“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness. Come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”
Psalm 100:1-4 (KJV)
My grandparent’s home was enormous with a broad porch that wrapped around three sides of the two-story house. On lazy summer afternoons, our granddaddy Tuck and our uncles talked and rocked in the early evening breeze. On the opposite side of the porch, my sisters, Margaret, Janice, and I laughed and sang as we swung in a hammock.
The house stood on a corner lot near the college campus and was only a short walk through the woods to the downtown area of Greenville. So once in a while, we raced along dirt trails beneath the trees to the local drugstore. We ran in and climbed up on tall bar stools with a coin clasped in our hands to order sodas. Sipping an occasional cherry or vanilla coke was a favorite childhood pleasure.
Every Sunday morning, my sisters and I put on fancy dresses and patent leather shoes, and with a small offering clasped in little hands, walked down the wide concrete steps of the home along the sidewalk through the neighborhood to the modest church. After class, we rushed from Sunday school into the sanctuary, grabbed an empty pew near the front and slid along a smooth bench to save Mama Tuck and mom a spot.
During worship, uplifting lyrics of old hymns such as “Love Lifted Me” overflowed from the organ. The blending of piano tones with the inspired words of old hymns filled the atmosphere as the soothing sound drifted towards the congregation as if God, in all his holiness, wandered the aisles among his people. His presence rained upon the congregation and bathed us in love. The Holy Spirit overpowered me, and I couldn’t deny his existence. Those moments aroused a love for God and music in me and I bellowed out the lyrics, along with my sisters. My heart mounted with joy as each word rang out.
One day, while outside playing and singing boisterously, laughter disrupted when a person I loved peered at me and said; “you can’t carry a tune in a bucket.” Over time, he repeated it. Each time he repeated the same comment, I recalled the message that I didn’t sing well.
Yet music brought me joy, so I joined the youth choir. Whenever the director called upon individuals to sing, I cringed inside and hung my head down to avoid her pointed finger and the words, “please sing the next stanza?” Sometimes she walked amongst us listening; my voice turned into a whisper when the director strode past me. I feared she might make an example of my voice, causing my friends to ridicule and reject me.
As a child, I related that mischievous statement to how my heavenly Father saw me. The teasing remarks towards me as a child stripped me of the freedom to burst into song and my capacity to praise God through music. Although I knew God loved me, I didn’t surrender myself unto him. My thoughts focused on the fact that I couldn’t serenade beautifully rather than on the goodness of God. I could not savor him to the fullest.
Later, I read the scripture in Isaiah, which spoke to me. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV) I realized I had to forget the past because God wants me to honor him through the words I write.
The Bible instructs us to be concerned about the details we retain and what we ignore. We learn through study that our trust is in God’s faithfulness, and we must overlook the former words and actions that hinder spiritual growth. When we recall the Good News and declare God’s faithfulness, then we affirm with boldness our confidence towards Jesus. Our heavenly Father calls for us to see the future with hope, realizing he guides and fulfills his promises. So trust and enter his presence with joy and excitement.
Psalm 100: 1-2 (KJV) describes worship as a joyful noise. Therefore, whenever I delight in the Lord, the sound is beautiful to him. It is glorious to praise him and speak of his love through my written words. So I share his faithfulness with verses, poems, and stories. Composing messages in a story is like lyrics that accompany the musical notes of a song. There’s joy in living life to the fullest.
Lord, thank you for the talents you placed deep within me. I ask you to bring them to maturity for your glory. Help me draw close to you and not allow people to destroy my peace. You alone know the reason for my life. What is my ordained purpose for this season? I am sorry for the times I failed; I want to glorify you in all that I do, so help me walk in obedience and love.
What voices from the past are you listening to?