THE ABIDING LIFE
Singing in the New Year
By Gwen Sellers
Have you ever taken a moment to contemplate singing, as in the actual act? It's kind of an odd thing. Don't get me wrong, I love singing. With no musical training and no genetic aptitude for it, I'm only comfortable sharing my voice in large crowds where I pretend no one can hear me, or alone in my car. But I certainly thoroughly enjoy doing it. It seems that singing is a very human thing to do. It's not just church people who gather weekly and sing together; pub songs have been a thing for ages, karaoke is a popular activity, we even make sing-along movies for kids. And who doesn't secretly (or not so secretly) enjoy all the bizarre versions of the happy birthday song? Be that as it may, in a world that is often quite prone to pragmatism, I find it strange that something that serves no tangible purpose remains so popular. I know I'm weird, but I've thought about this a few times and the other day it struck me that singing is a stunning picture of the beauty of God. Here is this thing that seems to be woven into the fabric of humanity that isn't about survival or production. Singing is about beauty, about emotional expression, about hearts connecting in community, and, at its best, about worship of a creative and loving God.
God has made us in such a way that life isn't all about what we can produce or how we can survive. Beauty is an integral part of the human condition. Truly we cannot fully live apart from it. Each morning on my drive to work I am graced with a view of the Rocky Mountains. Sometimes purple in the splendor of the sun, sometimes snow-capped, sometimes gently touched by a light stream I call a God-ray, other times covered in clouds. But unfailingly a thing of wonder. The mountains remind me that this world is bigger than me, that life is more than the tasks I am accomplishing or even the relationships I'm building. They show me a piece of God's heart and renew in my heart a desire to know Him and relate with Him.
Beauty does that. It's these little pauses — the wonder of creation, the imaginative appeal of an artist's painting, the sound of a bird chirping, the off-key notes of a silly song, the ordering of numerals, the fluid lines and vibrant colors of an outfit, the giggle of a child, the glint of light in a raindrop, the richness of a word, the feel of fabric, etc. — that take us out of our work-a-day world and into something more. In them we see that life is not just done "under the sun" (see Ecclesiastes). We see that there is much more, that each moment is precious. A God big enough to create our entire world and to sustain our existence chose to create it in such a way that we would take delight simply for the sake of it. He did give us jobs to do and there is value in productivity and efforts to survive. But He also gives us glimpses of more. He brings us back to what is in our hearts, to that thing that makes us human. Our spirits and souls connect with Him and long for Him there. Beauty in our world is a taste of the fullness of God. And beauty comes in many forms.
As I contemplate the reality of beauty, I start to think about the way God designed me and the way He sees me — the way He sees humanity really. We are a thing of beauty. Ephesians 2:10 says we are God's masterpiece. The original word there speaks of a poem. How often do we treat ourselves and others as things of beauty? Certainly the beauty has been marred by sin. We need a Savior. We need to be cleansed, made new, continually refined. But even so, there is much beauty in this life. Beauty that points us to God, to our need for Him, and to His wondrous grace. And yet I'm much more prone to evaluate and berate every flaw, to attempt to force myself and others into self-made notions of what is "acceptable," to value the task at the expense of the heart, to base worth on what society tells me is valuable. I want to place worth on what God says is valuable. I want to see beauty in every nook and cranny that He has placed it. Rather than live my days against the clock and a to-do list, I want to inhabit each moment and truly live. I think I'll experience much more of the life that God intended this way. I want to live with intention, with a keen eye toward beauty, and a heart connected with God. As I go into the New Year, I pray my focus will be on "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Philippians 4:8).
I pray you, too, will welcome the New Year with eyes that see what God has placed before you and a heart that finds its delight in Him (Psalm 37).
Image Credit: alexramos10; untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Celebrating-Holidays | Christian-Life | God-Father | Personal-Life
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