In verses 18-21, we see this contrast very sharply: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads
to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Oh, to find escape! Escape doesn’t have to be drunkenness; it could be blowing all your money shopping, or destructive eating habits, or any other excessive behavior we indulge in hoping
to numb ourselves. I understand the temptation to run, to hide. To give in to life.
But we who know and love Christ don’t have to hide anymore. He has given us everything
we need through our relationship with him to overcome whatever life may throw at us.
We just need to be focused on him, not the problems. We do this by submitting to authority,
by being thankful to God, talking about spiritual things, and singing to the Lord. These are all things that are challenging to us because they go against our flesh and what feels good in the moment; rather, they require us to choose faith, choose delayed gratification, and deny our flesh. The result is wonderful; I can’t explain it to you, though. You’ll have to try it for yourself.
You can’t give in to doubt and fear when you’re praising God and being thankful. Music was
one of the most powerful tools in my life over this past year to help me to focus on God instead of my problems, on His power instead of my weakness.
The hurt and pain of the past year is still very real and present in my life. I don’t intend to go
in-depth with the trials of this year. However, I thought I’d share some of the pivotal moments
in my life over the past year and the songs that helped me to stay thankful, stay focused,
and stay the course.
2017 in song
When I was a teenager and struggling in my relationship with God to reach that point of full surrender, there was one major issue, one major fear that held me back: my parents. I was terrified of losing them. I was fearful that if I surrendered them to God, He would take them
from me. Never mind the fact that they were already in God’s care and I could do nothing to ensure their safety or their proximity me, I still was consumed with fear, anxiety, and worry.
My parents were becoming idols to me. Eventually, I recognized God’s love and goodness and chose to trust Him with my family, regardless of the outcome. It was a huge turning point in my relationship with God, but it was also a recurring struggle, and something I had to surrender continually.
In January of 2017 my worst fears were realized. My dad went in for routine surgery to replace a heart valve. The surgery went beautifully; however, due to other complications my dad never woke up. My mother and I spent an agonizing 6 days snowed in at the hospital while the doctors and surgeons did everything they could to save my father; but it was of no use.
His work on earth was finished; it was time for him to enter into his rest. Thus began the most challenging, painful, difficult, and yet breathtakingly beautiful year of my life.
Track 1: Oh Fear by Moriah Peters
You paralyze me, You shut my eyes when I’m trying to find some hope
You are a prison, You’re on a mission to keep me from where I should go
Oh, I’ve had enough of your scheming, I’ll be leaving
Oh, I hope you know your end is near // Oh fear, you’ll never keep me here
I hear freedom calling, I feel my chains falling, I see Jesus coming
You’ll never keep me here, I know my God is near, I know my God is near
This is a song from an album called “Brave” that I’d listened to quite a bit over the last few months of 2016. Having struggles with fear and courage, I found myself easily identifying with many of the songs. This one in particular is one that God brought to mind frequently over those first few days in the hospital. The bridge says, “These are the moments I feel courageous –
God is with me, I can face this.” It became my battle cry.
Track 2: Oceans by Hillsong
Your grace abounds in deepest waters, Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me,You’ve never failed and You won’t start now
So I will call upon Your name, keep my eyes above the waves, when oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace, for I am Yours and You are mine
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior
God almost immediately brought the lyrics to Oceans to mind that first night in the hospital.
I kept repeating the bridge over and over, reminding myself of God’s power, trying to maintain perspective. This song had been the theme of 2016 for me; now I had to choose to really live it.
Track 3: The Joy of the Lord by Rend Collective
Though tears may fall, my song will rise, my song will rise to You
Though my heart may fail, my song will rise, my song will rise to You
While there’s breath in my lungs, I will praise You, Lord
The joy of the Lord is my strength, the joy of the Lord is my strength
In the darkness I’ll dance, in the shadows I’ll sing
The joy of the Lord is my strength
This song got me through the first several weeks of learning to live without my dad. I listened
to it constantly. I listened to it when were living out of a hotel for a few weeks, still trying to move out of the house we had been renting and were supposed to be out of by the end of the month. I listened to it when I would drive past the church and the memories would overwhelm me. I listened to it while I worked from the thrift store because I couldn’t handle being in my office knowing Dad would never be in his right next to mine again. I sang it out as my anthem;
I was determined to praise the Lord, because He is good and everything He does is good.
Track 4: Take Another Step
In a word: passionate.