THE FOLLOWING IS THE FIFTH IN A SERIES OF BLOGS, EACH WRITTEN BY A DIFFERENT MEMBER OF OUR LIVE OAK CHURCH FAMILY.
By Abbey Nobles
If anyone knows my husband Brian and me, they know we love to travel, meet people, eat delicious foods, and tell our experiences through fun and engaging stories. So when we told our friends that we saw, felt, and embraced the glory of God, I’m sure at first they pictured us experiencing this while walking on a crazy Icelandic glacier, or relaxing under the Balinese sunset, or even enjoying the delights of a French vineyard, but that was not the case. In July of 2017 we witnessed one of the most powerful displays of the glory of God either of us had ever experienced.
Recently, Pastor Brian Few did a “Jesus Is” series which defined the different aspects of who Jesus is: the Glory of God, the Creator, Sustainer, Humility, Wisdom, Love, Savior, King, Freedom, and Judge. It is still crazy to me to think that in this one single event, once we saw the glory of God, we stood witness all of the aspects of Jesus Brian talked about. Every. Single. One.
In July 2017, my brother and his fiancee asked Brian, my Brian, to play the guitar and me to sing the song, “Your Glory” by All Sons and Daughters, at their wedding during a moment of worship. Brian and I had a hard time practicing and needed inspiration, so for the weeks leading up to the wedding we would drive to Pender Memorial Hospital where my grandmother was a resident on the nursing home floor and practice for her.
My paternal grandmother, Nannie, suffered from dementia from 1999 to 2017. She went through the traditional phases of progression, from babbling speech and nonsensical talk to only smiles and high fives. She was always enchanted by music, so captivated, her spirit would speak the Psalms when she could not speak herself.
She would do what Psalm 100:1-2 says, “Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!”
It was the day of the rehearsal dinner and Brian and I went to practice our song one last time for my grandmother before the wedding the following day. On this particular day she was almost unwakeable. This wasn’t unusual. I can remember my dad multiple times weeping at her bedside, thinking it was the end, yet something inside of her pulled through, she still had purpose.
She still had meaning. She still had things to teach us. This new lesson, her last lesson, was about the glory of God. Psalm 101:1 “I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music.”
As I brushed her soft white hair and kissed her pale and wrinkled skin, I tried to rouse her. She would not budge. Brian said, “Let’s go on and practice, she will hear us.” He started playing the guitar while I stared hard at the words on my phone to distract myself. My voice cracked as I sang the first verse:
“My life is Yours
And my hope is in You only
And my heart You hold
'Cause You made this sinner holy
And holy, holy”
My voice cracked more, she was still in a deep slumber, tears came to my eyes as I stared at my grandmother’s peaceful body slumped in her wheelchair. I stroked her soft hand and tried to push through. Other family entered the room and I tried not to look in fear of a total breakdown. I felt their warm presence, I felt the peace of God in this moment, I felt comfort, but the coming words I could barely sing:
“Cause Your glory is so beautiful
I fall onto my knees in awe
And the heartbeat of my life
Is to worship in Your light
'Cause Your glory is so beautiful
'Cause Your glory is so beautiful”
Getting to the chorus I had to stop. I had to weep. An RN I never knew and will never forget came in the room and gave me the biggest hug, she completely embraced me and said, “Baby girl you sing your heart out, you sing for your grandmother, you will do great, I know you will.”
That evening after the rehearsal dinner with so much unity and joy among the bride and groom, we got the call that Nannie had passed. The last song I sang to her would be the last song she heard on this Earth.
And I felt the glory of God in that moment.
I embraced my family, I prayed in the Spirit feeling like God had called me to be a leader in that moment. We knew her death was timely and perfect. Part of God’s glorious perfect plan.
The next day I sang for all the angels to hear. I sang, and I knew she was there singing too. The wedding continued, and joy abounded. More joy filled my heart knowing Nannie’s purpose on this earth had come to an end, she was now singing in the fullness of His glory.
That is how the glory of God works: untimely for our flesh but perfect in the spirit. It is often fraught with earthly misunderstanding, our minds not fully comprehending the Spirit.
But Jesus holds all things together, He is the Glory of God, the Creator, Sustainer, Humility, Wisdom, Love, Savior, King, Freedom, and Judge.