May 7, 2014

A God Who Sings (What You Need to Know for Today)

I grew up with an image of God in my mind in which He was passive, disengaged, muted, and put-out. No one told me these things about Him. I told these things to me, because they fit how I felt about myself--that I was unloveable and probably doing everything all wrong and I needed to prove myself to Him and to everyone else around me. Of course, I couldn't have put those thoughts to words, but I built my whole world upon them and framed my identity according to this foundation.
In high school and college, I did well for myself. I was a leader, I had good friends and a loving family, and I did the things a good Christian girl does. I was even on the cover of a magazine promoting True Love Waits. But on the inside, there was guilt, driven in by perfectionism. No one forced this upon me. I forced it upon me, and I felt estranged from God, isolated from most others, and depressed.

I went to see a counselor, and he told me that God loved me, and he gave me a million evidences why. I sat in silence, counting up all the reasons why this man was wrong. It made me angry when people spoke to me about God's love, both because I wanted proof and because I simply couldn't convince myself it was true.

No one spoke to me of grace. More importantly, no one questioned my understanding of God's character. They gave me bits and pieces about who I am in Christ, yes, but the very foundation on which I tried to build in these truths was cracked and broken, because my foundation was a hard, unloving God. I didn't know it yet, of course, so I put my head down and white-knuckled my way through.

Then I got married and the man that I married entered the ministry and the foundation started buckling under the pressures of perfection. That's when I started learning about grace. Learning about grace always traces back to the very character and heart of God and, for the first time, I considered that my idea of who He is and how He relates to me was skewed. Because if Christ died for me while I was far off and deep in the sin that made me His enemy, what does that say about Him being distant and angry? And what about Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, longing for their salvation? What about the persistence and patience with which God loved Israel? And, perhaps most telling of all regarding my broken foundation, what about Zephaniah 3:17 that says God is in the midst of His children, saving, rejoicing over us with gladness and singing, and quieting us with His love?

This was news to me. Our God is a singing God? Our God is a joyful God? Our God sits, like a mother sits with her child, quieting the hurts and anxieties with affection and care? There was an intimacy, an engagement, and a delight emanating from the pages of Scripture that I hadn't understood before. Slowly but surely, my foundation was relaid, full of truth.

I saw everything with fresh eyes: myself, others around me, Scripture, and my God. I realized that a correct understanding of who God is and what makes His heart beat fast is the only solid foundation, because we all filter everything through that understanding. If He is cold and lacking in grace, we struggle to see His goodness in difficult circumstances. And we really don't desire Him. If He is a singing God, however, we see His ways and His law as protection and love and the very best. No man's approval can match the approval we see in our singing God.

It's been quite a while now since God laid a new foundation under me, almost long enough to have forgotten the extent of the shame and guilt I lived with. But I've been thinking about it all lately because I've wobbled a bit under uncertainty and down-right confusing circumstances. To be honest, I've felt a bit disappointed with God, and I've wanted to question His goodness toward me. However, I've only had to look to the foundation that it's all built on to see: God is a singing God. He delights in me. He longs to quiet me with His love. He is for me.

This is what I need to know today and tomorrow and every day after. I don't need to know what's coming around the corner, as much as I desire to catch a glimpse. I don't need to know what it is that God wants me to do next, because He'll tell me when He wants to tell me. I don't even need really need to know the reasons He does what He does. Right now, I just need to know that my God is a singing God and that He loves me so. That loving, singing, delighting God is the solid rock foundation on which I stand.

How has God shown you that He is a singing God? And how does that affect your life today?