I know it’s hard to imagine a weather report being inaccurate, but it was especially this day. Dressed for cool, but back-dripping heat, my friend Linda and I continued to climb the hill where I knew an old church once stood. Whether it’s an abandoned barn, house, or business, if I can get inside, I unpack nostalgia and let my thoughts walk in wonder back through time.
As we rounded a bend, there it was. The chapel’s windows were now broken and boards showed their age, but I knew the inside would still be the same. We hiked through the brush, swatted at gnats, and made our way to the Methodist church built so many years ago. My friend sauntered around the pews and up to the pulpit, while I retreated historically to imagine the lives that looked through these windows, sang hymns that reverberated of the paneled walls, and listened to shadows of sermons that echoed long ago.
Since I was raised in Kentucky, I have many memories of visiting old country churches. Somehow, the boards seemed to creak the same, the pews felt just as hard, the hymnals just as dog-eared, and the fragrance of the past filled the air. I wished my camera could capture it, but the soul takes pictures that include the senses and nothing can display it all.
A couple of weeks later, I looked at the few shots I took and relived the visit. I thought about my childhood churches and how far I drifted for too many years, loathing the conviction of the cross. I had a head full of VBS songs and Sunday School verses, but I was living my days in sin and nights at bars, parties, or doing things Christ had to die for. Thank God, literally, for His extensive mercy that wrestled with me the years I justified myself. His grace and truth jumped over my walls of self-defense until I was faced with a personal, but eternal decision at a stoplight. Every day that passes, has more of my gratitude for the day He allowed me to turn and run back to the arms I leaped out of. And though this is a simple poem that came, the Lord knows the history behind it and the love for Him because of it.
No one knows how far you’ve come
The battles fought
Or victories won.
No one sees the wounds of soul
Or heard your cries
That crave console.
No one truly knows the way
You hide from fear
Or pull away.
Until you hear the words of truth
The heart of God
Is drawing you.
He is the One who knows how far
You’ve run from Him
And bears the scar.
His wounds and blood He shed for you
Of love that’s true.
So turn your eyes back up again
Repent in heart
Be free from sin.
Return to Him, restore true peace
Where faith was born
Your souls relief.
When love for Him you sung aloud
Not just in church
But in a crowd.
Remember when your mind did rest
Your conscience free
And soul at rest.
For no one knows how far you’ve come
How far you’ve gone
His hand outstretched…for your return.
“So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20