May 5

“When they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushments… and they were smitten.” 2 Chronicles 20:22

Oh, that we could reason less about our troubles, and sing and praise more! There are thousands of things that we wear as shackles which we might use as instruments with music in them, if we only knew how. Those men that ponder, and meditate, and weigh the affairs of life, and study the mysterious developments of God’s providence, and wonder why they should be burdened and thwarted and hampered—how different and how much more joyful would be their lives, if, instead of forever indulging in self-revolving and inward thinking, they would take their experiences, day by day, and lift them up, and praise God for them.

We can sing our cares away easier than we can reason them away. Sing in the morning. The birds are the earliest to sing, and birds are more without care than anything else that I know of. Sing at evening. Singing is the last thing that robins do. When they have done their daily work; when they have flown their last flight, and picked up their last morsel of food, then on a topmost twig, they sing one song of praise.

Oh, that we might sing morning and evening, and let song touch song all the way through. (Streams in the Desert)

Music and memory go hand-in-hand. Funny how often I forget that I remember something. It happened again when I randomly tuned in a Christian station in South Michigan and heard an old hymn that elicited emotions so powerful that I was physically affected (I discreetly wept). I had forgotten that I remember the moving text of, “My Lord is near me all the time.” From the first line, this hymn composed by Barbara Fowler Gaultney awakened deeply embedded childhood memories. One moment I was behind the steering wheel of an Avis rental car; the next I was transported back to Trinity Baptist Church in Port Arthur, Texas, sitting as a boy on curved plywood theater seats that were fastened to an asbestos tile floor. Men wore polyester suits with wide ties, women were in knit dresses and panty hose, and choir members wrapped in blue satin robes with gold satin stoles sang out:

When the thunder shakes the mighty hills
And trembles ev’ry tree, Then I know a God so great and strong Can surely harbor me
.

More than anything else I remember God’s closeness. Years later, I read the works of Francis Schaefer, who liked to speak of the “God who is there.” I do not disagree with his theology, but more than ever I cling to the memory that God is near and am increasingly relying on the present reality of a God who is here. I had forgotten that I remember just how much I need a loving Father to embrace and harbor me.

In the lightning flash across the sky
His mighty pow’r I see,
And I know if He can reign on high,
His light can shine on me.

I’ve seen it in the lightning, heard it in the thunder,
And felt it in the rain;
My Lord is near me all the time,
My Lord is near me all the time.

When the thunder shakes the mighty hills
And trembles ev’ry tree,
Then I know a God so great and strong
Can surely harbor me.

I’ve seen it in the lightning, heard it in the thunder,
And felt it in the rain;
My Lord is near me all the time,
My Lord is near me all the time.

When refreshing showers cool the earth
And sweep across the sea,
Then His rainbow shines within my heart,
His nearness comforts me.

I’ve seen it in the lightning, heard it in the thunder,
And felt it in the rain;
My Lord is near me all the time,
My Lord is near me all the time.

(“My Lord Is Near Me All the Time”, words and music by Barbara Fowler Gaultney)

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One thought on “May 5

  1. Thankful that my Lord is near me ALL THE TIME! Having a service today to honor our senior citizens…. all the old hymns. Ring sung. Looking forward to it

    Like

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