Archive for June 2012
For 19 years life had revolved around my son, with me doing all of the usual things that moms do, but now my nest was empty. Kevin had taken flight and gone off to college, and suddenly life was very different—no more boys draped all over the sofas where they’d finally fallen asleep in the wee hours of the morning; no more shopping for enough food to feed an army; no more school activities to attend—it was suddenly very quiet, and my husband and I rattled around in our big, empty house. Ironically, just a year or so before, Kevin had commented, “Mom, you’d better get a life—I won’t be around forever.” And he was right, and here I was.
Then my husband saw an ad in a paper inviting women to come and participate in a Christmas music program with the Santa Monica Sweet Adelines. Knowing how much I enjoy singing he suggested that I go and check it out so I did, and immediately fell in love with the barbershop sound. Soon I joined the chorus and harmony began filling the empty spots in my schedule. I had always loved singing in church choirs, and the melodies of the old four-part gospel hymns never failed to bring a thrill deep within my heart that went far beyond words. Now, with the Sweet Adelines, I was learning vocal techniques that enhanced my voice as it blended with and complimented those around me, and my appreciation of perfect harmony jumped to a new level.
Sweet Adelines regularly compete amongst themselves in quartet and choir contests, always striving to get every aspect of a tune exactly right—word perfect, note perfect, timing perfect—so that the blend of voices singing four different notes comes together in such unity that the music literally sends shivers down your spine. Every once in a while we would hit that perfect chord and produce a unique sound called an overtone in which a fifth note, sometimes called a fifth voice, is clearly heard. When this occurred it would not be unusual for us to stand in silence when the song was finished, awestruck by the beauty of the harmony, with tears of emotion flooding our eyes.
One special evening my son was at home and the two of us went to a late night showing of The Lord of the Rings at an IMAX theater. On the way there I had been trying to explain to Kevin how thrilling the experience of perfect harmony is to me and had demonstrated with a cut from a song on a CD—one that I could play repeatedly and never tire of; but it just didn’t seem to mean much to him. Later, as we were exiting the theater, Kevin said to me, “Mom, you know how harmony affects you? Well, that’s the way I feel right now, but it’s the incredible cinematography that touches me that way.” (No surprise that he’s now a video editor!)
And so I realized that as every person is perfectly and uniquely created by God, so also is He able to speak to each one through different aspects of life; thrilling our souls with nothing less than personalized gifts from God. When such moments occur I know that my heart is really rejoicing because I have had a taste of His glory, and I recall the words of an old hymn, “All that thrills my soul is Jesus; He is more than life to me…”
All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (John 1:3)
Sheba joined our family when our son, Kevin, was thirteen. He contributed half of the money to buy her and, for him, it was a very high price—it was all he had. The deal was that Kevin would take care of Sheba but, as often seems to happen, he mostly just played with her and Mom (that would be me) did all the work. Then Kevin grew up—went off to college, graduated, moved into an apartment, got a job—and there was no room for Sheba, so she stayed at home. Oh, Kevin still loved her—called her his dog, played with her when he came home; but one day he told me that Sheba loved me more than she did him—yes, she was always glad to see him, but she followed me around constantly, seldom letting me out of her sight. Why is that? It’s because Sheba was now my dog—Kevin never paid the full price for her but I did. I met all of her needs—I fed her, bathed her, walked her, took her to the vet, scratched her favorite spots, played with her—I was always there for her—every day—and Kevin wasn’t.
To whom do I belong? To my husband? To my son? To my parents? To my extended family? To my friends? Each has paid a high price for me in terms of time, money, self-sacrifice, love; each has given all they know how to give—all they can afford. And each one shares a part of me, just as Kevin shared a part of Sheba. But I belong wholly to the only person who supplies all of my needs; the only one who loves me unconditionally, who never fails me; I belong to God. Heart and soul, mind and body, in work or play or worship, in joy or in pain—in total, I belong to God because he is the only one who has paid the full price of ownership—on the cross—and he can be counted on to be there every time I call on him. Now and forever; loving and accepting; always with me; always patient and kind when I stumble and fall and make mistakes.
Like Sheba constantly keeping me in her line of sight, I must always focus my vision on God. This doesn’t mean that I don’t love and appreciate all of the others in my life—my husband, son, grandson, parents, family, and friends—but none of them, alone or in unison, can do what God has done all by himself because;
…when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 10:12)
You are not your own; you were bought with a price. (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a)
A perfect morning—the coastal marine layer keeping the temperature in the comfortable mid-60s as much of the country swelters under intense heat; baby birds chirping in their nest; Jacaranda trees adorned in their glorious lavender headdresses, the scent of blooming jasmine wafting across my patio, and a hot cup of coffee.
As perfect as it seems for the moment though, all I have to do is pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV to be reminded of the chaotic world in which we live. Yet even in the midst of one global crisis after another we have hope, and faith still triumphs in the face of trouble.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)
I recall the words of an old hymn whose words proclaim the hope of what is promised to those who believe, and my heart sings, “What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see,
and I look upon His face, the One who saved me by His grace; when He takes me by the hand, and leads me through the Promised Land, what a day, glorious day that will be.”
How amazing—how beyond perfection—will be the day be when Jesus is revealed in all of His glory and claims His inheritance. The Day of the Lord will surely come, striking terror in the hearts of unbelievers—a day of destruction for those who refuse Him, but a day that ushers in the eternal reign of our King; a day for which I long.
Be silent in the presence of the Lord GOD; For the day of the LORD is at hand, For the LORD has prepared a sacrifice; He has invited His guests. (Zephaniah 1:7)
Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15)
All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You. For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations. all the prosperous of the earth shall eat and worship; all those who go down to the dust shall bow before Him, even he who cannot keep himself alive. A posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation, they will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has done this. (Psalm 22:27-31)
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)
After living in the California desert for over a year I longed for a glimpse of the ocean, and the day finally arrived when I got my first look at the mighty Pacific—Southern California style. I was surprised and disappointed beyond belief because homes, businesses and roads hugged the sand from Redondo Beach to Malibu; miles and miles of congestion with masses of people swarming the beaches. Where was the lush vegetation? Where were the majestic cliffs? I felt kind of like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she awoke and discovered she was certainly not in Kansas anymore.
In Northern California the coastline is magnificently green and rugged, with huge rocks around which wonderful tide pools form when the tide is out. Long stretches of beach are almost uninhabited by people, and boats often bob around on their anchors in natural harbors instead of being confined to massive marinas such as in Newport Beach or Marina Del Rey.
The Pacific of the North Coast can be dangerous though, with violent storms and treacherous currents being the cause of many shipwrecks. At the entrance of Humboldt Bay alone, just about every kind of vessel imaginable has gone down—from 1800’s sailing ships to fishing boats to passenger ships to Navy destroyers and submarines. Nine historic lighthouses dot the coast from Point Reyes on the south to Crescent City on the north, all of which were built in an effort to safeguard these ocean-going vessels, warning them to navigate around hazardous spots and providing lights in the darkness. Foghorns also abound, giving audible alerts of dangerous rocks or shoals.
Just like the Northern California coast, life itself can be a dangerous place. We are surrounded by evil, with one stormy trial after another occurring throughout our time on earth. Fortunately, as the lighthouses and foghorns direct ships away from harm, so do Jesus as our Light and the Holy Spirit as our teacher guide us through life; providing for our every need and warning us of the pitfalls ahead.
The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned. (Matthew 4:16)
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John14:26)