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Having a Hard Time Listening

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sometimes you are just listening for that one special song

 

Thirty years after the inception of the Contemporary Christian Music movement it seems ridiculous that so many are still divided over this issue. It speaks volumes of the health (or lack thereof) of the Christian church today that we allow such petty issues to divide us when there are so many other issues that we should be grappling with.

Having said that, someone tried to pull me into just such a discussion recently. His objection to modern praises was that he felt the songs focus on ourselves while traditional hymns focus solely on God. My first reaction was that perhaps he should go back and revisit the lyrics of both genre of music. But I resisted the urge to be sarcastic and tried to listen. Problem was I was only allowed to listen. He just wanted to vent and was not expecting a response other than agreement and sympathy.

But I did have an opinion that I wanted to share. This is the fun part of having a personal blog. I can vent all I want. It’s my blog and I’ll vent if I want to.

As a music lover, I have a deep respect for the music of the church, from the old hymns to the repeated praise choruses to the more thoughtful and varied songs of today. Of course, I have my favorites but I love a wide range of styles of music so I am comfortable and able to respond to a wide range of worship styles.

I’ve been listening to an old Todd Agnew song lately, “Written on the Wall”. The chorus cries out:

‘Cause the sound of this world’s deafening, and I ‘m having a hard time listening, and I wish your will was still written in the walls.”

To me, helping me get back to a place where I can hear that one special song that God sings for me is the essence of a solid worship service. When I come to church on a Sunday morning (or whatever day/time your service is) I am coming with the dirt and grime of this world on the soles of my shoes, worked under my fingernails and ground into the fibers of my clothes. It will take me a moment to refocus.

‘Cause the sound of this world is really deafening and I’m having such a hard time listening.”

I’ve come running into church dragging a bleary eyed toddler behind me. I’ve trudged up the front steps after spending the day before with my dying father and couldn’t wait for service to end so I could get back to his bedside. I’ve been so tired after a rough week at work, a night out with friends, a fight with a rebellious teenager.

The sounds of the world…I’m having a hard time listening, Lord.

But then I hear the strains of music from within those four walls that aren’t meant to be walls at all. Sometimes the sound of a keyboard or piano, or maybe the sound of voices greeting each other after a hard week out in the world where it can be so hard to hear. As the congregation starts to sing, I join in. The world begins to fade. It slips gradually away. I love when that first song gently pulls me before the throne. A song about me. A song about myself and Christ. I guess my friend would have disagreed with me on this.

But don’t let it end there. Subsequent songs need to refocus us on the One who is the whole reason we are there. I allow the music, the prayer, the choice of Scripture leading up to the sermon help me to tune out the noise and tune into Christ and who He is – grace, love, mercy and peace.

And I’ll find that I didn’t even notice if an old hymn was sung or a praise chorus. It was simply my being led away from the world which is deafening and into His presence of peace. And the next time someone tries to start that some old argument with me, I’ll just let the music I hear in my heart play while the storm surges around me.

Zephaniah317_1920x1080_1The LORD your God is with you,

He is mighty to save.

He will take great delight in you,

He will quiet you with his love,

He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17

 

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just a mom musing on Mother’s Day

mother's dayTruth be told, I never really wanted to have kids. I figured it would happen eventually, but I wasn’t in any real hurry. I only started to feel that maternal itch when my friends started to have babies. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my firstborn that I realized what I really wanted. I wanted to hold that child. Everything in my heart and soul yearned to hold that baby in my arms.  Over the course of those nine months, I changed from a carefree adult to a MOM (yes, in capitals letters). And I loved the change both in my body and in my way of thinking and how I approached the world.

When my daughter was finally born, I couldn’t get over how beautiful she was. We snuggled constantly in those first few months. I fretted over how much she ate and was frantic to decipher each little cry or whimper.

By her first birthday, I was already planning ahead for the next one. Now that I had the hang of this baby thing, I wanted a whole houseful of kids. My husband and I went house shopping and found an older home with four bedrooms and a huge backyard that would be perfect for the large family that we were anticipating. But, sometimes, things don’t work out the way you plan. Sometimes God throws you a curve and you find yourself struggling to keep up. We would lose our second child to Marfan’s Syndrome, a disease marked by a fatal defect of the heart. That tragedy was quickly followed by the birth of our third child, a healthy and handsome boy. We hadn’t had much time to breathe, let alone grieve. Undeterred, we continued to try to expand our little family but it didn’t quite work out that way.

My two beautiful little ones grew and grew. They started pre-school and then made the jump to Kindergarten. Although I would not have any more babies, I managed to raise one dog, four cats, and assorted tropical fish. I was also called in as consultant by my kids to help with their four guinea pigs, gerbils and chameleons. And through it all, I kept the baby clothes, high chair and play swing neatly stored in the attic. I still had dreams. You might think that with all this going on I would have laid aside those dreams, but not so. I still would have loved to have had just one more baby. To fill the gap, I volunteered to help with Children’s Ministry events, Youth Group and Sunday School at church. It was around this time that I noticed a curious thing starting to happen. As much as I doted on my kids, I always had room in my heart to genuinely care for the little ones at church.  I’d plan lessons and games for my Sunday School class and couldn’t wait to share what I was learning in Scripture with other people’s children on Sunday mornings. And then I figured it out. Though I had wanted a whole houseful of kids, I wasn’t going to get that. Instead, I was getting a whole churchful of kids. And I started to realize that my dreams weren’t big enough for the plans that God had for me.

It seems like God’s plans began where my dreams fell short. Now I can see that He has given me the best of both worlds. Two young adults at home, whom I love and adore, plus all the kids at church to love and play with. As I prepare for my youngest one’s high school graduation, I continue to teach Sunday School and volunteer at kid’s events. We laugh and play and learn together about this wonderful God whose plans are always so much better than anything that I could have ever dreamt about.

I wanted a houseful…

He gave me a churchful…

Not a bad deal when you think about it.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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