New Heart, 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 God shows me otherwise and bids me to throw out those outdated eight-track tapes and download His beautiful new songs.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.

Photo from http://cincinnatiit.com/11/heart-music-clef
Image from http://cincinnatiit.com/11/heart-music-clef

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

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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.

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory of His name;
Bring an offering and come into His courts.
Worship the Lord in holy attire;
Tremble before Him, all the earth.
 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved;
He will judge the peoples with equity.”

 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
Let the sea roar, and all it contains;
Let the field exult, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy
Before the Lord, for He is coming,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
And the peoples in His faithfulness.

Psalm 96 NASB

This beautiful psalm is perfect for the beginning of Advent as I anticipate Christ’s coming. Too often, I find myself singing the same old song and praying the same old prayers. This psalm lifts my heart and spirit and makes me want to join the forest and sing for joy.

Do I really think about Christ returning? I love the thought of Emmanuel and the sweet baby in the Christmas manger, but I cannot leave Him there or on the cross or in His ascension to heaven. He is coming again, and that makes me sing with great joy:)

I suppose it’s the judging that causes me to pause. I worry about how He will find me and what I will have to show Him. As soon as I say that, I remember that He is God and loves me more than I have room in my heart to hold or faith enough to understand. Judgment is going to come with Christ, but so is His love for me.  He knows, and I am learning, that this journey is about drawing near to Him and helping others do the same.

Sharing the journey is not easy because it opens my heart in uncomfortable ways, and that often gives me the urge to hide. The beautiful lessons of late have been about the difference in love in His kingdom and the world’s. Love is shared in heaven in ways it isn’t shared on earth. On earth, we hold tightly to love until it becomes lust. In His kingdom, love binds and frees at the same time. Kingdom love heals my heart and allows it to accept and give love in a way that unites and spreads.

It’s taken three years for me to understand the beautiful difference loving in God’s kingdom makes, but it’s been well worth the pain involved. All learning comes at a price; it forces me to change. That change is necessary for the growth needed to live and love in His kingdom. My heart has grown at least three sizes in three years, and it has never felt better. I thank God for loving friends and family who see me as He does and help me see the same. It allows His kingdom to come and His will to be done in my heart, and that makes me sing a new song, “and worship God in the beauty of holiness.” KJV