On a rainy day in November, a good friend took me with her to see Straight No Chaser at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. We both sat on the edge of our seats in excitement, hoping they would sing their famous Christmas tune, 12 Days of Christmas Medley. We weren’t sure if they would sing it due to the fact that it wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet, but we were ready to go home happy when they did!
I am glad we didn’t leave after our moment of Christmas bliss, however, because what followed chilled me to my core.
After the final song, the audience continued to clap and “woo,” leading the guys to come back out on stage for one more number. They began the encore with soothing hums, as if their vocal cords were made of strings. Though the harmonies sounded familiar, it wasn’t until the first words slipped from Jerome Collins’ lips that I knew what I was about to hear.
When the rain is blowing in your face, And the whole world is on your case, I could offer you a warm embrace, To make you feel my love.
Ever since the first time I heard Bob Dylan’s raspy voice singing these words with such soul and meaning, I fell in love with Make You Feel My Love. Almost as quickly as I heard it, I knew it was the song I wanted to dance to at my wedding, because I felt like that was the way I wanted to love and be loved by the person I would marry.
But, that night, as Straight No Chaser sang the beautiful melody, my heart hung on every word and tears welled up in my eyes. I wasn’t, as you might imagine, thinking of the future that this song had meant to me before. My mind and heart were more actively engaged in the present moment and the overwhelming love that embraced me.
When the evening shadows and the stars appear, And there’s no one there to dry your tears, I could hold you for a million years, To make you feel my love.
Recently, I’ve shared about my propensity towards beating myself up and getting down on myself for perceived failures. I’ve also allowed the criticisms of others to cast a shadow over who am I and who I was created to be.
In that moment in November, I felt the weight of tears waiting to come out. I sat in the auditorium pained by the words of fair weather friends, struggling to dry myself off from the rain of hurt and defeat. Tears of heartbreak welled to the surface of my eyes, searching for the love the band sang about.
I’d go hungry, I’d go black and blue, I’d go crawling down the avenue. No, there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do, To make you feel my love.
Before I knew it, the tears in my eyes brought a lightness to my heart, and I realized something. Right now, in this moment, I have the love the band sings about. A love that would go hungry, that would survive bruises and beatings so that I would feel whole.
I have that love. I have a love, that even now, in the season of Lent, walks to Jerusalem for me. I have a love that crawls to the cross, scraped and bruised, for me. I have a love that cries out to his Creator to forgive me for my ignorance – for my willful ignorance of his care and compassion for me.
The storms are raging on the rolling sea, And on the highway of regrets. The winds of change are blowing wild and free. You ain’t seen nothing like me yet.
This love, this Savior, surpasses all my wildest dreams of what love means. He embraces my pain, holds me in the moments of regrets, and silently breathes new life into my spirit.
Best of all, Jesus walks with me. With me. Through valleys. Over mountains. Across meadows. He walks with me throughs storms and sunshine. He holds me close and whispers, “[I] can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! [I do] it not by pushing [you] around but by working within [you, my] Spirit deeply and gently within [you.]” (Ephesians 3:20, The Message)
I could make you happy, make your dreams come true. There’s nothing that I would not do, Go to the ends of the Earth for you. To make you feel my love.
My Spirit woke in that theater to the power of these words. God does not leave us alone. God stands with us. God runs to us. God patiently waits for us. All so that we may know we are loved.
The song ended, and I wiped tears from my eyes, but not because I was sad. I wiped tears from my eyes, because I was overwhelmed by the thought that this love surrounded me all my life, and I kept searching for it everywhere else.
I wiped tears from my eyes, because I knew that God stood ready to join me in my pain, opening my eyes to the potential before me.
I wiped tears from my eyes, because my heart found rest in the love that is infinitely more abundant that I could dream or imagine (paraphrase from Ephesians 3:20).
I know you haven’t made your mind up yet, But I would never do you wrong. I’ve known it from the moment that we met, No doubt in my mind where you belong.
And, today, during this season of reflection, I journey with Christ to the cross, knowing that I am where I belong and I am loved.
To make you feel my love.