The End of My Hope

I got to the end of my hope yesterday and was feeling sorry for myself because it became clear in my heart that God wasn’t going to give me what I wanted. He quickly brought me back to my senses by gently reminding me that what He has provided, is providing, and will continue to provide is what’s best for me. God is love and knows me better than I know myself, but I continue to hang on to my hope. I suppose it’s human nature to want what I want, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who sings the same song over and over again in hopes that God will change His mind and come over to my way of thinking.

I’ve always loved the expression, “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on,” so when I got to the end of my hope, I tied a knot in my heart, and held on for dear life. It’s easy to spot someone who’s at the end of their hope because they are always trying to convince everyone they are right. I’ve been trying to convince God and myself that what I want is best, but neither of us is buying it. The trouble with hanging on to an actual rope is that my arms wear out very quickly because they are in an awkward and unnatural position. The same is true for my heart when I stubbornly hold on to my hope. It ties my heart in knots and leaves me hanging hopelessly between what I want and what God has for me.

God placed Psalm 96:1-6 in my path to help me see my heart’s need for a new song. I have always loved the beautiful song, and it helped me let go of my hope and fall into God’s loving arms. It was healing to feel the knots in my heart slowly come undone and relax in His Hope. God’s Hope is in His Son’s precious love, and there is no holding on involved with it. I simply have to let go and let Christ do the holding.

I’ve always been one to think I had to do and carry or fix and fuse when it comes to love. God showed me with His sweet psalm that my heart is designed to sing to Him. When I do that, my hope is an unraveling rope allowing my heart to let go and lift up a new song of thanksgiving and praise. I’ve never held on to a real rope for more than a few minutes, but I vividly remember climbing a rope in high school P.E. class. It was the worst ten minutes of my young life. My heart had been holding on much longer and hurt far worse than my arms did when climbing that big rope up to the gym ceiling.

I suppose it’s appropriate that I climbed that rope in gym class back in the sixties and my heart finally let go of my hope in my sixties. I remember the sweet relief when I finally passed the rope test in P.E. I wanted to shout and sing and dance with joy! I suppose that was the point of the rope test I dreaded for an entire year before actually passing it. I felt a thousand times more relieved when I decided to let go of my hope and let God’s love untie the knots in my heart. It made me want to dance and sing a new song!

Sing to the Lord a new song;

Sing to the Lord, all the earth.

Sing to the Lord, bless His name;

Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.

Tell of His glory among the nations,His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.

For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised;He is to be feared above all gods.

For all the gods of the peoples are idols,But the Lord made the heavens.

Splendor and majesty are before Him,

Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.”

Psalm 96:1 NASB

One-Of-A-Kind Heart

How can I read Psalm 138 and not sing aloud to God. David had many faults, and so do I; but he loved God in a way that touched God’s heart, and I want to do the same. God doesn’t need perfect children; He simply wants to be loved. It’s what David wanted, and it’s what we all want.

I will give You thanks with all my heart;

I will sing praises to You before the gods.

I will bow down toward Your holy temple

And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth;

For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name.

On the day I called, You answered me;

You made me bold with strength in my soul.

 All the kings of the earth will give thanks to You,

O Lord,When they have heard the words of Your mouth.

And they will sing of the ways of the Lord,

For great is the glory of the Lord.

For though the Lord is exalted,Yet He regards the lowly,

But the haughty He knows from afar.

 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;

You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies,

And Your right hand will save me.

The Lord will accomplish what concerns me;Your lovingkindness,

O Lord, is everlasting;Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” NASB

God is Love, and my heart is a one of a kind creation designed especially by Him.  According to Reverso,”Designer clothes or designer labels are expensive, fashionable clothes made by a famous designer, rather than being made in large quantities in a factory.”  Designer labels are expensive, but they do not compare with a one-of-a-kind creation which is, according to dictionary.com, “ unique; pertaining to a singular example.”

A singular example perfectly describes my heart which is one of a kind and cannot ever be duplicated. If I had an identical twin with the exact same heart, mine would still be unique because hearts are more than simple cells put together to form an organ. My heart has nothing to do with the organ that shares its name. My heart is the part of me that will live on long after I am dead. It is at my very core and is what makes me, me. It longs to do what it was created to do – love and be loved by God and others.

God designed my heart to love Him, and He loved me first. That is a powerful truth when I hold it next to my heart. It gives me hope just as it gave David hope and will give my granddaughters and their granddaughters hope. That’s the beauty of a heart, and  I cannot help but sing out in thanksgiving when I wrap my heart around God’s love. Psalm 138 is a perfect example of just such thanksgiving. I hear David’s heart in a powerful way.

I’ve given my heart to those who have hurt it deeply, and I’ve hidden it away in fear. I’ve also known the feeling of love in its truest form, and that gives me a taste of what God has in store. True love is about sharing the truth with love, and no one is better than God when it comes to that. It makes me want to sing, and that’s the best sign that my heart is right where it needs to be:)

Music Lessons for My Heart

The lessons this week were about singing. God bid me to sing a new song and reminded me that He is love, and love makes my heart want to sing. Yesterday morning as I sat down to breakfast with my prayer partners, “Till There Was You” began to play. I love that song because it is about love making me see, hear, and feel in a whole new way. God’s love makes me want to sing and share the feeling with others.

The simple little song from Music Man says it all; like Marian the librarian, I was a little late getting to the bridge, but I am thankful for the gift of love. It took me a while to see that love is truly a gift that should be cherished because it opens so much more than my heart. In case you aren’t familiar with the song, here are the lyrics:

Till There Was You byMarian:

There were bells on the hill

But I never heard them ringing,

No, I never heard them at all

Till there was you.

There were birds in the sky

But I never saw them winging

No, I never saw them at allTill there was you.

And there was music,

And there were wonderful roses,

They tell me,

In sweet fragrant meadows of dawn, and dew.

There was love all around

But I never heard it singing

No, I never heard it at all

Till there was you!

It is the perfect theme song for this wonderful week of learning because it says exactly what my heart is feeling right now. Musicals have the tendency to put songs in my head and heart, and I’m thankful for Shirley Jones and her beautiful rendition of the song. The Beatles, Ray Charles, and Rod Stewart also sing the song well, but I love imagining that sweet kiss on the bridge because it is a sweet epiphany about love. That’s the way I would describe my learning this week, so I’ll keep the song near my heart to remind me that the gift of love brings out the song in my heart. Like Marian, I plan to enjoy all the sweet gifts God puts in my path and sing with abandon!

At the end of aerobics last night, Ethel and I caused the class to giggle with glee as we burst out singing Till There Was You with abandon. It was the perfect ending to a perfect week, and I thank God for putting the song in my path yesterday. The week began with a beautiful Psalm reminding me to sing a new song, and ended with a sweet musical that reminded me that love is all around if I will only open my heart and embrace it. Needless to say, my heart rate went up substantially this week:)

Like a Lark

Since the week’s lessons have been filled with music and musicals, it didn’t surprise me to have “The Sound of Music” in my path this morning. If this theme continues, folks might begin to think I’ve lost my mind. That’s usually what the world thinks when people go around singing Broadway songs, but those who know and love me me won’t be surprised at all.

The beautiful message this week is that praying is singing that comes from deep within my heart. David is a perfect example of just that. His psalms continue to touch hearts thousands of years after he wrote them. They are prayers that touch the very heart of God. Perfection isn’t what God desires; He simply wants me to be after His own heart and pray as though I am conversing with a dear friend who knows my heart or singing with abandon like a lark on the hillside.  This verse was part of the lessons God had for me this week. It is a beautiful description of prayer that blesses my heart and changes the way I pray.

From “The Sound of Music”

My heart wants to beat like the wings of the birdsthat rise from the lake to the trees

My heart wants to sigh like a chime that fliesfrom a church on a breeze

To laugh like a brook when it trips and falls overstones on its way

To sing through the night like a lark who is learning to pray

I was especially touched by the last line, “To sing through the night like a lark who is learning to pray.” I can relate to birds, and if you’ve followed my story, you understand why. Mama loved birds, and I have always loved them too. God has used sparrows, parakeets, crows, peacocks, eagles, and little canaries to teach me important lessons, but I was surprised by the praying lark He placed in my path this morning.

This week, I sat with a dear friend and talked about God’s Word, prayed and communed with my prayer partners, spent time with friends I rarely see, talked with my sweet granddaughters, and sang with abandon. I learned that prayer is as natural as breathing, talking, and singing. I feel very like that lark who is learning to pray. She doesn’t struggle or worry about whether or not the notes come out correctly or whether others understand her song; she just opens her heart and sings with love. I’m learning to pray the same way.

All God Asks

God asks only one thing of me, and that is to love Him. Not surprisingly, He used “All I Ask of You” from “The Phantom of the Opera” to get His point across to me this afternoon. I am not a big fan of musicals, so part of the learning this week has been a greater appreciation for them. While I’ve never seen the play, I love the song because it was a favorite of a dear friend of mine. Dorothy’s son and daughter recorded a beautiful rendition of the song, and she gave a copy of it to me. It spoke to my heart when she gave it to me, and it touched me, once again, as I listened to it today.

Dorothy loved music, and she had an incredible voice. She sang all the time, and I loved to stop what I was doing and listen when she burst into song. She once told me that she only knew one way to sing, and that was to just belt the words out with all her heart. It was also the way she loved, and that was especially true when it came to God. I learned a lot about God, love, and singing from Dorothy. I am learning that the three go together beautifully. Dorothy loved me, and that love changed me. I hope my love changed her, as well. Love does, indeed, change everything it touches.

All I Ask of You

Andrew Lloyd Webber

No more talk of darkness,

Forget these wide-eyed fears.

I’m here, nothing can harm you –

my words will warm and calm you.

Let me be your freedom,

let daylight dry -your tears.

I’m here, with you, beside you,

to guard you and to guide you . . .

Say you love me every waking moment,

turn my head with talk of summertime . . .

Say you need me with you,

now and always . . .

promise me that all

you say is true –

that’s all I ask of you . . .

Let me be your shelter,

let me be your light.

You’re safe: No-one will find you

your fears are far behind you . . .

All I want is freedom,

a world with no more night . . .

and you always beside me

to hold me and to hide me . . .

Then say you’ll share with

me one love, one lifetime . . .

let me lead you from your solitude . . .

Say you need me with you

here, beside you . . .

anywhere you go,

let me go too –

Christine,

that’s all I ask of you . . .

Say you’ll share with

me one love, one lifetime . . .

say the word

and I will follow you . . .

Share each day with

me, each night, each morning . . .

Say you love me . . .

You know I do . . .

Love me –

that’s all I ask of you . . .

Anywhere you go

let me go too . . .

Love me – that’s all I ask of you . .

The song is a desire to be loved and share honestly and completely with another. It’s what God asks of me. The last lines are powerful ones when applied to loving God. I pray I will make sure that anywhere I go, He will go too. I know that’s up to me.

To be blessed with one love and one lifetime is a gift, and God is the best example of that type of love. Love is for a lifetime and leads me out of my solitude if I am willing to accept it. God’s lessons this week have left me wanting to sing as Dorothy sang. Love makes my heart want to sing, and there is nothing I enjoy more than singing praise songs to Him. I’ve always thought of musicals as a little corny, but I’m finding the songs God continues to place in my path are just what my heart needs. I have to admit that those songs have made me want to sing along, and that’s what loving God and others is all about:)

Holy Singing!

My studies took me to Isaiah this week. One word describes the prophet’s words about God. Holy. Eugene Peterson says it best in The Invitation, “We find ourselves in on the operations of God himself, not talking about them or reading about them. Holiness is a furnace that transforms the men and women who enter it. Holy, Holy, Holy is not needlepoint. It is the banner of a revolution, the revolution.” He goes on to say, “He (God) uses everything and everybody as material for his work, which is the remaking of the mess we have made of our lives.”

Isaiah means “God saves,” and his poetry brings, according to Peterson, “Messages of Judgment (chapters 1-39), Messages of Comfort (chapters 40-55), and Messages of Hope (chapters 56-66). Holiness is the goal on this journey, and I’m finding that love leads to praying, and praying leads to singing. Singing is wonderful for my soul and brings me into God’s presence in a powerful way.The songs have been interesting this week, but I realize they were meant to make me to think about falling in love and singing a new song as a result of that love. To know God is to love Him, and my heart cannot do less than sing when I love and pray to Him.

I realized this week that I’ve lusted after God more than I’ve loved Him. Give me this. Help me do this. Fix this. Heal me. Heal others. Praying and loving are so much more than I understood before, and that is where the singing comes in. John describes the song I will sing when I come into God’s presence. I am learning I can sing it now if I allow love to give my heart wings.

And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.’ And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.’”Revelation 4:8-11 NASB

Those beautiful words have inspired many songs, and two of my favorites are “Holy Holy Holy” by Reginald Heber and “Holy Holy” by Nathan Fellingham. Both touch my heart in the same beautiful place, where God resides. Holy simply means mature, ripe, and ready to be picked. I used to think it meant perfect. Silly me! I’m learning that holy is much more than being who I think God wants me to be. Isaiah helped me come to the place of understanding John’s beautiful words. I can sing those favorite songs of mine with a new vigor knowing my heart is ripening a little more each time I sing out to the God I love more than life itself.

Holy Holy Holy

Reginald Heber

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy Holy

Written By: Nathan Fellingham

Holy, holy, 

Holy is the Lord God Almighty.

Holy, holy,

Holy is the Lord God Almighty.

Who was and is and is to come,

Who was and is and is to come.

Lift up His name with the sound of singing,

Lift up His name in all the earth.

Lift up Your voice and give Him glory

For He is worthy to be praised.

Jesus, Jesus,

Jesus is the Lord God Almighty.

Jesus, Jesus,

Jesus is the Lord God Almighty.

Who was and is and is to come,

Who was and is and is to come.

Lift up His name with the sound of singing,

Lift up His name in all the earth.

Lift up Your voice and give Him glory

For He is worthy to be praised.

I am closer to God and to those in my path as a result of the lessons this week, and I am lifting my heart in a new way and singing a new song because of it!

New Heart, New New Song

I can’t sing a new song until I get the old ones out of my heart, so I wasn’t surprised when God put the Four Tops and “It’s the Same Old Song” in my path this week. I used to love that song, and that’s exactly the point of the lesson God had for me. “Used to” is the key phrase in the song and His message.

My old love songs say I’m not worthy when it comes to love, and I believed them far too long. I lived up to their lyrics and let my heart linger in a loveless limbo believing love was for others and not for me. God shows me otherwise and bids me to throw out those outdated eight-track tapes and download His beautiful new songs.

Musicals and seventies songs have reminded me how easily songs can get stuck in my head and my heart, but Psalm 96 bids me to sing a new song. Old songs have to take on a different meaning before I can let them go. God tunes my heart to sing His songs and love as He desires. I know I’m loved, and that makes my heart want to sing.

Listening to old songs isn’t a bad thing, and I have favorites that bless me over and over. Letting lost love define me is a bad thing, and pining away for what never was mine is worse. God bids me to see myself in His light and listen to His love songs. No one captures God’s heart more than David; he was a man after God’s own heart, and it shows in the songs he sang. There are happy and sad songs when it comes to love, but dwelling on the ‘can’t have’ or ‘don’t deserve’ leaves my heart stuck in a rut that gets deeper and deeper each time I listen.

Singing a new song requires letting God’s lyrics lead when it comes to love. I learned this week that I still equate love with pleasing and doing. Love is about delighting and being. Love changes everything, and being loved gives my heart the courage to move a little closer to God, love myself, and love others as God desires.

God used humor and music to teach important lessons, and the truth honestly spoken opened the doors of my heart in a way that allowed me to toss my old tapes and start downloading new ones. Old love songs can make me swoon and cry or grin and shake my head. It was nice to smile, shake my head, and realize I am not who I used to be. I could see God grin and say, “That’s my girl!” It’s the reaction all parents have when our children begin to see themselves the way we do.

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