Music is a powerful vehicle with the capacity to transport us back to experiences spanning the entire emotional spectrum, both the happiest and saddest times of our lives. The soundtrack of my life has included all kinds of music…joyful, heartrending, playful, and contemplative. My mind recently traveled back in time as I sat on the garage floor looking through a box of albums collected by my parents over the years. I found within the well-worn album covers gospel music by the Bill Gaither Trio, Doug Oldham, and Sandi Patty that filled the air as we got dressed in our “Sunday best” for church. I rediscovered Christmas music by Ed Ames, Johnny Mathis, and Andy Williams that warmed our hearts while we decorated the tree, sipped hot cocoa, and drifted off to sleep during the holiday season. I came across popular music by Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Statler Brothers, and John Denver likely to trigger an all-out dance party in the living room when I was a child. Reflecting back on the most poignant occasions in my life, I find the chapters frequently punctuated by music.
I’m positive that a precious saint in the church nursery serenaded me with “Jesus Loves Me” within moments of my first visit. They no doubt knew the importance of instilling in me from even a very young age the truth of what the Bible says about me and my relationship with my Creator. I spent hours learning to play “Sweet Hour of Prayer” and “Count Your Blessings” on the piano under the watchful eye of my teacher, Mrs. Min Young Yang. As I pounded out the notes, stretching to reach each key and struggling to remember the accidentals, the words of the songs took root in my heart, reminding me of the awesome privilege of prayer and all the good things God had placed in my life. I still treasure the old hymns that instruct me in rich theological truths. The more of life I experience, the more the words mean to me. Songs like “Victory in Jesus” and “How Great Thou Art” take me back in time to the church of my childhood while simultaneously reminding me of how Jesus has won victories in my life and demonstrated His greatness to me.
As my husband and I started our own family, music wove itself into our shared memories. On our wedding day, he sang to me, promising to “Cherish the Treasure” of the gift God had given us in each other. Four years later, when we became parents, he made up songs for each of our boys based on their particular personality traits. One perpetually smiled, and the other loved to be held, and so we celebrated both of these attributes in song. As our boys grew up, the sounds of singing vegetables filled our home. Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber of VeggieTales fame serenaded us with tunes like “The Hairbrush Song,” “Love My Lips,” and “God is Bigger.” But they also taught our sons Biblical truth in the midst of all the silliness. We couldn’t take a road trip when they were young without listening to Elton John and hearing our sons belt out the chorus of “Crocodile Rock” from the backseat. If you’ve never had the privilege of traveling cross country with two little boys hyped up on sugar and caffeine singing “La lalalala la lalalala la lalalala la” at the top of their lungs, then you’ve missed out! I wouldn’t trade those demonstrations of pure joy for all the noise cancelling headphones on the planet.
Psalm 96:1 says, “Sing a new song to the LORD; let the whole earth sing to the LORD.“ We are commanded to lift up our voices to the Lord in song. In fact, the Bible is full of songs that mark occasions within the lives of God’s people. Songs of triumph and praise as well as repentance and mourning are recorded throughout its pages. As we look back at the song of Moses, we see him praising the One who was victorious over an oppressive ruler. David exalts God for His grace, forgiveness, and provision in his life. Mary the mother of Jesus sings a song of praise as she expresses awe that God would choose her to give birth to the Savior of the world.
I’ve always been drawn to acoustic music. Perhaps that’s because it so accurately mirrors the purity of the natural world. As I take time to close my eyes and shut out the chaos and clamor around me, God graciously infuses His own music into my life to remind me of His constant presence. The sound of birds chirping reminds me of His provision in caring for the smallest sparrow. The echoes of the waves crashing on the sandy shore remind me of His awesome power. The gentle whisper of the wind brings to mind his kindness in providing the breeze to cool me on a hot summer afternoon. The orchestra of bugs and frogs at night reminds me that God gave each of His creatures something unique to contribute to His concerto. Isaiah 55:12 says, “You will indeed go out with joy and be peacefully guided; the mountains and the hills will break into singing before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” As all of nature pauses to honor its Creator, we should join in the chorus. We may not all sing with the same tone, volume, or vocal quality, but the song just wouldn’t be the same without us.