A Father’s Song

In our house, it’s all about the Sting Channel.

Robby and I started listening to music through Pandora awhile back. I love everything from contemporary Christian to Blues, so I must have dozens of music channels saved in our queue.

But for our everyday groove, we stick with the singer-songwriter Sting (formerly of the Police). Pandora plays his songs along with similar artists, such as Sade. We find their music soothing, without being boring.

If you think this is an odd choice for a young married couple, you’re right.

I blame my father.

 

Dad’s Music

When I was 16, my little brother was born, and I moved into the bonus room above the garage. At that time, my dad’s musical instruments were up there, including his bass guitar. He would practice every night to whatever music featured the instrument he was playing. Sting and Sade were frequent picks.

I often enjoyed listening to him play, appreciating his skill and the opportunity to chill with my dad.

But sometimes, I would get frustrated. Like any teenager, I wanted to talk on the phone, check my email, or watch TV. I wanted my privacy and to be left alone. It wasn’t like we were really visiting, anyway; he was practicing and I was just listening. At those times, Dad’s music didn’t sound so sweet. Instead, it was annoying.

Only in the last few months, as I’ve sung along to all those familiar tunes, have I begun to appreciate the impact of those years listening to Dad practice. It’s like his music seeped into my heart and laid buried there until I needed a good melody to fill my own house. And now that I’m older, I can appreciate that Dad wanted to hang out with me; we didn’t have to exchange words to have quality time together.

 

God’s Song

God works in our hearts in a similar way. Although we like the direct give-and-take of answered prayer, and we seek the powerful messages that come through dreams and visions, God often approaches us with a gentle sound, a small voice, a whisper (see 1 Kings 19:11-12). Like any good father, He wants to be near us, and for us to want to be near Him.

Sometimes, we like what He’s doing; it fits into our schedule and how we want to spend our day. We hear the song God is playing over our lives, and it sounds pleasant.

At other times, we feel that God is invading our personal space, and we get frustrated that we don’t have any privacy. We feel Him working in our hearts, exposing our personal thoughts and feelings, and we just want a break. We’d be happier if the music stopped for a little while.

 

Just Listen

We need to realize that God isn’t working in our lives for the sake of the moment; He’s preparing us for the future. He’s getting us used to the sound of His voice, to the melody of His Spirit. If we will listen and store that away in our hearts, we can carry it with us wherever we go (see Deuteronomy 30:14).

There will come a day when we need a little music, something to get us through a difficult situation or the doldrums of daily life. We’ll search for something meaningful, and His tune will come to mind. We’ll begin to hum the lyrics of His Word, and we will fill our lives with His Song.

If you’re feeling resistant to what God’s doing in your life, I totally understand. But I encourage you to stop turning a deaf ear to what your Heavenly Father is doing. He has some amazing lyrics to sing over you in a beautiful melody of grace and joy (see Zephaniah 3:17). All you need to do is listen.

“The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will extol Him” (Exodus 15:2 NAS).

Ashley Jones

Read more from Ashley @BigSisterKnows.com

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Give Yourself a Break!

stress

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” I sat on the couch with my head in my hands. My husband Robby was trying to comfort me but didn’t have the answers.

I had been “down” for over a week. I couldn’t muster the energy to cook, clean, or write. I put in my time at work, but that was about it. I knew I wasn’t depressed or sick, but I couldn’t get over this malaise.

The Revelation

Later that week, I opened my morning devotional. I hadn’t read it in a few days and had to check the calendar to see what day it was.

“Well, no wonder!”

Robby looked at me inquisitively over a forkful of scrambled eggs.

“Look what week it is.” I pointed to the beautiful portrait of my late grandmother on box 16 of the calendar on the fridge. Box 10 marked the anniversary of her passing. It was currently day 15—smack dab in the middle of the worst week of the year.

After 13 years of missing Grandma, you’d think it wouldn’t sneak up on me anymore. But it does. Every single year.

The Guilt

As a modern Christian woman, I know that God is good, and He’s in control.

But this time of year always leaves me feeling lost and confused. This year, I subconsciously avoided it by focusing on other issues and vegging on movie marathons.

That just added guilt to the emotional pile, though: Was it really OK to avoid the painful memories this year? Why hadn’t I dealt with it in prayer?

Thankfully, God showed me something that released me from the usual dose of self-condemnation.

The Lesson

We’re all aware the body is equipped to handle amazing amounts of stress. In the “fight-or-flight response,” we get a surge of hormones, including adrenaline, that give us the energy, focus, and strength we need to run away from something or stand our ground.

Once the emergency is over, though, it may take a while for our minds to come to grips with what happened. Trauma victims may even suffer amnesia or remember facts differently than they occurred. These mental blocks and tricks aren’t evil—they’re just pause buttons to give us the time we need to process the situation.

The Bible says we are fearfully and wonderfully made (see Psalm 139:14). God knew we would deal with stressful situations that could destroy us physically or mentally, and He gave us the tools we need to get through them.

 The Application

We would never tell a trauma victim to “just deal with it.” We wouldn’t dream of making them feel guilty for going through the necessary healing process. So, why do we allow ourselves to feel guilt and shame when we’re dealing with something difficult in our own lives?

I think the problem for Christians is that we confuse stress with doubt or worry. Doubt is a lack of belief, and worry is the result of doubting God. Stress, on the other hand, is a physiological response to a stimulus—whether negative (like a car accident) or positive (like planning a wedding)—that disturbs or interferes with our normal equilibrium (Dictionary.com).

When we’re stressed, it just means we’re going through something. It doesn’t mean we trust God any less, so there’s no reason to feel guilty about it.

The Break

We all know we can handle stress better by stepping away from the situation or focusing on something else for a while. Sometimes, though, we may feel buried under it, like I did earlier this month.

If you find yourself in this situation, I encourage you to do what I finally did: drop the guilt and give yourself a break! Even if you’re not exactly sure what’s stressing you, trust that God has it under control. If you think you need a little help, reach out to a loved one or your pastor.

And remember, joy comes in the morning (see Psalms 30:5).

Ashley L. Jones 

Read more from Ashley @BigSisterKnows.com

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