Recently, while storm clouds hung low in Tuscaloosa, softball fans enjoyed a scene you don’t see very often. During the delay in action, two interstate rivals listening to the same music danced. They were no longer opponents, they were simply like-minded young women making the best of uncontrollable circumstances. They stayed in step with one another, moving in unison to the rhythm of the music. No one worried about batting percentages, the number of pitches pitched, or how many people were on base. Whether they wore orange and blue or red and white didn’t matter. All they cared about was getting through the storm by listening to the music and staying in step. It was the music that brought them together, but it was their unquenchable joy that delighted the onlookers.
Centuries ago, while storm clouds hung low over Jerusalem, the disciples put away their competitive spirits, shared a Passover meal, and sang a hymn with Jesus. Except for one, they had become like-minded guys who wanted to stay in step with their Teacher. However, their circumstances soon became seemingly uncontrollable.
After Jesus was crucified and buried, did they recall those words from the Hallel found in Psalms 113-118? “The snare of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. Then I called on the name of the Lord: ‘O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!’ The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.” (Psalm 116:3-6) Could they muster the faith to ever sing Psalm 117 ever again? “Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!“
We know how that story ended. Their faith revived, Jesus kept His word, and in a little while they saw Him again. It was the disciples’ unquenchable joy in uncontrollable circumstances that would amaze and delight onlookers for centuries to come.
Then, years later, singing prisoners won the heart of a jailer and his family. Paul and Silas had been beaten and arrested for the commotion their faith had caused. Their faith-filled songs broke their chains and unlocked the prison door so they could dance in freedom. No doubt they had memorized Psalm 22, the one about Jesus’ suffering, and they confidently believed God inhabits the praises of His people.
Several years ago, when my son was in high school, he was part of the school’s show choir. I was teaching at the same K-12 school, so on Valentines Day his group showed up unexpectedly in my classroom. My son handed me a rose and had me sit down at the front of the room while they sang the sweetest song. I had taught many of them as fifth graders, but my son being there made it even more special. There were tears of course, but profound joy. I imagine God must feel much the same way when we join His other kids in offering up our songs to Him. We are, after all, made in God’s image.
Perhaps today, onlookers still delight in believers who weather their storms by listening to God singing to their hearts. The prophet Zephaniah sure didn’t hesitate in letting all of Israel know, “the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17 NLT)I find great comfort in knowing God loves me enough to sing over me just as He did the Israelites. He also loves it when we sing praises to Him. The microphone and the speakers work both ways when it comes to communicating with God.
Maybe we’ve overlooked one of the simplest ways of feeling the comfort of God when the dark clouds threaten. Could we join hands with other believers, no matter the tribe they represent, and merely listen to the words Jesus still sings? Could we seek out those who have quieted their souls by not worrying about political parties, economic backgrounds, or the color of the other team? Today might be a good day to drown out the world’s woes by turning up the volume on Jesus. Who knows, our unquenchable joy just might inspire a crowd to dance to the rhythm of His beat.
“He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and they will trust in the Lord.”