{expedition} · {soundtrack} · {storying}

{ punctuate : expedition }

On March 13, I drove to Minneapolis for a long weekend. It’s only seven and a half hours away, and some of my dearest family members, a bestie, and lots of childhood memories all inhabit that city; so, when I found out that Sara Groves, Brandon Heath, and Jenny & Tyler would be playing a show together there as part of their Art/Music/Justice Tour, I made plans for a visit.

As I’ve mentioned before, Sara Groves is one of the music artists that God has used most over the last fifteen years to speak into my life and help me process the various seasons and experiences in my journey of faith and healing. Since she doesn’t do much touring anymore, and since I’ve never seen her live, this felt like a unique opportunity, one I might not get again. On top of that, the tour is to raise awareness and support for International Justice Mission, an organization that I adore and whose purpose has always been one that has moved me deeply.

Since the AMJ concert was that Sunday night, I drove home from Minneapolis on Monday, May 16. As I got on the highway mid-morning, I began battling unexplained anxiety. It was powerful enough that it scared me, and it was intensified by the thought that I had seven hours of driving ahead of me through states where I knew no one and had no access to help or reprieve if I needed it. I was employing every technique I knew of to try and relieve it, but when it became clear that it was not going away, I asked my friend Jenni to pray for me, because no matter the cause, I needed to not have panic attacks while driving and it seemed divine intervention was going to be necessary to prevent that.

As has become clear on this blog, music is very soothing for me, so about a half hour after requesting prayer from Jenni, I decided to try that. Since I’d just seen Sara Groves sing the night before and her music was fresh on my mind, I put in Floodplain. I listened and sang and prayed and breathed through eight songs. Then song number nine began (“I Feel the Love Between Us“), and as it blasted through my speakers, the anxiety started melting away:

Baby this isn’t like young love
No, this is like an underground river
Flowing over iron and iron
Shaping all the takers and givers
I feel the love between us

Love is a diamond
Hidden in mountains
Covered in danger and dirt
I’m on the outside
Digging and digging
I’ve seen and I know what it’s worth

I know it may sound crazy, but I promise that God really does have an actual voice, and I have heard it many times in my life. This time was no exception: while Sara was singing to her husband, I heard Pops loud and clear speaking indescribable love straight into the deepest part of me. As the anxiety quieted, the tears started flowing. (Side note: Later in the trip, I let Jenni know how this song had eased the anxiety, and she informed me that her prayer when I first asked for it had been that Pops would comfort me through music. Praise the Lord for his specific answers and His tender care!) I put the song on repeat and listened to it all the way home and for the next several days. The idea that the love and relationship that I have with God has deepened so over the years was incredibly comforting, but the image of digging for something so rare and valuable that the danger and dirt become inconsequential was what resonated most powerfully. In fact, it felt almost as if the communication to me of how deep and strong and valuable the love between us is was Pops’s way of preparing me for something. Since I had no idea what that something was, I just spent those days listening and asking, over and over again.

After a few days, I knew we were done with that song; I took it off repeat and let the album play on to the end and then start over again. As I listened to the second song on the album, “Expedition,” Pops started whispering again. I put it on repeat, and just kept listening until the whispers became a distinct message. I have no idea what the ramifications are, but it was clear that Pops was repeating the lyrics back to me, specifically in reference to this journey we’ve been on and what is coming next, a question I have slowly started asking Him again.

So meet me at the river, oh
I’ve fashioned us a raft and oar
We’re going on an expedition
We’re looking for lost time
And it will take days and days
And it might be extravagant and wasteful
We’ll be gone as long as it takes
Looking for lost time

On May 3, I met with my therapist for the first time since Christmas, when she started her maternity leave (Yea!! Baby!!!). I enjoyed the break from therapy, but by the time I found myself finally back on that couch again at the beginning of May, I was ready to be back. Two weeks after that, just a few days after our second session, Pops made it clear through this song that we are coming out of rest and reprieve and headed into expedition mode. My short story, “Expedition,” is my attempt to express that internal conversation between Pops and me and where I find myself at this stage in the journey.

I have no idea what it means to look for lost time or what I’m headed into in order to do so. I have no doubt that it will be hard at times. I also, for the first time ever in my life, have no doubt that it’s going to be okay, that I am going to be okay. No matter what this all means, no matter what it requires of me, for the first time in my life I do not feel like I am doing any of it alone. That single realization is enough for me to state that as long as I am on the raft with Pops, I almost don’t even care what it requires of me or what I may have to walk into or through. Being with Him is all that matters, and if those are the places He’s headed, then those are the places I’m headed also. Trust me, I do not say that flippantly, nor do I say it without a little trepidation; even still, it is the truest thing I have to say right now.

In her song “Floodplain,” Sara Groves sings about how living on the floodplain keeps us closer to the life and also closer to the danger of the river’s currents, “closer to that’s the way it goes” and “closer to Lord please send a boat.” In “Expedition,” He sent the boat: it looks like a raft. He’s the one with the map and the oar, and I’m the one waiting and watching attentively.

Don’t mind us. We’re just over here looking for lost time.

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