I almost always have a soundtrack playing in the background of my mind. It’s usually a song that’s stuck in my head, and over the years, as I’ve changed my music choices, I contentedly listen almost-constantly inside my brain to praise songs that I enjoy. Like most people, I like to sing along with the music, and I’ll sing in the shower and I’ll sing to my kids, but I don’t have a musical background. I have a talented family, with grandparents, mom, and aunts and uncles who were/are talented musicians, but it’s not something I ever learned. I’ve always been content to sing along with the radio, and to have a voice that’s just good enough for my family to enjoy 🙂
So imagine my surprise…
Since returning from Vancouver Island, I’ve continued to study and ponder and meditate on this Hope that the Lord was teaching me about. How do you practice it? How do you hold on to it in the face of any circumstance? I remembered Brother Lawrence who, if someone asked him about some great trouble in the world, said that he would just “lift up his heart to the Lord”, trusting that whatever might seem terrible to us was still in the ever-capable and infinitely merciful hands of our loving Father. So, I thought, I would practice Hope by continuing to say “I lift my heart up to You, Lord. I trust you because I know that Your plan is perfect. However this seems to me right now, I know that in the end, everything is and will be exactly as it should be.” So I began to practice. See, I get frustrated when I see people who don’t believe in the Lord, and don’t want to. And I get sad when I see people struggling with life, and I know the answer is Jesus, but they don’t want to hear about Him. But it’s not my place to be frustrated or sad – it’s my place to trust God that He has them accounted for in His perfect plan, every bit as much as He had me accounted for before I knew Him, before I was seeking Him, when I was one of the people who didn’t want to hear about Him 🙂
And one day, as I was practicing lifting up my heart to the Lord, right in the middle of my workday, suddenly there was a song in my head. It was a new song, not something I had heard on the radio…It was complete with a melody and words, instantly in my mind, which I quickly jotted down. I could sing it in my head right away, though I waited until I got home to sing it out loud:
I will lift up my heart to you Lord;
and I will lift up my voice to sing Your praise;
All my life is surrounded by Your grace;
and I will lift up my heart to You again!
It was short, but very sweet, and a round – I could sing it over and over with slight variations and never get tired of it 🙂 When I sang it to my kids, they liked it! They asked me where I had learned it, and I said God taught it to me, all at once…He had put a song in my heart…I remembered how Mary and Elizabeth sang songs that the Lord put in their hearts, too, and it occurred to me that these joyful songs were born out of the Hope that these women had, the Hope that was literally coming into the world at that time…
I remember, when I was a new believer, and struggling with depression and anxiety, that the Lord showed me a verse, Philippians 4:6-7, which I memorized and practiced and repeated in my head often until anxiety and depression were completely defeated and a distant memory. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, bring your requests to God; and the peace of the Lord, which passes all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. I’ve always remembered this as a training in Faith – learning, accepting, and stubbornly clinging to the truth of God’s Word until my life got in line with that truth.
And now, as I learned more about Hope, I found it indescribably beautiful that the Lord gave me a song – a song that He wrote in my heart, something that was personal, between Him and me, but still true like His Word. How fitting, how wonderful, how perfect that Faith was a verse from His Word and Hope was His song in my heart…