Years ago, a quirky TV character, Ally McBeal, made a lasting impression on me when her new therapist suggested that the first step to regaining her confidence was finding a song theme for her life. I decided in that moment that I needed one too: wonderful words and an uplifting tune that would pick me up when I was feeling down and remind me of what was most important in my life.
Fortunately, as I have
aged matured grown, my life song has evolved too.
In my 20’s, Chesney Hawkes helped me hold onto my uniqueness with I am the one and only. In my 30’s as I candidated for ministry, it was Nichole Nordeman who reminded me to be brave. Just last year, Matt Redman set me singing the 10000 reasons I have to bless the Lord with certainty and joy.
But in Psalm 40:3, the poet king David reveals the deep yearning of God to set a new song in our hearts.
This new song is based on the assurance of what God has done and the certainty of the marvelous things that God is still to do.
You, Lord God, have done
many wonderful things,
and you have planned
marvelous things for us.
No one is like you!
I would never be able to tell
all you have done. ~ verse 5 (CEV)
One of the remarkable gifts of growing older is the wealth of evidence that our life’s experience provides us with concerning God’s presence and protection in times of turmoil and trouble. With each hard thing that we encounter and come through – bruised but still beloved, oftentimes stronger and wiser – blessings of faith are added that God walks with and, indeed, often carries us through the muck and miry clay that life so often throws our way.
Each moment of grace, every experience of salvation becomes a line, a note, in a new song of praise that informs our expectations concerning the future; for if God has been faithful in the past, surely we can be set free to face the future less fearfully.
Unfortunately, however, there are other voices that seek to drown out this new song.
Voices of temptation: the false promises of money, sex, and power that lead us in the wrong direction despite oftentimes good intentions; that temporarily assauge our doubts, our fears, our insecurities without addressing the underlying issues of our shadow selves; that provide an illusion of firmer ground from which to speak and be and act until it all gives way.
You bless all of those
who trust you, Lord,
and refuse to worship idols
or follow false gods. ~ verse 4 (CEV)
But also voices of religious legalism and rigidity that make love conditional: good and proper sounding practices and procedures that make us feel a little too unworthy to walk with a holy God until we’ve got our behavior under control; or church-imposed demands to give, to serve, to share in a certain manner or at a certain level in order to truly belong.
Sacrifices and offerings
are not what please you;
gifts and payment for sin
are not what you demand.
But you made me willing
to listen and obey. ~ verse 6 (CEV)
Yet it is God himself/herself who makes us worthy, who makes us willing, who gives us this new song to sing.
And it’s important that we sing our new song until it resonates outwards – throughout the world.
A song has no meaning, no purpose, unless it is sung. And when one person starts singing, it is amazing how quickly others start to sing along. If the lyrics are simple enough, even those who have never heard it before are soon humming too.
And how simple is the Psalmist’s refrain?
Our Lord always helps!
Our Lord is kind.
He is faithful and caring,
and he saves us.
When your people worshiped,
you know I told them,
“Our Lord always helps!”
When all your people met,
I did not keep silent.
I said, “Our Lord is kind.
He is faithful and caring,
and he saves us.” ~ verses 9 and 10 (CEV)
The voices on the rise in our world today – particularly on the political front – are singing untruths and half-truths to advance agendas of hatred and suspicion, of greed and self-gain, of ostracism and self-preservation at any cost.
“Let’s make ourselves great again” will resound through the nations unless we provide an alternate song: “all glory to the God who has pity on us. May your love and your faithfulness keep us secure.”