A Rooftop Conversation

“This song reminds me of campfires and blankets and friends and starry nights and facing fears and facing truth and what’s to come.” | Anonymous

Quarantine has had me returning to old favourites and old memories. Moments of reflection, sometimes painful but mostly filled with contented Joy.

The Most High has been teaching me that Nostalgia can be dangerous. I’ve over-emphasized the happy bits and erased the painful ones. I’ve edited the past to myself, making it seem like things were always golden sunlight slanting through green leaves…but they weren’t.

There’s Darkness back there too and that’s why I’m incredibly grateful that my feet are planted in the Present. The Most High wants me to live in the here and now; not in the Past and not in the Future.

But although we should not walk backward in life, there is room for musing on our Father’s faithfulness as an encouragement for our weary hearts. He’s still on the throne, lovely humans. He’s still the same faithful God He was in the past and nothing…NOTHING will change that so have courage, dear-heart.

Last night, I stumbled on a song from the year 2000 and it brought back a flood of memories. Granted, I was barely alive in the year 2000 (mmkay, I was like 5 haha so more than barely alive πŸ˜‚) so I have no memory of when this song actually came out. But I heard it for the first time in 2012, driving down a road in Jersey in mid-September, with the windows rolled down and a few of my High School favourites in the car with me.

My friend was driving and she asked us if we’d heard the song before and I can’t remember if the rest of the girls had but I hadn’t.

(It’s amazing how hearing one bar of music can bring back so much.)

So I started thinking back to 2012, to the night before my friends and I were driving down that road on our way to school (well, we weren’t on our way to school, exactly, but I’ll explain more in a moment haha).

The night before, we had a rooftop conversation (they’re really good for the soul πŸ™‚ ).

The six of us girls had made a rather last-minute decision to have a sleepover at Laura’s house. Spontaneity was our middle name…something like that haha We were having a big day the next day so we all decided we wanted to be together the night before.

So we piled into someone’s car (or some of our parents drove some of us…details there are a bit hazy for me πŸ™ˆ) and descended on Laura’s house for a night of shenanigans and laughter.

Later, in 2013, we’d return to Laura’s house to hand-letter mugs for Teacher Appreciation Day while listening to The Phantom of the Opera. Senior Year was a tough year on so many levels for all us, individually and collectively, but it brought us closer together. And while those weren’t the best days, they were good, hard days.

Back to the story at hand haha

So six girls crowded into Laura’s room, sprawled out on her bed, in her chair, and on the floor. We giggled etc etc etc and then someone came up with the brilliant idea to bake cookies but then we got distracted and went out onto Laura’s balcony….

….which didn’t have a railing…..

We decided, in true seventeen-year-old girl fashion (or maybe we were just odd πŸ˜‚) to sleep on the roof/balcony. There was enough room for all six of us so we scrounged around the house for extra blankets and pillows and went outside and got cozy.

Crowding into each other’s space, we started talking…this time without the giggles.

We talked about so much but one bit stood out to me in particular as I was reliving this moment last night: we talked about what would happen if our freedoms as Christians were taken away in America.

Lovely humans, we were seventeen years old. Well, one of us was eighteen at that point, I think, but still. We were so young. What were we doing thinking about serious things like that? In the eyes of the world, perhaps even in the eyes of some professing Christians, such a conversation was far too sober for a teenage girls’ sleepover. All of us weren’t saved at that point; I’m not sure if I was yet. But the Most High was working and had worked in a few of us, by His Spirit, and turned out minds and hearts toward the things that really mattered; the things that still really matter.

One of my friends, Liz, looked round the circle at the rest of us and said she’d been thinking about what would happen if all our Bibles were one day confiscated. Would she have enough Scripture stored up in her mind and heart to sustain her through the dark and difficult days? Would she cave under the pressure and renounce Christ as her Saviour?

The other five of us grew quiet and started thinking too.

Did we have what it would take to withstand the potential persecution? Maybe we weren’t as serious about Christ as we said we were.

Now I can’t speak for the other girls but I know that Liz’s questions sent my wheels spinning. I realized that didn’t have the Most High’s Word stored up in my heart really at all. I had loads of head knowledge and I could turn to a Bible passage faster than anyone I knew buuuut that knowledge wasn’t gonna save my sorry soul. Only Christ Himself could do that. And I had to believe.

Liz pulled out a medium-sized treasure chest; like the kind you’d find at Michael’s or another craft store, small enough to fit in a purse. Inside the chest were stacks of index cards. Liz had begun to write out Bible verses on each one: on one side was the verse and on the other were her notes and thoughts about it.

She was hiding the Most High’s Word in her heart one index card at a time.

As we took turns reading through the index cards, Liz offered to buy all of us treasure chests and a few index cards to help us get started. She challenged me, lovely humans, like you wouldn’t believe (and she’s still challenging me to this day haha always pushing me away from mediocrity and toward excellence…shout-out to you, Liz, if you’re reading this; you know who you are and I’m grateful for you <3)

Later that school year (some time in 2013), we were all at Liz’s house for some gathering…I think the guys were there too this time…and she handed out the boxes with the few index cards to those who wanted them, as promised. Liz was and has always been incredibly driven. When she sets her mind to something, it gets done, come what may πŸ™‚

I still have my box and I’ve added to the stack of index cards and moved on to using larger ones and sticking them in my Bible as I memorize verses.

But lovely humans, I have LOADS of progress to make in this area. I still don’t hide the Most High’s Word in my heart like I know I ought to and it shames me. I don’t always treat it like it’s water and I’m dying of thirst in a desert. Like it’s my only life-line off a sinking ship.

I don’t view it like David did: panting after it like a deer pants after water.

What if persecution one day reaches our shores?

The story of Pastor Andrew Brunson comes to mind: after he was freed from incarceration, and asked what one bit of advice he’d give to Christians on the other side of his imprisonment, he said, read the Bible daily and memorize Scripture. Pastor Brunson admitted that his wife’s faith was stronger than his throughout the entire ordeal: why?

Because she had been faithful in her daily devotional time with Adonai. She had stored His Word in her heart and had it ready to call to mind in times of distress.Β But Pastor Brunson had not been as faithful.

That really hit me hard when I heard it. Daily Bible reading and prayer aren’t options, lovely humans. How can we call God’s Word to mind if we don’t even know what it says?

That night in 2012, sitting on Laura’s roof, surrounded by my classmates, I realized the importance of Scripture memorization for the first time. At least, for the first time that I can remember.

The hours ticked by and soon it was 2 am. Some of us had fallen off to sleep but a few of us were still awake so we trooped back inside and downstairs to the kitchen to bake cookies. After we ate half of the cookie dough (one of us in particular tried to valiantly keep our greedy lil hands away from the raw cookie dough…valiantly but unsuccessfully πŸ˜‚), we baked the rest and then stumbled back upstairs and out onto the balcony.

Laura lit a candle and placed it by our feet (I know, what were we thinking?!) and six teenage girls drifted off to sleep under the stars.

In the cold, early morning, the candle had gone out and the sun was rising.

As we stumbled about, trying to get ready for the day, I don’t think any of us were thinking of our 2 am rooftop conversation but now, eight years later, I pray the Most High brings is back to all of our minds like He did to mine. We all need that reminder.

We drove to school and met up with the four guys in our class who were shocked, but not surprised, when we told them about the candle πŸ˜‚ We pulled out the remains of our cookie-baking adventures and the tall boys with hollow legs soon gave off reprimanding and teasing us as their attention was directed elsewhere πŸ˜‚

That day, we drove an hour or two to a cute lil cottage somewhere in NJ, NY, or PA (I’ve since forgotten) and planned out our Senior Year. We went with our principal, administrative assistant, and one or two of our favourite teachers. The cottage was lovely and I wish I’d paid it more attention but we explored and played games and sat in the living room, squeezed onto couches, and came up with ideas to make our Senior Year smashing;

but those are tales for another time πŸ™‚

I wrote on the treasure chest “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32) and that quotation is truer than I think I knew at the time. The Truth of Scripture will set us free, free from sin. It’s the only thing that will.

I read through the treasure chest last night and it brought such Courage and Hope to my soul. I had written the words to an old song on the back of one of the index cards and I hope it encourages your heart today, wherever you are and whatever you’re facing:

“And He will raise you up on eagle’s wings,Β 
bear you on the breath of dawn;Β 
make you to shine like the sun
and hold you in the palm of His hand.”Β 
~ “On Eagle’s Wings” | Michael Joncas

girlies on the rooftop

I managed to find a photo of the rooftop sleepover and I wasn’t even looking for one haha Can you spot the candle? πŸ™‚

joy's treasure chest

A bookish photo featuring the treasure chest and some of the index cards I wrote πŸ™‚

| We’re in a War, my friends, and we all need Courage on the Front Lines ❀ |

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