Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lifesong In The Limelight/Chely Roach

I truly believe that a person's testimony, salvation or otherwise, is one of the most powerful expressions of the Christian faith. I thrive on hearing God-stories. When I had my blog giveaway/contest, I asked for testimonies based on songs affecting one's faith. Well, people submitted, and I was moved. That's where "Lifesong In the Limelight" on Saturdays was born:

This is where I introduce you to Chely, a friend of mine from Faithwriters.com. She is a phenomenal writer, a passionate person and just all-around wonderful. She's started a new blogspot blog called Blissful Torture, and I know it is going to be AMAzing. Anyway, I'll get on with today's

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Hard Pew, Hard Heart
By Michelle Roach


Before that February morning, I heard a thousand hymns, but never listened to a one. I held hymnals and programs in my hand, but never felt one devour my heart. I noticed the hardness of the pew under my rump, and the fervor of the preaching, but never noticed the hardness of my heart, or the passion of the Spirit in the preacher. The latter was the key to my deaf, dumb and blinded existence. Those first thousand hymns fell on the deaf ears of a lost soul.

In the summer of 2001, I finally fell on my face before Jesus. I truly believe that it’s harder to reach people like me for Christ; the ones that so firmly believe that we are already Christians—as if I inherited my faith like my freckles. I received an Easter basket every spring, and opened Christmas presents every winter…those were the "fruitful" signs I showed and observed to categorize faith. Sad.

Before my rebirth, I had searched out spirituality at a couple different churches; neither yielding relationships with Christ nor His followers. The music was lame, the preaching was lame, and the fellowship was the lamest. I went back to sleeping in on Sundays.

I wish I could say they after I was saved by grace, I fell right in line with how I should’ve been behaving. I didn’t. I was ├╝ber-skeptical about “organized religion”, and continued to smoke acres of pot, among other less obvious sins.

But the Lord of Lords was still on His throne. And still whispering to me. He led me to Christian radio…not musical radio, but authentic, Biblically sound teaching radio. Every moment solidified my ever growing faith, and my ever growing conviction that I was a hopeless sinner. Worse yet, I was sinning on purpose. In parenting terms, I was being willfully disobedient, and quite deserving of some type of corporal discipline.

The whispers became shouts.

I began to research denominations and local churches. If I was going to re-immerse myself into a church, I had some criteria they had to meet. They had to be Biblically sound, not touchy-feely, have a balance of liturgy and contemporary, and be pro-life in word and deed. After months of inner debate, God led me to my church home.



But I didn’t go. I drove past it frequently, and browsed their website…but on Sunday I remained home.

The shouts became screams.

On a Tuesday morning in mid February, 2003, I prayed in the shower as I sobbed. I wanted to be obedient. But I needed His help. It was as if He replied, “I have been waiting two years for you to ask, my daughter.”

I permanently put down the drugs, and that Sunday, I went to church.

During the worship service, the congregation sang a hymn I had never heard. I didn’t know then that it was a relatively new song, written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend titled, In Christ Alone. Never in my life have four stanzas spoken more clearly to me, and to this day, I cannot think of a more eloquent or succinct description of the essence of the Gospel, set to music.

I remember a sensation of fullness swelling in my chest during the crescendo of each verse, stifling my lungs…making me gasp for air. The lyrics pummeled me, and then soothed me. For years as a nominal Christian, I would look sideways, almost doubting the charisma of people that would raise their hands in worship as they sang. I thought they were fakers or plain wackadoos. But that morning, as the climax of the song mounted—the resolution enraptured my soul, and I raised my hands to the stained glass rose window above the chancel, embracing the Holy Spirit. For the first time, I sang out praises to the Savior, in public, unashamed. “For I am His and He is mine—Bought with the precious blood of Christ.”

One hundred and ninety four words—sung with faith and fervor by about the same number of mouths—opened my eyes to the love that God has not just for me, but for His Church…His Bride.

And by His grace, those hard pews have softened at the same rate as my heart.


"In Christ Alone"
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.


Michele is a married women of ten years, who has recently been blessed with twin girls. When she is conscious and coherent, she loves to play with her toddlers, write whatever God puts on her heart, and volunteer at her local crisis pregnancy center in her hometown of St. Louis. You can read more of Michele's writings at her newest of several blogs, Blissful Torture, or at Faithwriters.com


In the Key of HE,

9 friends shared a comment:

Joanne Sher said...

OH, do I love that song too. And what a testimony. I was brought to tears. Thank you, Laura, for sharing these with us - and to YOU, Chely, for sharing your story as well.

Patty Wysong said...

That's one that gives me chills, Chely!

This wonderful. What a beautiful testimony of God working in your life!

Betsy Markman said...

Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes, oh yes, oh YES!! I love this! As a fairly recently reborn "lifelong Christian," I find incredible delight in hearing of others going from religious death to spiritual life. Beautifully told...I'll be checking out "Blissful torture" for sure.
And it doesn't get any better than "In Christ Alone!"

Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful testimony!

Laury said...

Oh man, I was going to write that this gave me the chills but Peej beat met to it. Well, I guess I did anyway. Chely, you are such a fantastic writer. Thank you for sharing your testimony with us.

Laura, thank you for sharing these stories. How powerful!

Marita said...

I am never disappointed when I read anything written by Chely.It is always good for me to hear how others find their way to Christ. Helps me to know better how to reach out. Thank-you for sharing this, Laura. And I will add Chely to my blog roll.

Lynda Schab said...

Thank you, Chely, for sharing your heart and your testimony. And thanks, Laura, for posting. So powerful!

Gigi said...

Beautiful, awesome, powerful testimony!!! I look forward to visiting Chely's blog!

Debbie said...

thanks for sharing your testimony!
The lyrics in that song are so powerful! I get chills everytime I listen to it!

CHRIST alone... so much power in two words..

by the way I am from FW too..
Debbie Phenes or djdeb from the message board..

Catrina Bradley said...

I'm all choked up after reading this testimony again, LauraLee. Thanks for shining the limelight on Chely and her powerful story.