Music has always been an important way I connect with God. From my childhood, to my Bethel Choir days, to everyday worship and recorded music, truth and encouragement has washed over me and stuck in my brain creating endless earworms and continuous soundtracks for my life.
A little over a year ago, while attending the memorial service for our friend and brother, Doug Thompson, a recording was played. This wasn’t just any recording. It was Doug himself, in his beautiful baritone, singing a song that had been recorded in the 70’s when he was part of Sure Foundation. Sure Foundation was a youth choir in the age of youth choirs. An entire genre of Christian contemporary music was beginning to penetrate the fortress walls of evangelical churches. Drum sets were beginning to appear on church platforms, and guitars were plugged in to amplifiers, heaven forbid! Ralph Carmichael and Jimmy Owens became household words as their melodies and rhythms captured an entire generation for Jesus. In my Baptist church in Denver, we had our own version of Sure Foundation. We called ourselves New Outlook. When I was a teen, we had performed that same Carmichael song that Doug was now singing to the folks attending his funeral.
My heart raced and my mind searched back as the familiar melody began to fill my ears and soul. The words didn’t come back as quickly, but for days after, I recalled and reclaimed the message of this song – the power in the lyric and the inspiring commitment depicted in the swelling crescendo at the end. Let me share the text:
I start another day a playin’ out my role,
Just doing what I have to - don’t have much of a goal.
The road keeps getting steeper, still I’ve got to try.
I’m in a little deeper with every little lie – every lie.
It’s all so complicated and useless in a way,
And what else can I do now but start another day.
And while I’m just existing, hurting, and hating,
Little do I realize that He’s there waiting.
Holding sun and moon and stars up there in space,
Changing seasons at the proper time and place,
Watching patiently the circles that I run,
Waiting now to give new life through Christ His Son!
All at once I feel I’ve really got to see
If this love of Christ will really work for me.
So, I’m not waiting, my choice I’m stating
That from this day on I’ll make my way on
The high road of Christ where I am free!
(“He’s There Waiting” by Ralph Carmichael)
Is this not the story of all our lives? We struggle and we strive and think it is all up to us, but there he is, Jesus, the Christ, the one who was there when the earth was created and we were formed from dust -just waiting, watching, longing for us to get it.
This summer, I will be doing a four-part sermon series based on the Paul’s letter to the Colossians. I was inspired by Joel’s sermons on Philemon and the link between these two epistles – both letters having been carried by Epaphras to the Colossian church he had started after receiving the message of Christ from Paul.
The message of Colossians is simple and straight forward. Colossians 2:10 tells us: “So you also are complete through your union with Christ…” (NLT) A podcast I enjoy called “Things Above,” with James Brian Smith at Friends University, recently included an episode entitled, “Christ + Nothing = Everything.” This is a math equation and if you are like me, you’re already lost! But this one I think I understand: Jesus has done it all. No use striving and flailing around in our own strength, with our own puny resources. He is enough – Christ plus nothing equals everything! This is what Paul wants the young church at Colossae (and us) to understand. All knowledge and wisdom and understanding is now ours through the blood of Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Time to give the keys to God and just enjoy the ride – to quit running in circles, as the song stated. He is there waiting for us to just “let go and let God,” to coin a Christian cliché. That is the kind of faith relationship I long for!
I hope you will join me these next two Sundays, and the last two Sundays in August. Summer church attendance can be spotty at best, but in today’s world of smart phones and live streaming, you don’t have to miss a beat. Show up or tune in, play the recording as you lounge by the lake, sit on an airplane, make your way across country in car or on bike, and see where God wants to take you.
Some other ways you can engage and fill your soul this summer could include the following:
Read through Colossians in several versions – its only four chapters!
Pick up a book to read. I would highly recommend, The Universal Christ, by Richard Rohr or Hidden In Christ, by James Brian Smith.
Listen to some podcasts. My recommendations: “Things Above,” again with James Brian Smith, the Renovaré Podcast with Nathan Foster, or “Another Name for Everything,” with Richard Rohr.
Spiritual formation does not take any seasons off and can in fact be enhanced during seasons when we slow down and spend time in nature. So, no excuses😊 Also, remember that we now have a designated prayer room (Room 103, at the north end of our building) that can be accessed for your use almost any time. My office is just off this room and I am available to support you in your journey as well through prayer or spiritual direction. I would love to meet one on one to hear your story and encourage you on your way.
As we study and journey together, may God richly bless you with all knowledge and wisdom and understanding through his Holy Spirit!
Phone: 651-470-9697, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org