Saturday, March 9, 2013

Day 17 {31 Days of Grace}: When a joyful noise is NO noise at all

{summer of 1997}

This summer is never going to end, I thought to myself.

My days start early...
Summer School at 8:00am; before that - shower, dress for work, and pack my lunch since there would be no time for that between school and the mall.
Work at one retail store in the afternoon and another in the evening; a few hours with friends before sleep and I start the cycle all over again tomorrow.

One day blurs into the next, but yet the time until he comes back to Raleigh drags unbelievably. 
Can a relationship be sustained with one or two phone calls a week and maybe a mailed card or note?
I have my doubts, but I'm hopeful.

Keeping myself busy seems to be the only way to keep going; if I stop moving, I start thinking.  I get lonely and lonely gets me into trouble, so I must keep busy and moving at all costs.

{the next week}

I am so glad to have a few days off work! My younger brother and some of his friends are here tonight to hang out for awhile before they go to a concert in town.

I ran an errand for them to the store and stocked up on anything I may need this weekend to eat or drink.  E is coming to spend the weekend too and I am incredibly excited! I just wish I knew when he'd be here...

I need to relax and hopefully this weekend gives me plenty of opportunities.

When I walk in from my errands, Denise quickly says, "Your boy's here; he's in your room."
I walked around the doorway and into my room and saw the most beautiful thing ever: my boyfriend, sunburned and covered in mud and concrete. He'd left the construction site in Charlotte and driven all the way to me without doing anything else first - even showering!

He looked so good sitting there like that - definitely a site for sore eyes!


I don't remember all the details of that weekend or how E and I spent every minute of it.  I do remember that it was the highlight of my summer.

We were past the point of wondering where our relationship stood; he'd told me he loved me and it felt great to know we were on the same page.

My biggest realization from looking back on that summer is underlined above: I knew NOT how to be still, quiet, "un-busy."

This weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to sing and worship with some special people.  
We spent a lot of time in God's word and did some very helpful and healing activities (which I will come back to in a later post, I promise).

One verse, or set of verses, in particular that we spent time on was Psalm 100:1-5...
1 Shout joyfully* to the Lord all the earth. 2 Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. 3 Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.  5 For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations. [NASB]
*many translations say, "make a joyful noise unto the Lord..."

It seems easy for me to make the connection between "making a joyful noise" and singing since that is a large part of how I worship.

But this weekend, we talked about when you don't FEEL like making a joyful noise unto the Lord.  When we don't understand or trust God in our circumstances...when we can't see past today, much less anticipate the blessings this trial might bring...when we question our faith or God.

We talked about what things get in the way of us receiving God's blessings? What things do we put above him or before him? Do we let emotions water-down His blessings? 
Because as verse 5 above states, "the Lord is GOOD..."
He can be nothing else and therefore everything He gives is also perfect even when we can't see or understand it.

As I ruminated over this passage, I saw this:

  • every one's "joyful noise" is different 
  • shouldn't my joyful noise be something that doesn't come easiest to me? something that requires sacrifice on my part?
  • if being still and quiet and "un-busy" is something I rarely do, shouldn't that be my "joyful noise?"
And before I could even finish the thought, I knew that was it.

I thought I had been trying for the past few months, maybe years, to really BE in the moments as they happened.  To slow, and feel, and appreciate and be grateful for all things and IN all things.

Yet, there in that retreat room, all by myself last night, I sat alone with God.  Bible on my lap, the hum of the heating unit audible, but no other sounds.  No ME jumping up to do the next thing; move to the next thing; keep moving so as not to get lonely or think too deeply.

In that room, I was still - quiet.  

And yet, I made my joyful noise to the Lord.

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