I find no hope within to call my own
For I am frail of heart, my strength is gone
But deep within my soul is rising up a song
Here in the comfort of the faithful one…
I found myself identifying so much with these words as I drove home from work, my iPod earbuds serving their purpose of pumping music into my heart and soul. Music is one of my most favorite things God created. Sometimes when I’m tired or when “stuff” has pressed me down I forget and don’t put my iPod on or listen to the radio – I’m glad I thought to listen yesterday.
We each connect with God our own way. My sister journals regularly, my husband sits by himself in our room and prays, my dad writes out what he feels God is saying to him each morning before the rest of his day begins, my friend likes to read devotionals sent to her by email. Some people connect with God outdoors – feeling closer to him when surrounded by nature. Some connect when with other people talking about God, studying the Bible together, and praying together. Some connect only when they are completely alone with God and it’s quiet. Each should find the way that is most natural for them. We are all wired differently so there’s no ONE way to connect with God that is right for everyone.
Blogging helps me connect with God, processing the things I’m learning, thinking and feeling. I love to read His Word but like it best in small doses so I can focus on one or two verses that stand out to me for that day. The biggest, most powerful connector for me, however, is music. It always has been.
I can remember as a child enjoying so much hearing the people sing harmony in worship. I remember, as a teenager, my heart soaring with the sound of a trumpet fanfare on an Easter Sunday morning as we all sang out “I live, I live because He is risen! I live, I live to worship Him…” Meaningful lyrics and a heartfelt, passionately sung song do more for me than a regimented daily devotional. From an early age I was given the opportunity to help out in music and worship at church, playing piano, singing in choirs, then eventually helping lead. It just feels natural to me and I love it so.
This past Sunday I helped lead worship at a church where John is the interim pastor. As we all sang familiar words, God resurrected the meaning, made it fresh and brought it to the forefront in my mind. “Blessed be your name, when I’m found in the desert place, when I walk through the wilderness, blessed be your name….You give and take away, you give and take away. My heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be your name!” In every situation, blessed be Your name, God. I remembered that choosing to praise, especially through music, connects me with God.
There are times praise and thankfulness can’t be contained within me and they burst out in resounding, ecstatic, colorful waves. There are times when in quietness I sense God’s holiness and bow down in my heart in awe and unworthiness. There are also times when I feel weak and discouraged and so the praise coming from my lips is a faint and almost inaudible sound.
In each of those times, God meets me and draws me close. In the jubilant praise moments it’s as if I leap onto Him and wrap my arms around his neck, unable to keep from smiling. In the quiet moments His presence surrounds me as gentle as the stillness. In the weak and lowly times when I can’t seem to reach Him He hears my whispers and comes to wherever I am, scooping me up, holding me and telling me He understands. Then he sets my feet on the ground and helps me keep going. He always meets me when I choose to praise Him.
I needed that reminder this week. Oh, how I need God’s presence with me. I know He’s always with me, but sometimes I’m less aware. Somehow praise opens the window again to let the fresh air of his love, joy, and holiness swish in and dispel the stuffiness of myself and my circumstances. He is so much greater and more wonderful! He is so beautiful and overwhelmingly compassionate. His love knows no end. He is patient and slow to get angry. He doesn’t treat me as I deserve. He is faithful.
I love the song by Selah, quoted above, because it ends in praise. No matter what, Jesus will meet you where you are when you praise Him.
My heart is confident in you, O God;
my heart is confident.
No wonder I can sing your praises! Psalm 57:7 NLT