Wednesday, February 3, 2016


I admit that not always in my summit season or in any of the seasons of my life have I felt like singing. I've “hung my harp on a willow tree” and no song crossed my lips.

Like the captured people of God who were carried away to Babylon in ancient days, I have sometimes asked how God could expect me to sing when I'm going through an adversity. 

Sometimes I've been impatient, frustrated, and even a bit rebellious. Inside, where no one sees, I may have stamped my feet like a pouting child. I admit that I don't always sing a happy song while walking through some dark and fearsome valley or through a fiery trial or while nearly drowning in some circumstantial flood. 

Sometimes I've been confused when God is silent to my prayers and seems to overlook what I consider my urgent needs, when His hand doesn't seem to be moving on my behalf even when I've called out to Him in desperation. Or when I've been experiencing diminishing strength, been laid aside by illness, or have felt helpless and imprisoned by my circumstances. 

Nevertheless, through a lifetime of experience, I perceive that God doesn't blow trumpets to announce His plans in advance for the life agenda of His children. He promised once for all that His plans for me are good and not evil, to give me a future and a hope. Without fanfare His plans simply unfold like the petals of a beautiful flower, silently and fragrantly and according to His perfect timing. With the patience of His eternal Fatherhood, Abba God has put up with me throughout the long life He is generously granting me. He comforts and assures me with His eternal, unchanging, unconditional love when I misunderstand His guidance. 

Hindsight is always revealing. It is as if I had been blindfolded and yet walking on the Upward Way with my hand in God's hand, trusting Him to guide me over the rough places, to keep me from falling and getting bruised when I stumble. He has helped me to avoid the detours, and has drawn me on toward His predestined goal. This despite my reluctance in my later calendar years to keep walking uphill; it is too exhausting. I huff and I puff; my feet drag and my energy flags.

I've even suggested to the Lord that it might be time for me to stop on the side of life's road and let the faster traffic go by. Like retire from serving You, please, Lord? But His loving silence seems to remind me that "retire" is not on my life signpost. What He lovingly points to is rather a sign that says "reach higher!" He encourages me to press on with Him on the Upward Way, to desire more, to stretch my aging spirit, and seek to walk closer to Him.

Looking in life's rear view mirror now, I'm beginning to understand how all the experiences the Lord brought me through were meant to position me step by step into the very place and circumstances in which I find myself now in the summit season of my life. I would never have dreamed where God's guidance has taken me—but it has all been good! 

A hymn familiar to me from my youthful years by the famous songwriter of a past century, Fanny J. Crosby, expresses it well:

“All the way my Savior leads me; What have I to ask beside? Can I doubt His tender mercy, Who through life has been my Guide? Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, here by faith in Him to dwell! For I know whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well....This my song through endless ages: Jesus led me all the way!”

"...through endless ages...? That covers all the decades of my long life, whatever my age, all the way to my present age and beyond into Eternity!

When I first sang that song as a teenager, dreaming down the misty and idealistic corridors of time to seemingly endless years of unknown adventures, I could not have imagined what “all the way” and “whate’er befall me” would involve. With youthful trust I simply held on to the hand of Jesus letting Him “lead me all the way.” 

God has been faithful! He has never forsaken or failed me. Now at the summit of life with the hopefully more mature trust of years, I let Him hold my hand to “lead me the rest of the way.” 

And that is a good reason to "take my harp off the willow tree" and play a praise song and do a sing-a-long!

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