Popped strings, and other favorites tunes.

guitarAs a past worship leader, I appreciate, at least in a small degree, the importance and effort that goes into putting song sets together for the congregation.  In the case of contemporary music, there’s rhythm and flow to be considered, as well as your team’s availability for that week, and hopefully prayerful discernment. 

Of course, then I would break a guitar string in them middle of it all, and God shows His sense of humor…Not only does the string almost hit you in the face, but it throws the rest of the instrument out of tune, and naturally it can’t happen during practice, oh no, but during the set, in front of the congregation.

So then there’s life, well planned, even prayerfully so, and then…

…BOOOIIIINNNGGG!  (And usually not in private, right?)

Kinda sounds like this worship leader from a long time ago.  His name was Heman, an ancestor of Ezra, so he’s got an impressive Hebrew pedigree. The note at the beginning of his song reads as follows:

“A song to be sung to the tune ‘The Suffering of Affliction.’”

(…because that would certainly be a go-to for a Sunday morning.)

“O Lord, God of my salvation,
    I cry out to you by day.
    I come to you at night.”

Starts out okay, but kinda plays on that “out of tune instrument” from then on.

“For my life is full of troubles,
    and death draws near.
I am as good as dead,
    like a strong man with no strength left.
They have left me among the dead,
    and I lie like a corpse in a grave.
I am forgotten,
    cut off from your care.
You have thrown me into the lowest pit,
    into the darkest depths.”

ETC, etc, etc…. Then he says this.

“Can those in the grave declare your unfailing love?
    Can they proclaim your faithfulness in the place of destruction?
Can the darkness speak of your wonderful deeds?
    Can anyone in the land of forgetfulness talk about your righteousness?”

Now, c’mon, how can he talk about God forgetting him (and worse) in one breath, and in the other speak of God’s unfailing love and faithfulness, His wonderful deeds and His righteousness??

Something tells me this is more about Heman reminding himself of God’s goodness, than reminding God to take care of him. Obviously, somewhere in his past, Heman has an intimate history with the Deity of his ancestors, as well as a working knowledge of God’s unchanging character leading up to this personal crisis.  He’s hurting, but not hopeless.  He’s frustrated, but in still fanning the flames of faith.

I find it most informative, and incredibly encouraging, that God has included Heman’s depressing little song of woe in the eternal Word of the Ages, alongside “the Lord is my Shepherd”, and “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”, and “those who live in the shelter of the Most High”, and “I will lift my eyes to the hills”.  It allows me to be real with my Father Who art in Heaven, even though His name be hallowed. 

He’s got big enough shoulders to cry on.

But then, there is plenty of reason to dry the tears also.  Because, as Heman’s song shows by its very poetic construction, God’s “unfailing love, faithfulness, wonderful deeds, and righteousness” are in there, smack-dab in the middle of my mucky life situations (“grave, destruction, darkness and forgetfulness”)!

Like Heman’s predecessor and fellow hymn-writer (King David) penned, “yea, though I walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with me…” (Emphasis mine.)

And that’s something to smile about.

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Psalm 88:1,3-6,11-12 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

We Are All Wounded

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Here is a beautiful piece by poet Deborah Ann Belka.  Please see her site for more at https://poetrybydeborahann.wordpress.com.  I love how she articulates that we are all, in some way, dealing with the pain of fallen humanity.  Please leave your comments!  (As always, here’s my disclaimer.)

We Are All Wounded

We are all wounded,
from the battles of life
we all carry with us
scars from the strife.

We have all suffered,
the pain of depression
each of us has felt
the sting of rejection.

We are all wounded,
damaged in some way
we all carry with us
the hurts of yesterday.

We all need healing,
from the harm done
we all need someone
to whom we can run.

We are all wounded,
in need of comforting
we all need Jesus . . .
to ease our suffering!

~~~~~~~~

Isaiah 51:12

“I, even I, am he
 that comforteth you:”

King James Version
by Public Domain

Copyright 2015
Deborah Ann Belka (used with permission)

https://poetrybydeborahann.wordpress.com

Field of dreams,…oops, I mean lentils

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I like lentils.  They’re probably not a fast moving item at the grocery, but they make a good soup.  To me, lentils come in a plastic bag, ready to be washed and cooked.  Never gave it much lentilsthought beyond that, until I read this story….

Once upon a time, David’s Israelite army was (yet again) fighting the Philistine army.  That’s hand to hand combat, close encounters of the really scary and dangerous kind, but this time the face off was not among the caves or in the valley, it was in the middle of a field of growing lentils. (Pity the poor farmer.) The battle was so fierce that the Israelites all retreated…except one guy named Shammah.

Here’s the quote: “ Now after him was Shammah the son of Agee a Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered into a troop where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the people fled from the Philistines.   But he took his stand in the midst of the plot, defended it… ” (1)

I wondered why it was significant enough to include the part about lentils??  So I looked up what a “field of lentils” might look like.  Ouch.  Don’t every try to fight Philistines in a field of flowering lentils.  The plants grow to between 18 to 24 inches high and have branching vines, and I can only imagine what the footing would be like!

So here’s Shammah in the middle of tall, vining flora twisting around his feet with taller, fierce Philistines going for his throat.  By himself.  Abandoned.

Most of us can relate.  We’re doing what God wants us to do, to the best we can, when suddenly all those who were fighting with us in this thing called life up and retreat.  Not only do we still have to face the attackers, but the vines of depression, disillusionment and despair keep threating to make us fall right onto the enemy’s sword.  We are by ourselves.  Abandoned.

Well, not exactly.  Like good ole’ Paul Harvey would say, here’s the “rest of the story”:

“…and struck the Philistines; and the Lord brought about a great victory.”

Interesting how one person that stands his ground plus God equals more than a whole army.  In fact, just in the chapter before this story, David writes how God makes our hands ready for battle, how by our Lord we can run over a troop. (2)

Just a little encouragement.  Stand your ground with God.   (And try some lentils next time you’re at the store.)

To be continued….

  • 2 Samuel 23: 11-12, NASB
  • 2 Samuel 22