- 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.
“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.
I like to think of those of us who have responsibilities for planning and leading worship as “worship architects.” I am called to equip present and future generations of worship architects. I do this through conference speaking, teaching in various academic settings, webinars, writing books, composing music, and producing a variety of worship resources of all types.