Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Just Sing

Sing praise to God, sing praise;
sing praise to our King, sing praise!
Sing a song of wisdom,
for God is King of all the earth.
Psalm 47:6-7

My mother tells me I sang the ABC's before I could speak. My earliest memories include song and books; I cannot recall a time when I did not know how to read or play the piano. My sisters and I frequently sang and danced about the living room to my parents' records, starting with children's albums and progressing to show tunes.

Church and school choir participation was a given, no matter how challenging school became or how time-consuming other activities might be. In fact, my most positive adolescent social experiences, beyond a shadow of doubt, involved Revelation!, our church youth choir. Choir at school, the last bastion of Christian proclamation in the public schools here, was an oasis amid the desert of cutthroat academic competition in other classes.

Church music became such a home to me that I entered university as a sacred music major. Even after that dream shattered, I led music for AWANA worship and a girls' Bible study and continued to sing habitually at home.

Why the resume?

That history provides a context for my recent realization that the singing has mostly stopped in my life.

How did this happen?

First, I stopped singing unless I was alone. Add marriage, frequent travel, and apartment living, and soon I only sang when I was alone in the car. That gradually constricted to the point that now I seldom sing outside of church. If I can hear the opening and closing of our mailbox from inside, passersby outside can hear me. If they can hear me, they might mock or throw rotten tomatoes at the house or hide their children from the crazy dog lady who sings for no reason.

In short, I have listened to my inner Simon Cowell instead of the plethora of commands in Scripture to sing God's praises. (And nowhere have I found a loophole such as "if you have a good voice.") If I sing out loud instead of just in my head, I might get voted out of polite society. People might think I'm odd, or even worse--joyful.

On the other hand, if I rebuild a singing habit, particularly a habit of singing praise and thanksgiving to God, my blood pressure and breathing might improve.  I might "feel comforted, strengthened, uplifted, able to endure and able to find peace" amidst life's relentless stressors. The Lord might set ambushes against my enemies (2 Chron. 20). His glorious presence might settle upon me (2 Chron. 5:13-14). The body of Christ might be edified (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Prisoners might be set free; hearts might open to the love of Christ (Acts 16:25-40). I might be set free. I might receive the blessing of those who hear the word of God and do it (Luke 11:28). Then where would we be?

After weighing this tough decision, I aim to spend the rest of 2012 opening my heart to God's filling by opening my mouth in His praises. Since my ankle injury has me grounded from morning walks for at least 2 more weeks, I have the perfect opportunity to start with baby steps. The neighborhood is quiet at 6 a.m., and with even Amore and Ebony gone, it truly feels like no one will hear me but God.

Perhaps someday I'll be as brave as my friend Kate and let you all listen in, but for right now I need to start small and sing loudly enough to drown out my inner critic. This morning I opened a hymnal to the first song and started through a journey to get reacquainted with old friends and discover some new ones along the way. From there, we'll see what God does.

In the comments, perhaps you'd like to share: do you sing? If so, how has that blessed you? Do you have a beloved praise song you sing most often? If not, why not?

Learning to sing again does not, however, preclude counting my blessings in print:
~ Jesus, the heart of every melody and the melody in my heart
~ the quiet anonymity of the city before dawn
~ God and my mom like my voice
~ so many good choir memories
~ hymnals
~ devotions by the light of the Christmas tree
~ handknit wool socks on my feet
~ and an ice pack on one
~ courage to disappoint someone by declining a nonessential but stressful event
~ quiet Thanksgiving with Mezzo and my parents
~ coming home with leftovers
~ pecan pie
~ the smell of freshly ground coffee
~ an arsenal of physical therapy exercises to combat the weight of the boot and the lack of walking
~ the amazing job the surgeon did to minimize scarring
~ the admirable success of Dawn's grease-cutting power to remove antibacterial ointment from my hair (yes, really)
~ good reminders in Sunday's sermon that the way we view our giants determines how we deal with them and that the faithfulness of God is greater than the features of my giants
(#8147-8163, aiming towards 10,000)

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