Dear Church Family,
I am no singer, so when the administration of the college I attended asked me to be part of a quartet and travel the country, holding services and recruiting students, I was flummoxed. It was a job I could hardly refuse because they were offering to pay my tuition if I agreed, and that meant I only had to raise my room and board through other work after the trip and through the school year.
I explained that I couldn’t sing, couldn’t read music and was petrified to get up in front of people. They replied, “We will teach you; you don’t need to read music and you will get used to being afraid (this last point is still in dispute).
There was one other small problem. I sang bass, when I did croak things out, and what the quartet needed was a first tenor (really, just a male alto). It all seemed far fetched to me, but they said, “Just try it. If you cannot do it, we’ll come up with someone else.”
The scheme the music teacher came up with took advantage of the fact that I was really good at mimicking voices and sounds. So, here is what she did. She sang my part into a tape recorder and I practiced mimicking her voice over and over and over. Then slowly, one song at a time, they had me practice them with the three other guys. It was hard at first – I naturally wanted to default to the bass part – but eventually my somewhat faulty ears began to hear the beauty of the harmony we were creating, and everything fell into place.
We traveled to churches all over the country and we even sang at a large rally in front of thousands of people. I have a picture of myself and Greg Arndt from that day, and every time I see it, it reminds me of how the Lord put a song on my lips and used it to keep me in college.
There is a great moment in the prophecy of Isaiah that describes the joy of the people of God when they are finally liberated. In that section of Isaiah, it says this…
Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’ “
Because God Himself is our salvation, we can trust and live without fear. He has provided and guaranteed it through the blood of His own Son. If we had to work out our own salvation, we would soon learn how utterly helpless we are, and therefore, how hopeless our case would be. But because God is our salvation, we can have absolute trust in what has been done, it will come to pass just as He has promised, and we can live without fear. We can live with boldness in the Lord.
If God be my salvation, if he undertakes my eternal salvation, I will trust in him to prepare me for it and preserve me to it. Matthew Henry
Because YAH, the Lord, is our strength and song we are secure and filled with joy in our hearts—a joy, that even if we are no singer, bursts out in song in the heart; and because the beauty of the song and its harmony among the saints cannot be denied to the believer’s ear, we find ourselves singing along, in the joy of the Lord.
We sometimes sing some of those songs from that summer, and when we do, in my mind I hear the first tenor harmony and it makes me smile and laugh inside. That is the way it is with music, it plays on the emotions, sometimes very deeply, and that is what is being said here, Because the LORD is our strength, He is like a song in our hearts—a song that fills us with comfort, warmth, excitement and joy. And why, because it is the glory of His divine nature that fills us with hope and joy. It is because he is just, holy, faithful, good, merciful and loving that we sing with joy, and though there are many, many voices in the choir of our God, they are all harmonized by His graced and love.
Exodus 15:2 The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt.