“Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song. Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful.”
–Psalm 149-1 (NLT)
The other night, my wife and I went to a restaurant to hear some special music. The show contained an eclectic mixture of music from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
My music teacher, who has become a friend to us, invited us to the show. He is quite talented–he plays ten instruments, and based on what we heard that evening, he does a wonderful job on every one of them. Try to imagine the best saxophone player you’ve ever heard, and you haven’t come close to my teacher’s ability. He also showed us his talents on the flute and guitar.
But as sensational as his performance was that night, I have to say that the best part was when my wife was given a chance to play the band’s keyboard. This was quite a surprise, and it made the evening all the more enjoyable.
Stephanie played two of my favorite songs. The first one was Stevie Wonder’s “Sunshine of My Life”, which we affectionately call our song. “Annie’s Song” by John Denver was next, and it too was wonderful.
The ways in which God uses music in our lives are even more wonderful, so I would like to mention a few of the musical moments He has provided in my life, since they have truly been astounding. A few of Stephanie’s stories have been included as well.
Joy is the first thing that comes to my mind, as music has lifted my spirits many times. I just told you about a great time we had recently, but the joy of music goes even deeper than that. Stephanie and I have loved music ever since we were children, and I’m sure the same goes for you too.
The happiness music brings is great, but as a Christian, my deepest joy comes when I am reminded of God’s strength and peace in song. During tough times, music has been the anchor which keeps me from drifting.
Let me share an example with you, which I hope will shed some light on what I am saying. When my mom was dying in the hospital, my family took shifts at her bedside. She and I had always been close, but thanks to dementia, she was just a shell of the mother I once knew. I will never forget singing to her at her bedside, and the strength my song brought to everyone. While I had no doubts about where my mom was going, and I knew I would see her again one day, music gave me an indescribable sense of joy. Besides an ecstatic feeling, there was a definite sense of peace in that moment.
Stephanie and I experienced a similar event at Banner Baywood Hospital recently. On the day before Easter, we went to visit Vivian, the wife of a good friend of ours. She had been having extreme difficulty breathing, so she was hooked up to a ventilator and wearing a mask. She could barely talk, and we had trouble understanding her mumbled conversation over the noise of her breathing machine. When Vivian’s husband gave her a white board and a pen and asked her what she needed from us, she wrote the word, “sing”.
Vivian was a woman of great faith, and she loved the song “Amazing Grace”. So Vivian’s husband and granddaughter sant that beloved hymn at Vivian’s bedside, along with her husband and granddaughter. All of us were very concerned about Vivian’s well-being, but singing that song for her brought some peace into our hearts. Vivian also seemed to enjoy our music, and she said “thank you” when the song ended. Sadly, she passed away on Easter morning, but we’re glad we could be there to bless her final moments with God’s peace and the joy of His Word.
Music has also played a huge role in my life as far as encouragement is concerned. Can you remember a time in your life when hearing a happy song instantly lightened your mood? In our lives, God not only uses music to make our burdens lighter, but He also lets us know through song that He is helping us cary them.
Maybe you have gone to a church service, and you felt weighed down by problems. Tired and half-hearted, you had mixed emotions about being there until you really got into the music. More importantly, you were despondent until the music got into you. Afterwards you probably said something like, “I’m glad I came to church after all.”
Stephanie and I enjoy cheering up and encouraging nursing-home patients by providing musical entertainment. Stephanie plays the piano, and I sing and dance in my cowboy boots.
Many residents have told us how much our music has uplifted them. We have visited many Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Even though they don’t usually applaud or talk to us very much, we’ve been told by activities directors and caregivers that the smiles on their faces are genuine as they watch our musical shows. We’re very glad to use music as a great source of encouragement in the residents’ lives.
I have sometimes struggled with the memorization of scripture, but music has really helped me remember verses. During some hard, pre-marriage times in my life, I would listen to traditional and contemporary Christian music on the radio. Hearing God’s Word put to music really brightened up my difficult days, and it created an outlet that helped me place scriptures upon my heart.
“Why is this important?” you may ask. If we use music to memorize scripture, we can take God’s joy and encouragement with us as we travel through life. When our days seem darkest, we can always have the light of God’s presence with us. Things may still seem bleak, but to paraphrase the apostle Paul, though we may have all kinds of trouble, nothing can separate us from God’s love.
This week and throughout your life, Stephanie and I pray that you will use the music of God’s Word, His peace and His love to cultivate your own close relationship with Jesus Christ, and sing a new song to Him every day.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-432-6498. When prompted, press 1 for live chat rooms, and we’ll be waiting in room 31. You can press pound to bypass our friend Sharon’s intro message once you’ve entered room 31. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.