billion stars that shine bright and clear over a country without electricity to soften them. I just planned to walk our familiar evening walk around the chapel and campus, but the center of campus was SO exploding with praise....it drew me.
It sounded as if 300 men and women were praising their hearts out, so strong and bold and uninhibited it was.
All the chapel doors were shut, an attempt to minimize our ravenous mosquitos, but blazing out it's windows was a light as loud as the song, shining brightly against the dark night.
...the people who walk in darkness will see a great light. for those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine...
I wanted out of deep darkness to sit in His presence. His presence was pouring out of the chapel.
I cracked open the back door and squinted in, my eyes immediately meeting those of the most tough-skinned, large-and-in-charge female student we have, singing in the back row.
She smiled. I was welcome.
She smiled. I was welcome.
We have chapel services three days a week at 11:30, and everyone is tucked into their appropriate bench, rocking to the music in straight lines.
Not at night. Everyone, everyone was moving everywhere in random circles throughout the chapel as they sang out, swaying, walking, dancing throughout the benches, arms waving like palm branches, heads raised and voices loud. There would be no sitting unnoticed at the back.
So I sat noticed at the back and closed my eyes, surrounded by the worship and prayers of many.
How they prayed as they sang.
Many were singing, many were praying out loud as they walked, praying for dozens of needs I do not understand, dozens of people I do not know, praising for hundreds of His faithfulnesses I know nothing about...some desperate, calling out... some glorious, beaming heavenward... some begging on bended knees on the hard tile, some dancing the dances of David.
It was worship like heaven. Heaven in the middle of a deeply dark and weary world, it was people consumed by being in His presence and nothing else. And I was in the middle, heavy hearted and unable to speak at all.
Not a moment after I entered, Phida wrapped up that familiar praise and started into a melody I have never heard in my life with a strong and steady beat. One by one, all the voices joined her, and everyone's circles became less random as they moved towards the outside of the aisles and started moving, marching in one large powerful circle around the chapel, praising out in one accord...
It is a battle, yes, it is a battle.
My brothers and sisters marched and swayed, arms still lifted, singing out
Today, it is a battle, the world, it is a battle, a battle, a battle
I felt it. I feel it. The battle. My soul was amening wearily with self-sympathy over all these hard battles. Preach it. What a battle.
Then they hit the simple chorus.
Then they hit the simple chorus.
Yes, it is a battle.
But it Is. Not. Mine.
I tell you, the reality of that powerful truth rising loudly and moving around me took my breath away.
Once again, here I am relying on my own efforts, sword drawn, marching into brick walls over and over, getting frustrated, telling Him I am tired, asking for His help. Once again, I am striving and striving and striving. And it is winning me no battles.
Because they weren't mine to start with.
I wish you could draw near the chapel tonight with me.
Do you feel like Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles with me tonight?
Do you feel like a great multitude is coming against you? Pain, suffering, worry, unknowns, insecurity, scars, burdens, fears, insufficiencies, hardships?
Jehoshaphat was afraid, and turned his attention to seek the Lord. Judah gathered together to seek help from the Lord, and Jehoshaphat stood and said,
"O Lord, the God of our Fathers, are You not ruler over the heavens? Are you not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against you. We are powerless before this great multitude coming against us; we know not what to do, but our eyes are on You."
Then, in the midst of the assembly, the Spirit of the Lord came and said,
"Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's. You need not fight. Station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf. Do not fear or be dismayed. Tomorrow, go out and face them, for the Lord is with you."
Join this raggedy barefoot bunch tonight, handing over the end of the day in desperate need and in highest praise. Be afraid, and turn your attention to the Lord, seek Him. Acknowledge with me from the rooftops that power and might are in His hand, that NOTHING can stand against Him. Annou fix our eyes upon Him, knowing not what to do and surrender the battles before we pick them up.
Tomorrow, go out and face them. Station yourself, stand and see the salvation of the Lord.
Today : it is a battle. But it is not ours.