The phone rang and, to be honest, I hesitated to answer. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk to her. After all she was a friend. The problem was I knew she was discouraged and I didn’t know what else to tell her. Since that time, I’ve learned that I don’t always have to have the answers. Sometimes the most encouraging thing we can do is just listen. Yet, that day I knew she needed something to hold on to, something to keep her above water until the storm calmed down.
I took the call and happily answered as if I was surprised to hear her voice. To my chagrin she immediately called my bluff, and of course I denied hesitating to answer. I was right about one thing though, she was down again, and I didn’t know how to help her up. She raced from point to point, barely taking a breath in between. The skies over her life really were dark, and it seemed like the sun had gone on an extended vacation. I wanted to say something, but what was there to say that I hadn’t said already?
The usual Romans 8:28 hadn’t even slowed her venting down. She was like a steaming kettle whistling under the pressure, and I felt like the range top fan trying to sift through the smoke. I discovered that my deep barrel of wisdom was really no bigger than a red solo cup and I had already poured out the last drop. With a sigh I offered a silent prayer. Why I had not done that sooner I can’t explain. “Lord, she belongs to you. Will you please give me something to say that will help her?”
Suddenly one line from a little-known verse written by an obscure Hebrew prophet came to my mind. After pronouncing pending doom and certain judgment the prophet Zephaniah said, “The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
Then followed one of those moments that can be explained no other way than God did it. I am an analytical planner, nothing can be said without careful thought as to whether it is accurate, beautiful, and true. Yet, without even a second thought I blurted out, “Do you ever hear singing?” It was like someone pulled the emergency brake in her fast-moving anxiety express. For a moment she was silent. Finally, she said, “What in the world are you talking about?” Again, I repeated, “Do you ever hear singing, music that you don’t know where it’s coming from?” She was intrigued. I had her on the ropes.
It was like a teleprompter flashed on in my head. The Holy Spirit enabled me to quote a verse I had never memorized. The words came so naturally as if they were my own, but clearly they were too good to be mine. I remember saying, “When God sings, He sings about the things He loves, and that includes you.” It was so simple, so elementary, but it was what she needed to hear. We talked on for a few minutes more about God’s love for her. She was thrilled by the fact that God was singing a love song over her. I could hear the smile in her voice as she said thank you and hung up the phone. She thanked me, but I thanked Him; because, after all, He was the One who wrote the song.
There is nothing more stabilizing than love. To know you are loved is to know that you are not alone. To give love is to surrender the most sacrificial gift the heart can offer. To receive love is to receive the most honorable present the heart can cherish. The certain reality that we are loved with unconditional love that will never run out, thaw out, or fall out–by a God who will never walk out– provides our hearts a haven of rest.
It’s hard to imagine what an angelic choir sounds like; it’s even harder to grasp the magic that fills the air when God sings a solo. What is amazing to me is that when He opens His mouth He sings a song about sinners He has chosen to save. Of the 1,005 songs Solomon wrote, his best hit was a love song about his Shulamite bride. Our Shepherd King sings about His bride as well, and His lyrics make Solomon’s look like a kindergartener’s crayon-colored love note. If you belong to Him, He’s singing about you. When loneliness puts a chokehold on your joy, when anxiety stops up your wells of contentment, be still, and listen to our Savior’s soothing song. He sings about what He loves, and what He loves He takes care of.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)
-Pastor Ben Webb