Glistening Grace and Joy Unspeakable

My mother gave me the gift of tears.

I see them in my memory of her only once - only once before the medicine numbed hers away.

The congregation in our small country church house was singing the same words I had heard her sing a thousand times before - but she wasn’t singing. And somehow this single, silent moment gave me hope I hadn't known I needed.

Falling soundless down her slope of sorrow and disappointment and despair and depression and shame, they surely must have glistened freshly on her face...but I only saw her heart torn open.

It wasn't scary - not like other times had been. There had been plenty of scary times with her in those long and dark years, but even so, those years – and now her tears - had not made me lose confidence in her ability to tend me, lead me, love me. Somehow, the unspeakable gave me strength. Somehow, her silence that morning sang truer than all the other voices around me, loud and reverant. Her song was a heartcry of knowing her need for a Savior.

I feel her heartcry still. It flows down my own face, warm and wet, wishing for more to offer, stronger and more steadfast in my own journey. "Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah; pilgrim through this barren land, I am weak," she sang beside me so many times, "but Thou art mighty; hold me to Thy powerful hand..."

She's since gone on. So will I.

But maybe when I can no longer speak of joy, my tears may anyway?

And maybe the truth is this: There are times when a silent heartcry speaks loudest.

Because there is a truth that pulses through us all, courses through our veins like life itself:

There is need of repentance and of a Savior who restores hope and really does birth new songs into old hearts. One single, silent heartcry of one hard-pressed saint can proclaim to the rooftops a humble acceptance of a precious gift from a precious Redeemer...fresh forgiveness for the freshly fallen.

And it is His gift still.

Tears can be pure in a powerful and gentle Father...who takes the tears in our hearts and mends them sweetly with glistening gold grace-thread...for the journey back to joy.

Father, pouring it all out raw before You is the best I can do sometimes...Transform it for me?


Joy Unspeakable (hymn by Barney Warren, 1900)

I have found His grace is all complete,

He supplieth every need;

While I sit and learn at Jesus’ feet,

I am free, yes, free indeed.


It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,

Full of glory, full of glory;

It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,

Oh, the half has never yet been told.

I have found the pleasure I once craved,

It is joy and peace within;

What a wondrous blessing, I am saved

From the awful gulf of sin.

I have found that hope so bright and clear,

Living in the realm of grace;

Oh, the Savior’s presence is so near,

I can see His smiling face.

I have found the joy no tongue can tell,

How its waves of glory roll;

It is like a great o’erflowing well,

Springing up within my soul.

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