Did your parents pay you to engage in sports or practice your instrument? Or do your homework? Maybe that would have helped some of us work a little harder, eh?
My Uncle Paul & Aunt Ardeth Helbling’s grandchildren
My Aunt Ardeth passed away a week ago, and left behind a beautiful legacy of trusting God over a long lifetime. What is most apparent when you look at how she invested her life is the faithful support she gave her children and grandchildren (and greats) in the realm of music. And though, like all families, some haven’t pursued the same interests, they all benefit from the choices she made as a follower of Jesus.
At her memorial service one of my cousins quoted Aunt Ardeth as saying that music was an excellent way to keep children out of trouble. When hers were young, she paid them a nickel to sing or play their instruments for the church.*
I had to laugh, because I use songs all the time to steer me in the right path, especially when I first crawl out of bed (and sometimes before I lift my head off the pillow). It’s how I set my compass in the morning, turning my thoughts in a good direction. Music does help me stay out of trouble.
Worship songs are words that are repeated praise, usually written by someone else, that we make new and ours in the present. To those songs we add our thoughts, our interpretations, and our prayers. Sometimes we might change the words or add verses. Other times we may sit quietly and listen. I like to highlight a phrase and repeat it, letting it’s truth go deep.
When I make a song the prayer of my heart, especially when I add my own expressions, that’s praise. Reaching to him in this way helps me release my grip on useless things like worries and fear, and helps me see him more clearly. I’m convinced God doesn’t listen to recordings. He wants me, with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
“Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, [offering praise by] singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks to God the Father for all things, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; being subject to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5: 19-21 AMP).
Did you know that in scriptures we’re told at least 250 times to praise God? The message is clear.
“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” (Psalm 34:1-3 ESV).
Here’s a sample
Lord, I am honored that you place people in my life like Aunt Ardeth. Thank you for surrounding me with your people, precious reminders of your favor. I especially appreciate music, melodies and harmonies that draw us in so we’ll work together, making something beautiful for you. It’s amazing how you do that!
Your creation takes my breath away, not only the sounds that please my ears but the sunset colors I see and the texture of my dog’s furry head. I could go on and on . . . in fact, I’m sure I will. Your praise shall continually be in my mouth!
by Kathy Sheldon Davis
*Note: One of my cousins informed me she doesn’t remember being paid. I’d better check my sources more carefully next time, or pay them all the nickels they’re due.