“Take a deep breath. Exhale.
Again: deep breath; exhale.”
My family doctor was listening to my lungs through a stethoscope as he checked off the items required for my routine physical. He was functioning according to the obvious: no oxygen can be exhaled without it first being inhaled. It is the rhythm of life.
There is a similar rhythm to our spiritual lives. Plenty of people have made the case for the connection between what we put into the development of our spiritual lives and our maturity level (or lack thereof) as a result. Junk in, junk out. Healthy in, healthy out. However, I would like to think of this dialectic in terms of “song in, song out.” Think metaphorically of living our lives as one big, unending song that we sing to the triune God, which also overflows to others. Song in, song out is a profound rhythm of the spiritual life.
It begins with “song in.” There is a text to your life’s song. You don’t have to find it or create it. Instead, it comes to us as a gift from Jesus who speaks truth into our lives, giving us the narrative wherein we find our identity as his disciples. It is none other than the living Word of God (Jesus) that gives us the very words that form the song for our lives. It is composed over time, in stanzas that are added throughout the years. Sometimes the melody has a lively dance-like character; other times the melody is conducive to lament. Either way, our whole life becomes a living, breathing psalm sung to the triune God. So go ahead and inhale!
But “song in” is not worth much without “song out.” Song in must overflow to bless God and others. As we reach out to the lost, the lonely, the enemy, whatever stanza we are on will be used of God to minister to others. This, in turn, becomes a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God. So go ahead and exhale; sing your life song as it comes to you and get ready to be surprised at how your song encourages others.
One day about twenty years ago, I was going through a very challenging time. I recall driving through my city and a tune was stuck in my head. At first, I did not even realize there was a tune going on. Then at one point I thought, “Hey, there’s a song in my heart. But I don’t know what it is!” So, I just listened to the melody for a while and let it take its course. Eventually, I identified it as a Sunday School song that I had sung as a child. Soon, ever word came rushing back to me even though I had not sung that song for thirty years. It was the very word I needed for the day! This little song was part of my life song. A tiny text was part of the grand narrative. It was a gift from Jesus that overflowed into consolation.
Inhale…exhale. Song in…song out. Embrace the life song God is writing for you. Then sing it back to God and to anyone who will listen. The Spirit will take it from there, sending you into the world not only to sing your song, but also to listen to the songs of others.
By Mike Colaw
The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of believers in Christ being God’s workmanship, His art, His poem, His song sent and shared with those we encounter in the world is the reality that the charitable love of Christ is the engine. That love is embodied in the Trinity: the Father is always pointing to the Son who is always pointing to the Father and the Spirit, each always pointing to the other, always lifting up the other, always aware of the needs of the other.
What Love Looks Like
The church ought to be a place where charity, as defined by God—that selfless agape love modeled by the Trinity—is practiced. When that is practiced, it becomes natural for us to see the needs of others and respond to them. I define love to my children as “that selfless charity and posture of your heart that does good to another independent of their ability to reciprocate.”
Christ At the Center
We sometimes have this post-modern competitive way of viewing the world and each other, but in the church, it’s way more familial. We are to do life together as a family and that’s how we grow in and practice charity. We as a church value social justice highly, but social justice is not our god—Christ is. Social justice and righteousness is the byproduct of Christocentric living. The song is Christ and we simply sing it. The best way to put this into practice is always turning our eyes and hearts to the true definition and source of love and letting that outpour to the people around us. it’s very important that our worship is Christocentric. I preach, but the reality is it’s probably the music that sits with my people more than the sermons do. Our worship preached and sung is always seeing and defining and expressing the love of God, not just His love for us, but His love at work through us. Then we are truly a song to the world.