Jul 9, 2013

a painting and a song

I'm going to take a bit of a break from recapping adventures to different countries and spend some time recapping a different kind of adventure. But really,  I suppose it still counts as traveling because I am in the process of going from one place to another, except instead of hopping on a plane, I am reminded to drop to my knees.

You see, this is more of a journey of hope.

I feel like God gives us each certain songs to sing for specific seasons of life.  Some seasons bring the exuberant and joyful tones of a bird welcoming the warm sunshine of spring. Other seasons are more closely paralleled to a winter bird in a blistery storm, when we go through experiences that challenge and threaten to tear us down. But so often, it is in these trials that a sweeter, more beautiful song is born.

"Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night?" {Job 35:10}

My Faithful Father has so often brought a song of hope, harmonious with the strong and resonant music of His perfect providence. I recently found out some news that momentarily threatened to shake my foundation. It's useless to explain the long story, but to sum it up, I had been waiting to hear about a federal loan forgiveness grant that I had been relying on to become debt-free from loans accrued in my undergraduate and graduate degrees. This may seem trivial, but to a self-proclaimed finacialphobic who highly dislikes words like 'interest' and 'principal', it was devastating.

You see, I am a planner. I find comfort in itineraries, lists, and calendars. I need to know what will happen and when. But so often in the past few years, God has gently reminded me that His plans are best for me, and those plans are much different that would I deemed best.

" "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways", declares the Lord" {Isaiah 55:8}

In my minds eye, it made sense. I would have my loans paid off in two years and I would be able to have more freedom to travel and do missionary work. It sounded right, right?! And yet, even something that seems wise in the world's eyes or even godly may not be lined up to what God knows is even better. He doesn't run by my timetable and is not constrained by my check-off list. His ways are far better and yet why do I lean on my own efforts for control and security? Where is my trust in His all-surpassing knowledge and  providence in every area of my life, be it financial, relationships, health, or career?

It seems I have been learning the same lesson over and over for at least five years, and yet I seem to return too often to the recesses of my familiar grounds. I seek control when I should seek utter abandon and surrender to the One who knows me best, my Father God.

In the midst of my anxious thoughts and worries that morning I read my denial letter, a prayer came to mind. A few months prior, when sealing up my application, I prayed over envelope. I submitted it to the hands of God before the hands of man. I remember asking God to do what He wants with the application. I asked God to comfort my heart if I get denied and to trust that it would be in His hands if so. And as I had tears streaked on my face on my lonely commute to work that morning, I prayed that prayer again. I opened my trembling hands out to God and asked Him to take hold of my plans, dreams, and expectations, and do what He knows is best. What freedom in surrender. What joy. What song of deliverance from the burden of trying to hold it together all the time.

The lesson of surrender is one I am daily still learning. So often I pray such prayers and yield my plans to God, only to try to grab it out of His hands, as if to say, "Oh, wait, God, let me fix this. I know just the thing that will make this better!" This is similar to a preschooler walking up to a Claude Monet or Da Vinci and trying to tell him how to create a masterpiece. How much more does the Master Artist, the God of Creation, desires to paint a masterpiece for each of His beloved children. I need to stop trying to snatch the paint brush from His masterful hands, keep my mouth from blurting out how He should stop painting so many dark shadows in my masterpiece, and instead, see that each of His well-placed brush strokes bring out dimensions and depth to the end result. The shadows and seemingly ugly corners are as much needed as the enjoyable pastels and vibrant shades.

So, yes, my heart is singing a melody. For in the dark night of uncertainty, confusion, and fear, God is composing my song.

"Dear soul, in this life you are receiving a music lesson from your Father. 
You are being trained to sing in a choir you cannot yet see, 
and there will be parts of the chorus that only you can sing. . .
In the valley He is tuning your voice. In the storm clouds He is deepening your range.
 In the rain showers He is sweetening your melody. In the cold He is giving your notes expression. 
And as you pass at times from hope to fear, He is perfecting the message in your lyrics" 
{George Matheson}

So whether you've heard some hard news this week, you're filled with loneliness or despair, or you just want to cling to your own plans and dreams, I hope this brings a sweet melody to your heart of the faithfulness of God through the dark nights.

Is the midst closing 'round you?
Are the shadows dark and long?
Ask Him to come close beside you,
And He'll give you a new, sweet song.

He'll give it and sing it with you;
And when weakness slows you down,
He'll take up the broken cadence,
And blend it with His own.

And many a heavenly singer
Among those songs of light,
Will say of His sweetest music, 
"I learned it in the night."
And many a lovely anthem,
That fills the Father's home,
Sobbed out its first rehearsal,
In the shade of a darkened room. 
{from Streams of the Desert, by L.B. Cowman}


I ended up journaling a few days later and listing (here I go with my lists again!) a few of the times in the last few years that God's 'No' ended up being a blessing in disguise. Whether it was being denied multiple "dream jobs", moving from a city I had come to love, or being single at 27 (which was definitely not on my my ten-year plan), God has been teaching me that His view of the masterpiece is much clearer than my near-sighted view.

Friend, keep on singing.

1 comment:

  1. This is absolutely beautiful. I loved this post, and will pray with you that all will work out, as I know it will! love Katie


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Elle Alice