I had written the following as a prompt for my church's advent devotional last year. It was to be short and sweet, and for my verbose manner, that was difficult. The power of song, written within each of our genetic typing enters with our spirit into a dimension that we cannot see with our physical eyes, nor touch with our hands, but sends reverberations through the ages before us and ahead of us; wrecking our souls and making us new. Song elevates us and can send us astray. In a younger life, I remember finding delight in "breakup songs" or songs of vengeance that often had the best tempo for a great workout. They give the semblance of empowerment, but were actually at the detriment (often) of another human being. When I lost my little sister to drunk driving, I began to loathe every song that praised the act of drinking alcohol (there are a lot!) Even though these were words simply intended to express an anger, a hurt, in word alone, and make sense of something painful, I later became convicted that to feed negative emotion was a misuse of the gift of song.
What I could not include in this devotion, was my childhood, wrought with abuse and fear that caused me to be mute for fear of saying the wrong thing that could evoke rage and punishment. But for the gift of hidden song. I would hide away with a cassette tape and play "His Eye is on the Sparrow" by Deniece Williams over and over and over. If I did not have access to the player, simple songs of Jesus Loves Me, would soothe my fearful childish soul.
The scriptures tell us to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. But our song does not only convey confidence in the Lord or victory over circumstance, but meets us in the muck and mire of despair, where tears of grief flood our floors, and when confusion comes but we declare that our faith is in the Lord and the Lord alone. We sing, because our hearts are searching for that better day that is coming, whether the intent is fleeing current circumstances or running with vigor to what is ahead, our song is our battle cry, our victory anthem, our ballad of love that our soul knows is complete and someday our eyes will witness.
Here are the words that I shared with my church family last year:
When I was a newly single mother, I would put my babies to bed as early as was reasonable to allow myself time to clean up from the day. Sweeping the floors and tidying the kitchen, I would sing songs of praise in our tiny house with wood floors that carried every creak and melody. My mom had taught me as a young child, that whenever I woke up from nightmares, to sing a song of praise to combat the fear. Years and many bedtimes later, my now adolescent daughters told me they loved when I sang at night, that it made them feel safe and at peace. I had no awareness that their little ears were waiting in anticipation for me to sing songs of praise through a season when all of our hearts were broken.
God, like my babies once did, waits for our song with anticipation. Our song is one of many offerings that we bring to lay at his feet. But our song is also a balm for our own broken hearts, realigning our eternal design with the plans our Maker has for us, the purpose stamped upon our hearts. It is because of Jesus, his birth, death, and resurrection, that we need not fear the unknown terrain ahead. It is Jesus, flawless in every way, who bore all the weight of our hasty decisions to sin and lose perspective of eternity. Then tenderly, he draws us back into his fold, reassuring us that there is a better way, and he has already paved it for us with his gift on Calvary.
We sing because our eternal soul that resides within these temporal walls of flesh and blood cries out in joy and gratitude for all that he has done for us, while we were yet sinners cloaked in our own understanding. We sing out of the agony of our small understanding of life, trusting him with our fears. We sing because the notion that we are truly free in Christ causes joy to bubble up and demands to be expressed. We sing, because it brings us in unity with all of his creation, and should we be silent, the very rocks would cry out.
Lord, we thank you for the gift of voice, that we can sing your praises, knowing that you hear us and delight in our offering of praise. We thank you that you have given us an everlasting love to sing of, throughout the generations. Remind us to bring you our praise when times are hard and when times are good, because we know that your love is steadfast.