We arrived late. Near the end of the second song.
They arrived later. After the first prayer.
They sat one section over from us. A few rows further up so they were directly in my line of sight.
My eyes don’t typically wander during the music. It’s the time I use to center myself after the mayhem of getting the family to church by 9 am on Sunday morning.
But something drew my eyes away on this morning.
An older couple. Younger than my parents but older than Bray and I. No kids in the pew with them. So, if they had kids, I assumed they were grown. I’ve seen them for years but don’t know them. Simply attired. Nothing trendy or fancy on either husband or wife.
As a new song began to play, I saw him encircle his right arm around her completely. He reached across her back until he had her right arm which he gripped with what looked like love and compassion. Almost as if his arm was there to hold her up.
You don’t belittle our pain and our suffering
And You comfort us in our greatest unraveling
Jesus, my Jesus
She didn’t sing. She bit her lip and I couldn’t see the tears from my vantage point but I knew they were there. He rubbed her arm and held it tighter.
It went on that way. We sat for the offering and then one more song before the sermon.
If the stars were made to worship so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
He holding on to her. She standing there. Brave and silent. I don’t know what was happening in their lives, but it felt like she was biting her mouth to keep from utterly unraveling.
The words on the screen blurred before my own eyes as I watched the two of them.
I don’t often have a visual image of what love looks like. Of what faith looks like.
This was it.
He was love.
She was faith.
You wouldn’t notice him if you passed him on the street. He wasn’t tall or fit or oozing charisma. I don’t know how long they’ve been married. Looking at them, you’d think decades. He familiar with her. Knowing the song would be her undoing before it even was. The way he held on to her. Oh. I pray that’s what our marriage looks like as we get older and face bigger heartaches.
Looking at her, simple and unadorned, she looked like the bravest figure of faith on the planet in that moment. A Joan of Arc. I have no idea what she was going through. A child taken or crippling diagnosis or financial calamity. But she stood there. I’ve had seasons where the last thing I would do is come listen to someone talk about the love of God. When I certainly wasn’t feeling His love in a season. Sunday, she couldn’t sing the words. She didn’t try. But she stood there and let them fall over her. While her partner held her up.
The song, Extravagant, that first drew me to their quiet testimony, starts with:
You were a lover before time’s beginning
And you gave Your love freely withholding nothing…
And then it ends:
It’s extravagant, it doesn’t make sense
We’ll never comprehend, the way You love us.
It’s true. But I thought how she must understand better the way her Savior loves her because of how her lover held on to her one Sunday morning.