Thomas McKenzie
by grace alone


Thomas McKenzie's Blog.

Hold Me Together

Surely, it is God who saves me; 

I will trust in him and not be afraid.
For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense,
and he will be my Savior.
--Isaiah 12:2-3

On Saturday morning our family went to the Green Hills Mall to watch our younger daughter sing with her school choir.  Sophie was not only singing with the big group, but she also had been asked to sing a solo.  I was happy for her and proud that she got such an important part.  I was also nervous, not that she wouldn’t do well, but because this seemed like a lot of pressure to put on an 11 year old.  

The venue for the concert was an open area near a pretzel kiosk and a Dakota Watch stand.  Many people gathered, mainly family of the choir kids.  I started to get a bit anxious when they rolled out the massive P.A. system.  It was horribly loud and acoustically unforgiving.  Worse, the CD of tracks the kids were to sing along with kept skipping.  The threat of a demoralizing choral failure began to form in my mind.  

When it was finally time for Sophie to sing she looked nervous.  In one hand she held the words to her song, in the other she clutched the microphone.  The rest of the children sat down during her performance. She stood next to the speaker, close enough to cause some feedback.  Standing alone, her voice rang out clear in the hollow canyon of upscale stores. 

The song she sang is called “Breath of Heaven.”  You may know; Amy Grant made it a hit several years ago.  It is a song sung by the Virgin Mary to God.  It is deeply emotional, the cry of an unsure girl who knows she isn’t up to the task.  It is a prayer that the Holy Spirit might somehow hold her together.  

As Sophie sang, I realized she isn’t that much younger than Mary probably was when she was pregnant with Jesus.  I saw in Sophie’s face a similar fear, a sense of being on the verge of overwhelmed.  She looked so small to me, surrounded by so many people and so much commerce.  In a way I could never have expected, the words of the song came alive to me.  I felt a connection to Mary, to her doubt, and to her fear.  

As she sang, people began to stop all around her.  People who had just been walking by, shopping for Christmas, lingered.  They gathered on the second floor, far above her head.  They watched and they listened.  There in the middle of the mall--a holy moment.  The fear in Sophie conveyed the fear in the Mother of God.  That is the fear in each of us.  That prayer, that longing that God might be “forever near me” became very present to me, and I believe to others as well.  

God held Sophie together.  She got through it, and she sounded great.  God held Mary together.  She got through it, and though things were hard for her we still bless her today.  This gives me hope, the hope that I might get through “it” too, whatever “it’ is.  Sophie and Mary are reminders to me that God does save me, he holds me together, and even when I am afraid he is my strong defender.  

(If you'd like to hear Sophie's performance, here it is.)

Sophie Sings Breath of Heaven from Thomas McKenzie on Vimeo.