Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Deep Engraving

When our oldest grandchild was an infant, I found that the quickest way to put her down for a nap was to sing to her.  As I sang old hymns while walking or rocking her, I prayed the lyrics for her.  And it made me think that someday in the distant future, she would hear a tune or a few words and it would trigger a memory in her heart, "How do I know this song?"

I almost always started out with the beautiful hymn "Before the Throne of God on High."

One afternoon when she was not yet two, I began singing to her before a nap.  It had been a long time since I had seen her as our daughter's family had moved to a distant city.  I began singing, but one song after another, she squirmed and shook her head.  Finally, I asked her, "Baby, what song do you want me to sing?"

"Da Phone," she replied emphatically.  "Da PHONE!"

I was perplexed.  "What song is that, sweetie?"

"Da phone of God!"

I had no idea how that tune and words had engraved themselves so deeply in that little child.  She was not yet speaking in full sentences, but she already knew something deeply engraved on her heart.  It was not for "someday" but even now.

God uses the power of music to connect our hearts not just to words strung together but to an unfathomable anchoring of His truth and love.  Indeed, in the early church, through centuries upon centuries when illiteracy was rampant, stained glass windows taught the stories of the Bible, and God's Word was set to music.  The very basis of these songs was not to entertain, but to engrave Scripture over and over again, a profound infilling of God's truth, not just a strong remembering through one's senses but a reminder of His Presence in the every days of life. 

Even now as adults, those patterns of melody and words are still there, sometimes deep below conscious thought, but flowing through one's very being.  I often pray for those who are struggling in their faith, or have turned away, that God would bring to the surface of their minds and hearts every verse that they ever memorized, every chorus they ever sung, every testimony they ever heard, every moment when God touched their hearts.  May those layers of God's truth become a song stuck in their heads and hearts and bring them back to Him.

When in crisis or joy, when I am often speechless, God brings those melodies to comfort and strengthen out of the blue when I need His Word to express my heart. I have read countless stories of those suffering in solitary confinement that hymns, Scripture and even simple Bible songs from childhood created a scaffolding that kept them strong and sane in dire circumstances.

A friend once related to me that when he came to Christ as an adult, Bible verses that he had memorized decades before in a Sunday school class, kept coming to mind.  He had memorized the verses to "win a Bible."  God used His Word for something far deeper than that.

As I recently sat in the back of our daughter's minivan, behind a row of three carseats, I could hear the littlest one "singing" the Bible songs on the CD that was playing.  She knew the tune.  Her sounds had not yet been translated into English, but God's Word is being deeply engraved.  And what sounds like babbling to us is profound in God's ears.

O LORD, our Lord,
   how majestic is Your name
   in all the earth.
Thou whose glory above the heavens
 is chanted by the mouth of babes and infants.

                            Psalm 8. 1-2

What song are we singing?  Let His Word rise up within us.  May every prayer, every song of praise, every memorized verse of Scripture be engraved over and over into an unending chorus of God's glory.

The LORD is my strength
         and my song.

                     Exodus 15. 2

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