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April 24, 2020

Heart of My God: A reflection


Heart of My God: A reflection
 
“I rejoice greatly in the Lord that now at last you revived your concern for me. You were, of course, concerned about me but lacked an opportunity. Not that I say this because of need, for I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient. I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me. Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.” –Phil. 4:10–14

I live in Nashville, TN and my parents are three hours away in Birmingham, AL. When the national emergency hit, my high-school-aged sons were on spring break along the Florida Gulf Coast with a family from our church. I needed to go down to Florida to pick them up since the lockdown was coming. I got on I-65, the main highway from Nashville to the Florida Panhandle, and it goes directly through Birmingham. My dad’s health is compromised, and I had recently been on a plane. Because of that, I could be a carrier and not even realize it. Going by their house was too much of risk to take, and my heart ached. I was worried about them. I wanted to see them face to face and do something kind for them, anything. But that wasn’t was what best. So, I continued to drive.

When I got down to Florida, the boys had no idea what was going on around the country, and the family they were with wanted to keep the news from them until I could tell them. They said their goodbyes, and we drove back to Nashville. That’s when I told them.

They couldn’t believe that what I was saying was real, especially after having a great week with friends at the beach. Because they had been around others, they needed to stay away from friends for 14 days. They were not happy. My wife and I made a daily schedule for sanity’s sake. They were not happy. Then we assigned chores. They were really not happy. Well, I wasn’t happy either.

My job is that of an event producer and speaker. When there are no events, there is no job.

As I have tried to get resources into the hands of the youth ministry team at my home parish, I wanted to write some Bible studies that they could do online together. The first place I looked was the Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. I went there because Paul wrote this letter while he was in prison, and I thought I could find something in words that could speak to where I am right now and to where my kids are right now.

My kids just miss their friends. The boys want to go and play basketball in someone’s driveway. The girls want to head to one of the parks nearby and just go for walks with people their age that they care about.

For my wife and me, we want a glimpse into the future to see if we are going to be okay. As of right now, I have no idea if we are going to be okay. But as a Christian, I’m leaning on that passage from Saint Paul, and I’m taking a lot of comfort from a song by Sarah Hart and Kelly Minter.

When I go through tough times, I have a soundtrack that plays in my head. One of those songs has recently been Sarah Hart’s “Heart of My God.” I’m a native of Brookhaven, Mississippi and now live in Nashville. Revivals in country churches, hymn songs and ecumenical prayer services in the Deep South gave me an internal hymnal that rests on the same interior shelf as Glory & Praise, Breaking Bread, and Spirit & Song. I guess that’s why I love the song as much as I do. It sounds like an old southern hymn, but it also conveys what Saint Paul describes. Sarah sings,

“Above my joys, beneath my sorrows,
lives a peace greater than my need.”

The peace that Sarah Hart and Kelly Minter describe is also what Saint Paul found. The deep, deep love of Jesus is the secret to living through the imprisonment that we are in right now. Some of us have had the abundance to pay cash for our children’s tuition, and that same group of people may very well be wondering if they will financially survive this crisis. Some very fit and healthy people have succumbed to the tenacious and violent virus. These are real hardships, and the suffering we are collectively going through should not and cannot be dismissed. Whether wealthy or poor, healthy or infirmed, Saint Paul says the secret is strength that comes to us from the “wide, wide hope of our Savior”. During this time, I am running to the heart of my God.

 

 

Robert Feduccia
Robert Feduccia
 

Robert Feduccia is an inspirational speaker and ministry leader and the former general manager of Spirit & Song. A gifted presenter on liturgical spirituality, he recently expanded his speaking ministry.