Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Perfect Song

I am looking for the perfect song.

I’ve heard some beautiful music in my lifetime. I grew up at a church that had glorious music—timeless hymns, contemporary praise choruses, and stunning choral arrangements. Every Christmas, we’d put on a Christmas pageant that included hundreds of volunteers and amazing songs like “The Hallelujah Chorus” and “Mary, Did You Know?”. Every Easter, trumpeters standing in the balcony would echo each other’s notes, as the choir and orchestra celebrated Christ’s resurrection with music fit for heaven.  
The songs that I heard nearly twenty years ago, I still sing today.  I love to sing them when I’m cooking dinner, driving down the road, or drying my hair (when no one can hear me). But when I really focus on God and think about what He has done for me, especially over this past year, no songs come to mind. No words. I’m speechless. I know plenty of songs that exalt God’s name, His character, and His ways, and some come close to being the song that I need. Yet, I still can’t think of a song that reflects the fullness of my gratefulness.

Then it dawned on me. If I wanted to praise God with the perfect song, it would be the melody of a life dedicated to Him. It would be living every day, meditating on His word, heeding His instruction, and walking in His ways. It would be loving Him with all that I am and helping others to know Him, so they can love Him, too. Perhaps the perfect song God wants is the day-to-day music we create with our lives. Then the expression of our love and gratefulness will find its way into every action we take and every word we say. And of course, He loves to hear our praises as we sing and play with thankful hearts.

What do you think is the best way that we can praise God? Is there a song that you love to sing which captures your gratefulness to Him? Whatever form our “song” takes, let’s always be mindful of the love and the glory of God, and praise Him with all that we are! As one of my favorite verses says, “Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:2 NKJV).

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Thank You for the Rain

It rained on Mother’s Day. Three times that day I was drenched by the rain. I felt miserable. The cool air didn’t help. The time I spent with my parents, however, was a delight. We sat in the morning church service together, ate lunch and talked and laughed, and watched the finale of one of our favorite TV shows that night. I gave my mom a store-bought butterfly card with a heartfelt sentiment inside. She loves butterflies. It was a good day. But I can’t forget the rain.  

It started that morning and continued off and on through the afternoon. Rain, rain, rain. Even now, as I write this, a gray cloud hovers over my house. I feel like the “rain” has been heavier recently than it used to be. Over the past couple of years, I’ve experienced more “storms” right in a row than I have before. But thankfully, I could run to God, and my family, for cover. He was always there, in every storm. He saw every raindrop. And He helped.
I usually associate rain with the spiritual or emotional storms of life. But my church’s mid-week service changed that this week. One of the songs talked about grace pouring down like rain. That kind of rain brings comfort. I’ve realized this year more than ever that if God allows a “storm” of some kind to come, He will also send the grace to handle that test or trial. He will supply the help, strength, and wisdom to be victorious and to come out on the other side joyful. So if the sky opens up and rains a little trouble on me, I know God will open up heaven and rain down His grace.

Prayer: Father, thank You for what I’ve learned in the rain. If a trial comes, I won’t only see the difficulty, but I will look for Your grace. I will depend on You to handle it well, and to learn more about Your faithfulness and provision through it. The rain isn’t so bad when You’re here with me, and I know You’re my sunshine when the sky above is gray and bleak. I thank You now for the victory, and even the joy, that will come because You’re always faithful. Thank You for the rain, and thank You also for being the sunshine in my soul.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

My Shield

Dogs scare me. Big ones, little ones, quiet ones, and “yappers.” Experience has taught me to keep my distance. Sometimes I talk sweetly to them, but even then, I got a growl once. When I walk in the neighborhood alone, I take my umbrella. Fortunately I’ve only needed it one time. With the press of a button, an expanding umbrella is a pretty good deterrent to a curious dog.

When my dad walks with me, no umbrella is necessary. On more than one occasion, he’s been my shield. One day we met two rascals. We saw the first one coming. A boxer, whom we’ve met before, trotted down the street, heading straight toward us. We had time to prepare. Before she came close, Dad moved to put himself between me and the dog. As the dog circled around us, I circled around Dad, trying to keep him between me and her. Fortunately, the boxer was friendly, and didn’t stay with us long.

The other rascal was a surprise. We were walking into a cove when we heard little feet running on pavement. Then came the barking. This much smaller dog wasn’t happy that two strangers had entered his domain. When Dad heard the running and the barking, he grabbed my arm and whirled me away from the little yapper, again putting himself between me and danger. The dog backed off. He must have been convinced that Dad was much bigger than him and could take him.

My dad acted on a father’s instinct to protect. He made himself a shield to keep me from potential harm. In Genesis 15:1 (NKJV), God told Abraham, “I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” When worry threatens our peace, when anxiety encircles us, when fear haunts us, God is our shield. He stands between us and those things that would harm our souls. But we have to make the choice to stand behind Him, and depend on Him to protect us. God walks with us through all of life. With God as our shield, we can walk through life with courage and confidence, and not let fear hinder us.

“But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head” (Psalm 3:3 NKJV)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Little Flutter, A Lot of Thud

Every morning a robin stalks my neighbor’s basement window. First he flutters close to it, contemplating his task. Then he charges, an action which invariably ends with a thud. But he remains undaunted. After a few more tries and a few more thuds, he finally flies away. Yet he always returns the next morning.  

Too often we can be like that stubborn bird. We bang our heads against the “window” trying to get something that’s beyond our reach. The “glass” stops us time after time. Sometimes it’s God putting the glass in our way. He knows that what we want isn’t good for us, so He uses obstacles and hindrances to slow our pace and get our attention. He puts barriers to protect us from what we think we want, and to free us to pursue better things.

I am learning that although I may think something is good for me, it may not be. And if God says it’s not, He knows what He’s talking about. He gives us boundaries for our own protection and well-being, and those boundaries are found in His word. Deuteronomy 10:13 encourages us to keep His commandments which are given for our good, and we can be assured that “His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3 NKJV).

The glass is there for a reason. We may furiously flutter and continually bang our heads against the glass, but God won’t budge. He is looking out for our best interests, for our joy and our inner soundness. He knows the abundant blessings He has in store for us, if we seek Him and walk in His ways instead of our own. So let’s fly straight to His arms and trust Him that He knows best! His “no” to one thing is usually a “yes” to something better.