A Reason to Sing
I saw The Sound of Music Friday night with two beautiful friends. They are the kind of friends that listen intently as you jabber on about everything you haven’t been able to say out loud in a week. They did just that. Oh, bless them!
It was dinner theater, something I absolutely love. Food and a musical?! It doesn’t get much better. So we chatted and ate. We listened and shared where we our hearts were. We talked about life, church, husbands and all the great things that God was doing. We also talked about the things we were working on, what we were afraid of and what we hoped for. I would rather talk about these things than anything else.
All of this before the show even started.
Then the lights were dimmed and the curtain was raised. In front of a back drop of the alps a beautiful young woman sang to us about the hills being alive with the sound of music. Arms stretched, she did the spin made famous by Dame Julie Andrews.
I did that spin once too.
Maria Von Trapp was my most favorite of the roles I was ever blessed to play. Every little girl who grows up loving The Sound of Music imagines herself spinning in green grass and singing loudly.
I wanted to be Maria at an early age. When I got my turn I was young, early 20’s. It was youth theater...but it didn’t matter...it was my turn to wear the postulant’s habit, carry the guitar, and sing Do Re Mi.
As I watched the story come to life on the stage for the first time since I was actually in the show, I was faced with a very hard decision.
Backward or forward.
I could have gone back. I could have felt sorry for myself. I could have speculated, wondered, and “what if-ed” myself to death. This is what happened most times I found myself in a theater since my own days on a stage.
Then I remembered the Requiem. I remembered that I gave myself space to grieve the loss of that dream. I had already made the choice the week before to turn to hope. I could have gone backward but instead I chose forward.
I quietly prayed myself through it. As the set appeared and the costumes and the familiarity of it all stared me in the face, I chose to be thankful. I chose a grateful heart over a bitter heart. And, let me tell you, it was a good choice.
I let go.
I found joy.
I sang along...quietly, of course, the role wasn’t mine anymore, but the words still resonated.
It was good and it was Good Friday.
That night, as I quietly slipped into bed, I remembered Friday. It was a day that reminded me of death. I thought about the death of my girlish dreams and then humbly remembered the death of a dream for so many who thought it would end in a different kind of victory. Death on a cross. Death of a life. Not just any life. The way, the truth and the life.
I thought about Mary, the mother of Jesus. How does a mama heart bear such atrocity?
I thought about the disciples, the followers, the believers... “this man was supposed to save us.” Terrified and disappointed. Empty and so afraid.
I thought about the Requiem again. The grieving. I fell asleep with mixed emotions. Unlike Mary and the followers of Jesus I knew what they didn’t. I knew what was going to happen. I already knew that the ultimate death was allowed for the most abundant of life.
I closed my eyes and remembered that His joy comes in the morning.
Saturday came quickly as it often does when I am up late. The Little Man is always awake before the sun is.
I went through the day preparing. Getting ready to feed people. Getting ready to go to church. Getting ready to encounter Jesus as we celebrated His resurrection. We invited friends and family to go to the Saturday night service and dinner afterward.
We sat down. I waited with great anticipation. God moves all the time but for days and weeks leading up to this weekend I had been praying with others that God would turn hearts toward His heart and people would experience His love in a new and fresh way.
I sang. I clapped. I raised hands and worshiped my risen Savior. I listened. I soaked in the words. I held on to these...as did many others:
"Jesus did not come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people alive."
As the time came to an end I felt myself start to worry. I quickly breathed a prayer, “Don’t let us leave the same way we came, Lord. Please, don’t let us leave the same way we came.”
We sang the truth out the doors...In Christ Alone.
But something was amiss in my spirit.
I had great expectations. I expected something mighty to happen but I didn’t see anything with my eyes. I could not tell if life giving words had fallen on hearts that were awakened or still sleeping. I wanted to know but knew I would have to wait and see.
The night went on. Lots of food and laughing, some screeches of excitement as the grandparents, aunts and uncles doted on the babies and catered to their every beck and call.
That night under the warm down comforter next to a sleeping Fly, (not an actual fly...Fly is my Guy!) I thought long and hard about what the day had held. I remembered Saturday.
A day of waiting. A day of silence. A day of wondering if the God of the Universe was doing anything...did He even care about the cries, the prayers, the supplications? And for some...was He even there? Or, was this all a dream turned nightmare?
I fell asleep remembering that I knew what Mary and those disciples didn’t. The third day comes. His joy comes in the morning.
Sunday came even more quickly. The Little Man beat the sun again, but I didn’t mind as much. There is something sacred about watching the sun rise on Easter Sunday. That’s when the tomb was found empty.
Remembering but still waiting we started the day. The kids followed the trail of eggs to their Easter baskets. My sister-in-law gave us “Resurrection Eggs” last year. We opened each one as we remembered what happened the last week of Jesus’ life. The kids raced to gather them and quickly opened them to see what was inside. Amidst the excitement the Fly and I did our best to set the record straight. Easter is about Jesus and the empty tomb. They found their baskets and the excitement peaked.
Two early, early mornings in a row caused the Little Man to need an early nap. The Bug and I headed back to church so I could help out in the preschool area. I dropped her off at her class and went to the story-telling room...the room where we tell them the Bible Story. I was all alone. Me and a box of doughnuts. I love doughnuts.
In the quiet with my doughnut I thought about the little ones that would soon be sitting on the floor. In that quiet moment, before the rush of tiny feet, I found myself kneeling down and begging God use me, the team that morning, to pour out His love and tell His story to the precious ones.
60 little people began to fill the small space. We weren’t expecting that many at the last service but the show must go on...so they all came in together. 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 5’s all in one room...wiggling, dancing, singing and listening to reason we celebrate Easter.
Together the team told the story. We sang songs about nothing ever separating us from the love of God. We sang a song about how there was a “shake and a rattle and the great big stone was rolled away!” The tomb was empty on that Resurrection Day.
They laughed. They wiggled. Some cried...as we worshiped God together and told them again what had happened.
We remembered Palm Sunday. They shouted “Hosanna!”
We remembered the cross and the crown of thorns.
We remembered the stone rolling away and the angel appearing.
Then we remembered that Jesus came back to life. His friends got to see him again. He told them he would have to leave but He was going to prepare a place for them. He told them He was going to send a helper, the Holy Spirit, and then He gave them a very important job to do.
We remembered that He told us to go and share His love with the whole world and tell the story of that love over and over again...until the whole world hears it.
The kids lined up with their classes and headed back to their classrooms for Ritz Crackers and pink lemonade. We put away the props and turned off the lights. I headed up to the sanctuary to see if I could sing along one more time before it was time for everyone to eat ham. Hoping to see, hear or feel...anything... looking for what I had been waiting for.
I made my way into the back of the room. Then I saw them. I walked in to hands in the air. People wanting to be made alive.
I felt like they were just for me. I know they weren't. But to me, it was a sign, a wonder, my very own Resurrection Day miracle.
With a heart full of hope and excitement I sang along wanting The Life, more and more abundant life...the only life worth living. Crying out with the rest of the broken, "Make the dead places in me alive!"
Every word was a prayer.
I sang it again. I sang it loudly. I didn’t care who heard me. No guilt in life, no fear in death This is the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry to final breath Jesus commands my destiny.
Jesus commands my destiny.
That evening I sat around the living room where I put on my first plays, performances, and dance recitals. I sat there with family and babies. The Fly played my grandfather’s guitar. My sister and I sang along. The kids danced and ran around from room to room. My mom even joined in on the last one.
We laughed and we just kept singing. It was in that very same room that my dreams were conjured up...my hopes of stardom born. In that very same room as I took pictures and sang the third above my sweet sister’s melodies I knew I was done grieving the loss of what I once hoped life would be. My heart was full. My hope was found. He was my light, my strength, my song. I was not afraid to sing. All I wanted to do was sing and didn't matter where I was or who was listening.
I had found a reason to sing. Sin's curse has lost its grip on me. For I am His and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ.
Oh, Friend! It's a new day. A new season. A new song has welled up within me and I can’t help but sing it now...to anyone who will listen. Whether it be wiggling preschoolers, the babies in the backseat or even, you, friend, I am going to sing.
I have a new dream.
I want to be a singer. I want to sing all the time. I want to sing my tears and my laughs. I want to sing along with creation as it is too hard to contain the joy that overflows inside of me.
I know Jesus because of His love for me.
I love Him because He first loved me.
I know freedom from deep hurt, addiction, despair, wretched sin because of His love for me.
I know why I wake up in the morning; it’s because of His love for me.
I want to spin in the grass with my arms open wide as the hills and mountains cry out. I am going to sing. And I will not stop until you hear me.
In three days time the ultimate death was overcome with ultimate life. Victory over the death. This Easter is one I will remember forever. Death does not have the final word. For me it was death to myself...my sin, my strongholds, my own way. It was death to the pursuit of my own glory so I could be Alive in the pursuit of bringing glory to Him with this Life.
Life is hard. Pain is real. People fail. Death of all kinds knocks at our doors. Songs are written and sung about these things everyday. But what if in those messy melodies we listen a little more closely. Heaven is singing along, my friend, angelic harmonies of redemption. It's the song of a life worth living.
Stop and listen.
Then, join me, as we sing along.