Delight Yourself in the Lord

Delight yourself in the Lord. 

Last night in our church’s prayer meeting, this was the admonition of our pastor. 

I’ve been pondering on this since yesterday. How do I delight myself in the Lord?  How do I take pleasure in him? What does this look like in everyday living?

This past week I have been pretty numb. Trauma does that to me. I just kind of shut down for a while. My emotions get overloaded and they just turn off. For some reason, yesterday was my hardest day. I was fighting depression and hopelessness and it was a major feat to just put one foot in front of the other. Last night’s online prayer meeting was a breath of life that I needed. (By the way, this is just another example of why we need to be plugged into the body of Christ.)

This morning I woke up early. It is my husband’s birthday and I wanted to make him a special breakfast. I was up and so I was able to pause for a moment, look out the window, and see the beginning of a soft orange and purple sunrise. At the same time, I also noticed some of our bushes had flowered pink and white in our yard. Later on in the morning, I went outside on our deck and just sat in the sunshine. My little boys joined me and while I closed my eyes, soaking in the warmth, they chattered on about little boy things. Animals they could see in our yard. What if our cat was actually a WILD cat? What if our white cat was actually an ARCTIC FOX! I said uh huh, and yeah, in all the appropriate places, smiling at their antics, taking in the light. This evening we went for a walk after supper, and I noticed how the setting sunlight lingered on the green tree on the corner. The breeze rustled through the branches, the leaves shook and twisted, reflecting light as if they were glass pendants hanging from a chandelier. And through all of this there was a murmur in my head. Thank you Lord. This is beautiful. I love your creation. 

And I felt delight. 

Today was also a day for focusing on my children. Trying to give them some concentrated attention. We made trips to the library, read books out loud. Sat and cuddled on the couch. I made an effort to reach out whenever I could, tussle their hair, give a quick hug, listen with my eyes on their face. And through all of this there was a murmur in my head. Thank you Lord for these children. They are so beautiful. I am so blessed to be their mother. 

And I felt delight. 

Today I wrestled through some thoughts and ideas that have been wandering around my head. What is my response when my children’s schools go through such turmoil? And I felt peace. Maybe a change will be needed in the future, but for now, I feel that we proceed on the path that we are on. Walking in faith that all things work for good to them who love God. Trusting that if or when a change is needed in how we do school, God will make it clear. And there was a release of tension and a murmuring in my head. Thank you Lord. Thank you for your peace. 

And I felt delight. 

And you know, I almost missed it. Because all these moments were tangled up with messy life. Accidents, temper tantrums, impatience. Chores not done right. Kids fighting. It was not a day of meditation and calm. It was a normal day with kids and a large crazy house. But, tucked all throughout the day was beauty and thankfulness and peace. And I feel a murmur in my head saying Thank you Lord for this day. Thank you for your presence. Thank you for the meaning you infuse in my life. Lord you are Good. 

And I feel delight. 

Sunrises, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and My New Piano

Sunrises. I love sunrises. For many years I have been too tired to get up and enjoy them. Nowadays, though,  I am driving my kids to school early every morning and during the winter I have been enjoying a lot of sunrises. My kids’ school is only about two miles away. It takes us maybe five minutes to get there. Part of the drive to the school involves going up a big hill and then we crest at the top and suddenly we have a big view of mountains and mist and red orange light peeking through the clouds. It’s amazing. Every morning I can’t stop myself from exclaiming to the kids, “Everybody look at the sunrise! It’s amazing!” And the kids have learned to oooh and aaahh right along with me. Thanking God for the sunrise is part of our morning prayers. I have always imagined God standing at an easel, throwing paint on left and right, painting the sunrise every day. God the Creator. The Creative One.

The other day as I was driving along, enjoying the beautiful colors, I thought about how we are created in the image of God. I’ve always wondered about that, what it means exactly. I thought about God painting the sky every morning, making art and it occurred to me that when we create things, make our own art, we are, in a small sense, being like God. We were made to create because we were made in the Creator’s image.

I thought about music. I love music, but I have struggled with music over the years. As a teenager I used music as an emotional outlet. A way to vent, a way to express emotions, a safe place to feel emotions. As life got more and more complicated, harder, I found myself shying away from music. As I look back, I can see where I struggled to keep depression away, and one of my solutions to not dealing with depression or anger or a bunch of other unresolved feelings, was to shy away from feeling any emotion. Just stay neutral. Calm.

The only problem with this approach is that when you don’t allow yourself to feel bad emotions, the really good emotions go away as well. I don’t think you can fully live in joy if you don’t also allow yourself to mourn. You can’t have peace if you don’t go through the conflict first. You can’t have happiness if you don’t deal with the anger. I think that as I shut myself down emotionally, I also shut down music. I just couldn’t do it. Music was too closely tied to emotions. I could sometimes sit down and play through some Bach or Mozart in an attempt to make my brain feel orderly, but I wasn’t feeling it. And so I mostly avoided it.

Lately, I have been looking at getting back into music. My husband, excited that I was showing an interest again, went out and got me an old 1935 Wurlitzer Baby Grand, for a really good price off Craig’s List. I went with him and helped him move it. It’s a perfect fit for our house.  It’s got some history, apparently it’s original owner was a violinist with the Knoxville Symphony and she died after a long happy life at the age of 103. It’s also a bit dinged up and scratched here and there which means we won’t have to freak out if our kids add another scratch or ding. I rearranged our entire living room so that I now have a Music Room at one end. I have started practicing a bit every day. Scales, warmups, old songs I played in high school. Just easing myself back into it. I have really been enjoying myself, but I’ve wondered about the emotional side of it. Can I relax enough to let myself play with feeling? Can I let myself feel the sadness in the song? Can I let myself feel again? I’ve been a bit worried that maybe I can’t any more. Maybe that part of me is gone. 

Today I was working on getting my piano music moved to a different bookcase and I found a piece of music that I didn’t even know I owned, “Pie Jesu” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s REQUIEM. My copy was a vocal duet with piano accompaniment. It’s a beautiful, simple song written in latin. The English translation that is written on the music gives the words as this:

Merciful Jesus, who takest away the sins of the world, grant them rest.

Oh Lamb of God, who takest away the sin of the world, grant them eternal rest.

I sat down and started to sing it and play along. Alas. I am not a talented soprano and there was no way I could sing that high. My voice couldn’t bring justice to the beauty of the song. I stopped playing for a minute. And then I remembered my piano teacher, Ms. Wong, telling me to make the notes sing, make the melody sing. And I realized, I can’t sing the song, but I can make the piano sing it. And I did. And my fingers made the melody sing and it was beautiful. When I finally finished I sat there, feeling fidgety, like I needed to get up and do something. I stood up and went over the other side of my living room where I was still rearranging other books onto a shelf. (Moving my living room around created a couple projects I hadn’t been anticipating.) I was putting books back onto an empty shelf and I picked up my old Bible from years ago. I flipped it open and found myself in the book of Job, and I suddenly just wanted to read this chapter. Job 9. In this chapter Job talks about how powerful God is and how unworthy he, Job, is. In verse 33-35 he says,

“If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.”

I stopped reading and thought about how horrible that would be to have the full burden of your sins on your shoulders and no way to approach God because He is too Holy. And I suddenly realized that the song I had just played was an answer to Job’s predicament. Jesus takes away the sin of the world, and grants us rest. He removed God’s rod of punishment from us.

I went back to the piano, stared at the music again, and with fresh wonder, played the song again. And while I played, some tears fell, and I felt just a bit like my ice wall around my emotions started to crack a bit more. And I felt hopeful. Excited. I have missed music and I hadn’t even realized how much I missed it.

Here is a link to a recording of “Pie Jesu” if you’d like to hear it.

“Pie Jesu”