Even the birds have a song

I still have no song in my heart and I feel almost unchristian to make such an honest confession. I do not make melody in my heart, or whistle a tune or catch myself humming a hymn. My harmonica is tarnished and dusty from lack of use and I have not desired to play it in a long time. I am not nearly as pained by the sound of music as I was 28 months ago but I still react and withdraw from much of it most of the time.

I can evaluate my grief and sorrow by the way I react to music. I know I have a ways to go in my healing by the response I feel in my heart. Solomon said, “Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes of a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda.” (Proverbs25:20) I know the chill that he speaks of and have experienced the explosive internal reaction that is described in this truth.

My church family stand to sing praise to God and I feel no compulsion to join in but am rather satisfied to just pray and listen to the harmony of their praise. I wait eagerly for the last note of music to be over so I can listen to the sweet sound of the word of God. I am an enigma I suppose, few people in this world can get through a day without music but I happen to be one of them.

Solomon had the wealth to purchase his own personal singers and musicians and he said in his pursuit of meaning that it was all an empty endeavor (Ecclesiastes 2:8). Some may wonder if I even have joy without a song to sing but I can assure those who might doubt that I definitely do. I affirm with the greatest songwriter ever that my joy, like his joy, is found someplace other than music. Actually many of the songs David wrote were the epression of his deepest joy that he found in the word of God. He said, “The precepts of he Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.” (Psalm 19:8) and “My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right.” (Psalm 119:172)


My joy is found in the same place as David but is expressed differently than song.
I want a song in my heart again. I really don’t like this about myself and as I said, I feel very unchristian because of it. It is unnatural. Even nature sings the praises of God their creator, this truth became alive to me each morning as I watched the son rise in Mexico. The birds sang beautifully, the waves roared loudly and the palms clapped their hands in the wind. Yet here I sit, without a song on my lips- it is natural for all God’s creatures give him praise and certainly we who are made in his image should shout to the Lord as well.


The only exception I can find in the bible is the one I quoted at the start. I guess I still walk with a heavy heart and only God and time can mend the broken hearted. Some morning I will awaken and sing a new song and someday I truly believe that I will hear God himself sing over Israel. For he has promised them this, “Fear not O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you with his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zephaniah 3:16-17)

Even so, come Lord Jesus and sing over us all.

 

 

…What a wonderful world!

I am on a patio at 6:34 AM enjoying the sights, the sounds and the smells of Playa Del Carmen Mexico. Sunrise was amazing with all the shades of blue green water that a person could drink in. The birds are singing, the sound of softly rolling waves breaking on the beach and a warm south breeze is hitting my face. I love Mexico, it’s not just a nice place to visit, I could live here

imageIt is now 6:54. My wife is wandering the sand searching for me, I called to get her attention. 7:02 and we are enjoying morning coffee together with the rising sun. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world. Louis Armstrongs famous song and iconic voice keep ringing through my mind this week. “I see skies of blue, and clouds of white, the bright blessed day, the dark sacred night, and I think to myself what a wonderful world.”

Day 5

It’s now day five and I am in the same chair enjoying the same sights and sounds I have enjoyed for the past 4 sunrises. We went snorkeling yesterday in a few cenote’s. The limestone formations, the fish, the sunshine, the water and time with my wife was wonderful. Louis is still being hummed in my heart,”I see trees of green, red roses too, I see them bloom, for me and for you, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”

I am soaking in the sun. I am soaking up life. Excuse me for a moment while I get my sunrise latte and banana muffin. The resort staff are working hard to make our stay wonderful. The Mexican’s are a kind and friendly people, I really love them. They greet you with a smile and a hola all day, every day. I can hear Armstong singing again, “The color of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky, are also on the faces of people going by. I see friends shaking hands, sayin’,”How do you do?” They’re really saying’, “I love you.”

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world!

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My vacation meditatation

As a Christian I believe God is good and does good all the time. There is no darkness in him at all so I can trust that, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights. With whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)

My senses are on overload here in Mexico. God is so good to me; he is so good to us and this is never going to change. His good hand is everywhere I look in all that I see, in all that I taste, in all that I hear, smell and experience. Vacation has been refreshing! God has provided all things for me to enjoy, and I think to myself, what a wonderful God.

Yesterday we snorkeled  in a cenote that had an opening in the ceiling. The hole was perhaps 4 foot across and allowed the sun to come into the cavern. The sunbeam was simply amazing to behold as it cut through the darkness into the water and danced on the limestone floor below us. I thought of my boy Jacob as I put my hands and feet into the light that looked as if were angels dancing for Jesus. God gave me this to enjoy too. And I thought to myself, what a wonderful world- what a wonderful creator.

Life is good but life is not always pleasant. Children are a blessing from God and sometimes God takes our children away to be with him. Mexico is reminding me of all the good things God has provided for me to enjoy and of my beloved son whom he has taken away. Though terribly painful, but in a much lesser degree than Job experienced, I must respond the same way he did to the loss of my child. He lost all his children and in deep grief he lamented, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21) God is worthy to be blessed in our pleasures and in our pain. Regardless our circumstances, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:3)

God gave me 22 good years of joy with my boy. Jacob isn’t my creation he is a creation of God given to me to enjoy. I enjoyed his life thoroughly but like a sunset his life disappeared behind the horizon. With every sunset there is the hope of a sunrise. I look ahead with the psalmist who said the following.

Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. – Psalm 30:4-5

There is a sunrise coming, my son will rise again and we will dwell in a place where the sun never sets. “And the night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light and they wil reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)

Adios my friends, I am going to the pool!

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Living like a rock star

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Lake Michigan- Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore

I walked on a nearby beach for the first time recently. It is a beautiful place near our home that has been enjoyed by others for years but for us it was the very first time. We enjoyed every step along beautiful North Bar lake near Empire Michigan. Beach chairs in place we then took a stroll along Lake Michigan that runs parallel with North Bar. How often we take for granted the Great Lake in our back yard but not this day, we were taking it all in.

There are many lessons we can learn through God’s creation if we will only hear his voice in those contemplative classrooms. The following is what nature showed me as I considered my surroundings.

There is a wind cut sandy berm and the beach is littered with smooth stones perfect for skipping across the water. I picked up a few that caught my eye because of their color and beauty. Others I kept, tossing them across the waves that crashed at our feet. The variety of stones are endless, all had a different shape, a different color; many were dull and gray and really went quite unnoticed as we walked over top of them last Saturday. Others were full of color and sparkling quartz, one I picked up looked like a Leland blue stone but I decided it wasn’t and returned its sandy home.

Leland Blue

Leland Blue

Every stone had one thing in common on that beach. Each one was smoothed by the millennia of storms and waves that have crashed over them since God called them into existence. If they could speak what stories could they tell? Would we care to listen and would their journey matter to us at all?

I wondered, do we see people like we see the stones? All are very similar yet unique in themselves. Ordinary and gray, walked over, stepped on and unnoticed by the those who care to walk their way. The pretty ones get noticed and ugly ones get thrown aside and thrown into the sea of waves, forgotten by all and never to be considered again. I was struck by the thought considering all these stones that I am like them in many ways. The waves of trials in my life are shaping me, they crash on me and have been smoothing my edges over time. I noticed again that the water brings out the unseen beauty in the stones and they catch our attention. How I respond in trials is being watched, it can be ugly or it can be beautiful.

Trials shape our lives. I have reflected back on myself before the troubles came into my life and remember a hard stone of a man unshaped by any storms. I saw things in black and white, I was ridged with sharp edges but I guess there is always a hidden beauty in every stone that God has created. I am in God’s rock tumbler, I am in his polisher and the experience has been up and down and round and round. If I could go back to the old me that predates all the trouble I would decline the offer. Why? God has purpose for the pain and the polishing though difficult as it is brings out the hidden beauty in the stone. Not that there is anything beautiful in myself; it is Christ who alone who is beautiful. I’m rather ugly honestly but God recreates ugly stony hearts and reshapes them in his workshop of trials and through the renewing process of his word.

My New Testament given to me by my parents in 1996

My New Testament given to me by my parents in 1996

Trials in a life can embitter us, they can make us angry and resentful if we let our minds go to unhealthy places. But for the Christian we are to, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4ESV) Trials have their place in bringing us to completeness but without the knowledge of God in the hardship we are left confused in our circumstances. To understand suffering we must understand God and how God uses it in our lives. This can only be discovered in the word of God to us. Jesus fully understands our pain, for he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. (Isaiah 53:3)

The attached photo is of my Bible, it is dated one day after Jacob died. There is a process in place, there is an end in view for me and for you as a Christian. My enemy is seeking to eat me up and spit me out, to sift me as wheat but like Peter we have something incredible taking place in all our temptations, trials and testing’s. Jesus said, “Simon, Simon, satan has demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith not fail. And when you have returned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32 ESV) The shocking thing is that Jesus let satan go after him, but the prayer of Jesus for him and for us guards us from failing faith. Peter did return and he did strengthen his brothers after his testing’s.

Sunset on Lake Michigan near Empire

Sunset on Lake Michigan near Empire

Peter’s words are very helpful to me in this difficult stretch in my life. He tells me to be prayerful in my trials, clear-headed and alert, in humility resisting the devil. (James 4:6-8) Understanding that we are not alone in our troubles and that God’s grace is sufficient for every suffering saint. Christ himself stands with us in our purposeful suffering to “perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10-11) “To him be the glory, and the dominion forever and ever. Amen”