September 9, 2013

How Can I Keep from Singing

God made me a singer. From very early on, I knew that’s what I wanted to be. As a very little girl, I remember sitting on my swing on Sunday mornings after church, swinging and singing songs to Jesus. 

My daddy made the swing by connecting a pole between a sawed-off tree trunk and a living tree. It was a place where I would sit all by myself and swing and sing and make up songs. It wasn't too far from the kitchen window and my mother's watchful eye, but to me I felt far away from everyone in my own little world. Even though I was very small, I remember this special place and my private time spent swinging and singing there.

Most lives are filled with some sorrow, and while my childhood and adolescence took some very bad turns, I am certain these events helped to mold me into who I am today. I honestly don’t think that I would feel the compassion and love that I have for God’s people if I had not endured all that I had to go through. 

I have always loved to sing, and enjoyed singing in my grade school choirs. During one holiday season, I remember singing - very loudly - as one of the Wise Men in a Christmas pageant at the Little House of Prayer. Naturally, I dreamed of being a big singing star. But even in these early years I realized the profound joy I felt when I sang.

It wasn’t until I was adult, and had given up my dream of stardom for the more real and tangible dreams of being a wife and mother, that I had an epiphany that would change me forever.

I realized that God made me able to sing, so that I could sing for Him.

Elation coupled with humbleness, and I wondered how I hadn’t known this truth all along. Those songs I made up as a little girl were ‘God’ songs, about the beauty of life and the world, about butterflies and blue skies on a sunny day; some of the very things I am grateful for each day of my adult life. How I wish I could remember those songs!

As I lead worship singing, or sing in the Chancel Choir at my church, I draw on years of vocal training through singing with high school and community choirs. You’d think that it would all be second nature, but I am always learning, and honing my craft.

When I sing, I have so many things to remember: how and when to breathe, annunciation, and of course, singing the proper notes and staying on my part. Sometimes I fear my imperfection, if I feel my voice isn’t up to par, or I worry if I will be able to hit that high note. Or perhaps I haven’t had adequate rehearsal time, and I fear I will make a mistake.

That’s when I pray. I give it all to God. I pray that He will empty me of me, and fill me with His Holy Spirit. Great joy fills me when I sing from my heart, and I’ve been told it shows on my face. I really can’t help it. I am a very emotional person, and I don't feel the need to hide my joy.

But there's more to this story, and my sweet sister-in-law, whom God has often used to teach me spiritual truths, explained it best. She said that I am a vessel, and that God uses me. 
I imagine it like this, as if I am an empty pitcher. God fills me with His love and His Holy Spirit, and then pours me out. When I sing, I pour out His love over His beloved children. It's His love that's reaching everyone, and I am so thrilled that He uses me in this way. 

When I feel the gentle peace of His indwelling Spirit, I am lifted beyond my earthly concerns. His peace fills me as I give it all to Him, surrendering my fears and human frailty, and I am blessed with indescribable peace and joy. 

And not surprisingly, when I'm not worrying about perfection, the singing goes along perfectly.

And it isn't just in singing that this works. Any time we hold worries and concerns too closely, we are trying to do this life all on our own. We need to surrender those thoughts and fears that trouble us and keep us from joy. When we are burdened with care, we should share our concerns with God. Just give them all to Him.

And though our problems don’t go away, our inner selves are filled with a comforting peace that assures us that all will be well. In the greater scheme of things, our little daily troubles and concerns don’t amount to much. Maintaining this perspective while keeping our thoughts with God will also help to keep our feet on the pathway to peace.

And that, my friends, is the only path I want to walk.

Let go of your troubles, concerns, fears and hardships and allow God to fill you with all that He is. 

When we do, we can begin to heal, and move toward a more perfect peace in Him.

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