I had the occasion last year to run into a group of businessmen who had been stationed here by their company to work for a few years. Every single one of them commented on how much they were shocked - shocked! They loved OKC. They loved the layout, the friendliness, the Thunder, the cool things to do. One of the reasons it seemed they were so surprised is because they had had such low expectations. So we could only go up from how terrible they had imagined it to be.
It's a cool place with a ton of opportunities. We're getting publicity from magazine, websites and television. We're newsworthy in sports, trends and business. We're building towers. We're creating neighborhoods.
But just like anywhere and everywhere, there is also so much sadness.
One of the songs that has captured my heart lately is this one by Thad Cockrell called Rosalyn. Give it a listen.
When I heard it the first time, I sat there weeping in my seat twenty rows back from where he was singing. I couldn't hold it in. I sobbed at the honest cry for help and hope.
I was thinking about the woman in front of me whose husband has left her. What is she going to do? With her kids and life? How does she know any love? Does she? Where in the world is God in that?
I was thinking about my friends moving and how stressful and exciting that is. I was thinking about the pain of infertility and how so many I know can't conceive children. Some adopt. Some don't. Some lean into the pain. Some run the other way.
I was thinking about dreams that go unfulfilled - a new business, a promotion, a recommendation, a vacation. They may seem small but they chip away at our hope and confidence.
I was thinking about my friends who have lost a son, lost a brother and how his birthday will keep coming every year but he won't be here. Another birthday, another Christmas, another holiday of loss and mourning.
I was thinking about how many unhappy people I know. Some are lonely in their own homes and in their own beds. There are ongoing arguments and new fights, rifts that don't feel like they can ever be mended.
I felt sad and burdened and I felt the weight of my own hopelessness too. That I can't make it. That I can't generate enough hope for everyone and I can't myself. So as Thad sang to Rosalyn, he was singing to me there in the church pew. I hadn't expected it and I'm not sure I wanted it. But he said, "Don’t you know the sun will shine on you again No matter how small the flame against the darkness don’t you know the light will win."
Rosalyn. Doug. The Church. Oklahoma City? Against the darkness don't you know the light will win?
The whole breakthrough of Jesus is about this very thing. I think I needed Thad to sing to me about Rosalyn because that's who I am too. It was that Christmas song at that concert on that day that struck my heart, and I was reminded that God is close and real and speaking and breaking into the darkness with something small yet powerful. He was reminding me of new love, answered prayers, the miracle of birth and life, of rest and rejuvenation, of a land of new wine, of a party where all are invited, of a place and day and a time when all is set right and God is there in his love. There is love. There is love. And a little more hope because of that little flame, that light in the darkness that is just enough to keep us going and a picture of so so much more.
City Presbyterian Church, Oklahoma City