Choir or Chaos?

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Typically, I’m a sucker for birdsong. There’s nothing so soothing and beautiful as a walk in the woods or a time of relaxation in my backyard while the birds serenade me with their songs of joy and contentment. I love it! But one day this week, the song was not so sweet.

As I sat in my chair trying to have my quiet time with the Lord, I noticed an agitation in my spirit. At first, I couldn’t identify its source, but as I quieted my thoughts and became more present of my surroundings, I immediately tuned in to the birdsong. It was as if every bird in my yard (and there are a lot) was singing a different song with a different tempo. Instead of blending their voices in harmony, their varied and overlapping songs created chaos. And it was that “noise” that had caused my heart to race and my mood to shift. The discord of their conflicting melodies reached my inner spirit and brought about feelings of anxiety and stress. All of that from birdsong. Who knew?

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized how much those birds remind me of those of us who are believers in Christ. Sometimes, we get so caught up in doing our own thing, singing our own song, and being our own person that we forget how to unite with other believers. While the Bible calls us to be separate from the world, it does not advocate being separate from one another. But in this day and age, we’re so busy fighting over non-doctrinal issues like clothing, music styles, and whether the church carpet should be tan or blue, we’re causing discord within our ranks. Is it any wonder the world wants nothing to do with us?

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of seeing individual churches drawing away from one another. I’m sick of hearing one pastor belittle another. I’m weary of the robes of self-righteousness worn by those who claim to want to share the love of Christ. We’ve become so caught up in our standards and preferences we’re creating nothing more than a noise that is turning the lost away from the gospel. We’re so focused on being different from (aka, better than) one another that we’re becoming more like the world in that we’re filled with pride and causing strife and division. In our desire to be set apart from the world, we’re putting a bad taste in the mouth of the lost. When they look at the church and see only discord and strife, why would they want to be a part of that? I can’t say I blame them.

But what if, instead of each trying to outdo the other, we learned to get along and accept our differences? What if churches could meet together in harmony and make beautiful music that would entice the lost to come? What if we focused less on our preferences and more on the truth of God’s Word? I believe the noise would become a heavenly melody—one that would honor, glorify and please our heavenly Father.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we may not agree on everything, and that’s okay. As long as we believe the Bible and hold fast to what it says (not what we think it means), we have enough in common to get along. There’s no reason for there to be strife within God’s family. There’s no justification for division among the children of God. Let us put aside our differences and seek to love one another as God would have us do. And in doing so, we’ll make beautiful music the world cannot resist!

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
— Psalm 133:1
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
— Romans 12:10,18
Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
— Romans 14:19
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
— Ephesians 4:1-6

Time To Join the Choir

I've been downright cranky this week.  And if you ask me why, I could give you a whole list of reasons that looks something like this: (1) I'm cold, and I don't like to be cold. (2) Because it's cold, I feel confined to my living room which is the only warm room in the house, which means the rest of the house (and housework) is being ignored. (3) I've been trying to get over this nasty flu mess for nearly two weeks.  Just when I think I've about got it licked, it comes back with a vengeance. (4) Poor Jason caught my cold and has been miserable right along with me. (5) Jason has had very little work this week which only adds to the chaos in throwing off my regular daily routine. (6) I had hoped to feel better this week and get my newest book off to the publisher.  Instead, I haven't looked at the manuscript one time this week.  Not once!

Poor, pitiful me, right?  Do you feel sorry for me yet?  Well, please don't.  I don't need your pity and quite frankly, I don't need my own either.  That's probably one more thing that's adding to my crankiness--I'm cranky about being so cranky.  I don't want a few little bumps in the road to completely spoil the journey.  What's my problem?  There is no reason for me to be so out of sorts, and I was reminded of that in the quiet hours of the morning.

As I sat cuddled in my blanket in front of the wood stove this morning, I sipped on a delicious cup of hot tea while reading my daily devotions.  Suddenly, the peaceful quiet of the morning was shattered by bird song.  On such a cold, bitter morning, you would expect the song to be mournful or full of melancholy.  After all, that poor little bird had to be freezing and probably hungry.  This isn't exactly prime worm weather, you know.  Yet, despite these things, the cheerful little bird perched in the sunlight and sang the most beautiful of melodies.  It was sweet and uplifting.  The bird's strong, clear voice rang through my living room as if the bird had been perched on my mantle or coffee table.  The music was unmistakable, and God's lesson to me was clear.

The still, small voice wasn't as loud as the bird song.  In fact, it wasn't audible at all, but it hit my heart with incredible force.  "Well, look at that, Dana.  This poor little bird is out in the cold, tired and hungry, yet he can still find it within himself to sing a song of gladness.  The bird knows that I'll take care of him.  I always have, so he trusts in that.  And in that peace, he is able to greet the dawn with a melody of praise.  What about you, Dana?  Do you have any praise for Me today, or are you going to continue to sit there counting your grumbles and categorizing your fears?  I love you, child, and you know that, so please don't take this the wrong way, but I much prefer the bird's song of praise than the sound of your constant complaints.  How about let's work on that?"

Outdone by a bird!  Ouch, that hurts.  But doesn't God's Word say that if we don't praise Him, the rocks will?  Evidently, the birds are part of that choir too.  And you know what?  That's completely unacceptable to me.  I don't want to be outdone by a bird or a rock.  I have so much more to praise God for than either of these do.  So, why is it the bird can rise and say, "This is the day the Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it" and I can't?  Simple.  The bird chose to.  I didn't.  I chose to complain.  I chose to see problems instead of the Solution.  I chose to focus on my fears instead of my faith.  And I lost my song in the process.  No good!

As I began typing out this post, one thought kept running through my mind.  I have many reasons to be cranky, but that does not mean that I have the right to be cranky.  There is a difference.  Besides, what good does it do me to be cranky?  It only makes those around me cranky, and that makes me even more cranky.  You see?  It only leads to more problems.  Praise, on the other hand, leads to an entirely new attitude and outlook and can vanquish all fears and grumbles.  That definitely sounds like the better option, don't you think? 

So, what do you say?  Are you ready to join me for choir practice?

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? - Matthew 6:26

Name That Tune

Okay, I have a confession to make.  I haven't done my morning walks at all this winter.  I did well through the fall, but when the weather turned cold, I lost all desire to be outside.  We did a few hikes when time and weather permitted, but outside of that, my exercise routine has been pitiful.  Sure, I could have exercised indoors, and I did. . .some.  But there's nothing like a morning walk to get the blood pumping, the joints loosened and the mind calmed, and this morning, I was reminded of just how true that is.

With the sun shining and the mild temperatures, I put on my walking shoes and hit the pavement.  Instantly, I was overjoyed with the birdsong.  All around me a myriad of birds chirped their happy tunes.  Notice I didn't just say "tunes;" I said "happy tunes," for they were indeed cheerful.  The chirps and tweets filled the air with music and simultaneously filled my heart with joy.  Why?  Well, two reasons, actually.

First of all, the happy tune reminded me of God's faithfulness.  In Matthew 6, God reminds us that we needn't worry about anything because just as God cares for the birds, even more so will He care for us.  Matthew 10 tells us that not a single sparrow falls to the ground without the Father's knowledge.  The happy song of the birds this morning radiated a melody of creatures that were happy, provided for and not weighed down by the cares of this world.

Secondly, their soothing melody reminded me that I have a choice to make.  It's up to me to decide which song I'm going to sing today.  Will it be a cheerful tune that brings a smile to the face of others, or will it be a song of sorrow and defeat?  Will my song bring me down or lift me up?  Will it please the Father or anger Him?  You see, He has placed a song in my heart, and it's a good song, but He will not force me to sing it.  The tune I choose is completely up to me, and that's where things get tricky.

When things are going well, and the sun is shining bright, it's easy to sing, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" and "God's Been Good."  Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the times when the day is dark and the shadows are long.  During those times, my mind recalls the line from the song that was frequently sung on Hee Haw:  "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all."  The melody is somber and disheartening, which actually seems to fit the mood in the valley.  But is it the appropriate song?

Music has power.  It can lift you up or tear you down.  It can encourage or discourage.  It can soothe or aggravate.  It all depends on your choice of music.  So I ask you, what kind of song are you singing today?  Your decision can deeply impact your mood and attitude, so please, choose wisely.

O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. - Psalm 95:1-3