“Chapelgate” a Spiritual Memoir
by Angel Isaacs
"How awesome is this place! Surely this is the house of God, and this is the gate of Heaven." Genesis 28:17
One day I prayed, "Dear God, if there is something more to Christianity than I understand would you please show me what it is?"
Have you ever wondered if there is more to Christianity than you know about? I did. Just before Christmas about ten years ago. (I wrote this in 1996) And now it's a little over ten years later and I can look back. Ten years. What an incredible cliff top I am sitting on right now. Imagine... ten years spread out like valleys and hills and trees and streams down below. I can see now what I couldn't see then. What I only wondered about. Imagine if you asked yourself that question, if you prayed a little silent prayer one day and asked God, "Is there more to Christianity than this?" And imagine... what if he answered you? What if he not only answered you but he swept into your life and carried you away on an adventure. An adventure to answer your question. He did that to me. He heard my little prayer and he answered it with an adventure.
Now I call that adventure "Chapelgate" and that's what I'm writing about here in this book. Because I wanted to tell you what happened. Just in case you might like to whisper those magical little words to him yourself. It seems like now he was just sitting alone somewhere patiently drumming his fingers on a table and waiting for me to ask. And when he heard my prayer he jumped up, grabbed his boots and smiled that mischievous smile of his and came and got me. You see, my prayer had a smell of boredom and just a tinge of an insult to it. Did you know prayers have smells? They do. You'll find out if you dare to do what I did (Come on I dare you, you see I can see pretty good from this cliff top I'm writing from, it'll happen!) Anyway, as I said, my prayer had a little boredom and a little rolling of my eyes to it (see if you can hear it now..."Is there more to Christianity than this, God?"...get the picture...) and so he (remember I used the word "mischievous"?) thought up a really good answer for me. Sitting here, looking back, I'd call his answer an "Adventure." No, that doesn't quite get it...let's add the words "Roller Coaster"...that's better, a "Roller-Coaster Adventure."
I didn't get his punch line for 10 years until one day it dawned on me that I'd had that tinge of boredom in my prayer - get it - Roller-Coaster. I told you he was mischievous. Imagine someone waiting 10 years for you to get the punch line? He's that and more. So much, so much, so much more. Does it sound like to you that I'm in love with him? Like he's a real person, with a real character that you can get to see facet after facet of and grow with and have fun with and laugh with and go on adventures with? He is. And he's rich beyond any prince, anyone, he can do anything he thinks of, no limits, and he's wise and loving and so very, very faithful, and he gets moody and sad and jealous and sometimes he cries. I love him and I'll never go back. I'll never go back to who I was ten years ago and the little I knew of him then. And I'd never trade those ten years for anything. You know the pretty picture I'm using in this book? That is Chapelgate. Chapelgate is Paradise. It's heaven. It's Eden. Its home. Chapelgate.
My adventure that he took me on had five years of Daytime and five years of Nighttime. From Christmas Day 1985 when I wrote my very first song about God, about him, to Christmas Eve 1990 when my night began, to Christmas 1995, which I call Midnight, (and after that it Dawns and then happens again!) Christmas to Christmas to Christmas. Ten years. Five years of prosperity and fun and Daytime and five years of disaster and suffering and Nighttime. Did I remember to say be careful? Be careful. That roller coaster soared up to the highest clouds of heaven and it screamed down, down, down, into the deepest pits of hell. But he was there every step. Every single step, every breath we took together, and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.
I tried to figure out the best way to tell you my story. I could just tell it or I could try to show you. You see, the whole time I was having this adventure he kept whispering in my ear, "Write it down, Angel," and sometimes I was grouchy and didn't feel like writing and he'd keep after me nagging me until I did, and sometimes I couldn't write fast enough. So, you see, I wrote it down. Year by year. I wrote it in diaries and little notes to myself and poems and short-stories and different newsletters. But mostly in songs. Because songs soar. Songs capture ideas and express them with the passion of the moment, the passion of the insight. So he gave me music to write with. He played his thoughts and his answers and his moods on the strings of my heart and the melodies of our communicating flowed from my heart and lips and pen as my songs. So to show you my adventure I've given you all my songs. I tried to separate them into the order I wrote them in and the years I wrote them in, the best I could, because I wanted you to get the flavor of my story.
It's a story of growth and you can see my growth in my songs and in the order I wrote them. It's also a story that curves around into a circle. Maybe you'll be able to see that too, but it's not an ordinary circle, the beginning is at the end. Maybe you can figure it out. I thought it would be more real if you could share my story in the steps I lived it. So, each story, each poem, each song is expressing a footstep. My songs are my footsteps as I walked through my adventure with God, learning who he is, what he likes, how he thinks, how to please him, how he loves me. Because that is the answer to my question, "Is there more to Christianity than this, God?" The answer is yes. The answer will always be yes. Because the answer is, "yes, it's getting to know me," and reaching for his outstretched hand as you take another step forward. Footsteps. Come on, I'll show you. Angel