when you ache with an ordinary life

No, I hadn’t ever heard that song before, never in church and we haven’t had a radio in more than a decade, but I sang it anyways, the words coming from deep down in that part of you that has no words, only pure feelings.

I sang that song with the rest of the congregation, right after the last boy got out of the baptismal tank.

He stood there at the front of the church, dripping. My cheeks were still wet from the happiness that had spilled with the words of his testimony.

He’d given that testimony with such nervousness, his hands shaking, but I had felt his meaning, my chin trembling. Felt his words about a Jesus saving him forever and doing what he couldn’t do because he kept messing up, and about how he wanted to tell the world that he was going to follow Jesus for the rest of his life.

I had hoped my mascara was waterproof. My heart had been shot straight through.

So now I choked out the words of the song, while he dripped and I spilled and Jesus washed us both clean.

I don’t think I could tell you any of the other lines of the song, but I could tell you this. Because this phrase is what hooked me, what I carried with me all day:

“To know You is to ache for more than ordinary.”

I carried those words right to the rim of the earth, right to the water’s edge. I carried those words all Sunday afternoon at the beach.

I began to feel something before I had words for it….




















It’s when the waves crashed up over my toes —then ebbed away…. the moment gone — that the sea in its shimmering silver, washed me awake.

It’s the way the water had splashed and they had laughed. The way their bodies lunged for the ball and I saw their muscles underneath the skin all ripple alive and taut. The way the sea gulls had flown and the sand had laid right out, countless granules, and her one strand had fallen in this tendril and had risen on the wind and I could feel it.

I could feel this: the commonplace is the place of daily miracles. I could feel this: the breathing wonder. That I am even here. The waves crashing in my ears, all through me. This is true: I have felt my heart beat. It does this right now.

I could feel this and the words finally came, and I stood at the water’s lip, the bowl of land upturned and falling away, and I heard the words inside of me, in all the world:

To know God is more than “aching for more than ordinary.” On the plane of God and in the dimension of true reality, there is no ordinary. Ordinary ceases to exist. When we are reborn, we’re drenched with wonder. The day, me, the world, it drips. To know God is to realize there’s no such thing as ordinary and all our ache is only for more of His glory.

That is the name of that pulsing, swelling, beautiful ache I feel at the end of a day like this, the kids all running and him laughing and me awake and smiling: this is the glory-ache.

Who could leave? We only wanted more.

We stayed at the beach to the very end, to watch the sun slip down into water, to witness the baptizing of one routinely extraordinary day.

And I had lingered long at the lighthouse, watching the beacon fall out across waves. Listening to all their voices filling the night air and drifting off to sea.

holy experience

1841. dangling your toes out the truck window on a summer’s drive

1842. peaches on the porch

1843. pink crocks inside the door

1844. french toast on Sunday mornings

1845. gold seeping into the soybean fields, first glance of harvest coming

1846. russet apples picked and polished by Levi

1847. looking up and seeing my mama walking my way

1848. sand-baked feet

1849.  contemplating this book

1850. my Dad saying, “I’m sorry…”

1851. ice cream cones on the beach

1852. musky night air breezing in the open truck window

1853. courage for a new week

1854. underlining “The Knowledge of the Holy” with a red pen, knowing that the Holy underlined my life in His red passion

1854. when I do exactly what I’m made for: offer Him praise and glory and thanks

1855. the last hurrah of summer

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