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I Yield

So, if you know me, if you've spent any time at all with me or talking to me in the last three months or so, you know that I've been stressed. About a lot of things. My future, my purpose; I'm looking for a new job; my finances...all these things keep piling up in my head. All I've been able to see on the horizon is a giant question mark, and it's been driving me crazy.

So, I do what most people do. I make lists. I try to plan out a strategy. I ask people's advice. I do internet searches. I fill out applications; I try not to spend money on frivolous things. Oh, and I pray.

I've been keeping a journal since the beginning of the year (well, longer than that, but this one with renewed consistency). And so many entries revolve around the question of where my life is going. I keep crying out to God: Show me! Tell me! Speak to me! Reveal Your plan!

I don't have any answers. It's not that God has been silent. I've heard His voice on other, smaller matters. ie, Should I go to Branson? Yes.

And then, I've heard him speak to me in another way. Through the wisdom and insight of others. There's been a theme in my life lately. An idea, that God has been shaping. I talked in my last post about hearing God's song and being in tune with Him--but that presupposes that I AM listening.

Last weekend was Jubilee, a conference hosted by CCO, an organization my dad and friend Wendy work for. I went a few years back and blogged about it. This year I went again--but just to the (free) Sunday session. And perhaps because it was Sunday, the theme of the day seemed to be about Sabbath. Lauren Winner returned to Jubilee (the last time she spoke here was when I was there before and kind of made an idiot of myself to her!) and talked about the Jewish rhythms and purposes of keeping the Sabbath.

And it occurred to me that not only do I not keep a Sabbath day, the time I use to "relax" isn't really a kind of Sabbath rest, either. Because when I get home, I like to chill. You know? Grab some dinner, watch TV, mess around online. And I'm not saying all of those activities are always purposeless. But though I have spent days (even recent days, due to being sick) doing relatively little, I still don't know what it is like to take a Sabbath. To set aside a day in which I do not work, or create anything, and I do not fill the the silence.

Yesterday I was listening to a couple of Ransomed Heart podcasts, and John Eldredge was (appropriately!) talking about hearing God. And he stressed the idea that if you are caught up in the urgency of the moment, of needing an immediate answer from God, then you will most likely not be able to hear Him. I think you can see where I'm going with this. So Eldredge says the attitude needs to be one of openness, humility. Yielding.

Which is kind of the opposite of what I've been doing.

I mean, I try to have the posture of one who understands how dependent she is on God for all the good things in her life. But somehow, urgency begins to crowd all of that out. Daily--sometimes hourly--I have to readjust my attitude. Lately, I've found Jon Foreman's song "Your Love is Strong" to be helpful. Because panic sets in all too quickly, till all I can see and hear is chaos and confusion. And then JF sings,
"So why should I worry?
Why do I freak out?
God knows what I need,
You know what I need.
Your love is,
Your love is,
Your love is, Strong."

Actually, I've been listening to all four of Jon Foreman's Eps a lot lately, and found them to be very healing. If you don't know, he's the lead singer of Switchfoot (currently my favorite band) and he put out four short cds, one for each season: Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. (He also collaborated on a project called Fiction Family with Nickel Creek's Sean Watkins, and I've been digging that cd, too. Wendy & E & I saw them in concert at Grove City College a couple weeks back, but that's another story.) He's just incredibly honest and yet hopeful at the same time, and the songs have been speaking to me.

Well, God has. If I just take the time to listen. If I quiet my heart and the desperate questions clamoring to be answered.

If I yield.


Can You Hear It?

There's a movie that I absolutely love called August Rush. I've talked about it before.
It's about a boy who grows up in an orphanage, but wants to find his parents. He believes if he plays the music he can hear in his head, they will hear it too, and find him. While that overly simplified synopsis may sound cheesy, Freddie Highmore's portrayal of Evan (later stage-named August) was very convincing.
He says of music that it is "all around. All you have to do is listen."

I saw it last year, and I fell in love with the idea of "hearing the music," the symbolism of something deeper and truer than the noise around us, that connects people and draws them together, if only they can hear it.

This weekend, a newly begun Girl's Group met at my friends' house. We watched a Nooma video, one called Rhythm. Wendy blogged about this on her own blog, so technically, I'm kind of copying her. But anyway. In Rhythm, Rob Bell says that God is like a melody, one that's been going on for thousands of years, and that being in relationship with Him is more than knowing chord theory or having the skill to play perfectly. It's about joining Him in the song. The question, Bell said, isn't whether you are playing any music at all. It's, "are you in tune with God?"

Afterward, we talked about that concept, one you can probably guess I liked. And of course, it made me think of August Rush. One thing we talked about was how we often feel "out of tune" and don't always know how to get back. You could extend the analogy here and say that certain disciplines can help you get back in that rhythm, just like practicing and studying makes you a better musician. So, conceivably, things like prayer and reading the bible would also help one get back in tune with God.

But I, as usual, tend to see things just a little bit differently. I've noticed that sometimes retuning happens whether or not I'm trying for it. Sometimes God gets my attention in unusual ways. Like movies and TV shows and impromptu conversations. I like to think in those moments He's doing the tuning, not me.

I'm a guitar player. So I know that once in a while, I need to tune Holly. The B string in particular likes to go flat. But other times, I go weeks without tuning it. It sounds just fine, so why should I? But if I begin to play Holly alongside another instrument, and she's not in tune, look out! And then I pull out the tuner.

But being "tuned in" can have another connotation. The idea is that you actually listening for something. You're aware of it. In this sense, being tuned into God is almost like trying to find a good radio signal. You want just the right frequency. But how do you get that? With God? How do you get that tuned into Him? I think you have to start by listening. By believing that there IS a signal (or a melody), and that you're supposed to hear it. And that you might hear it anywhere, at any time. Not just Sunday mornings. Not just when you're being ultra-good.

I like the idea of God being like a song. It reminds me of the beginning of "The Silmarillion." And "The Magician's Nephew." Both J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis depicted creation scenes as songs. Which, I think is pretty brilliant. In both cases, they became these epic symphonies in which other voices participated.

I think of Life as a lot of things: a Journey, a Battle, a Love Story...I like the idea of it being a Song, too. A song that God is singing. Can You hear it? On a beautiful, nearly-spring day, can you hear it? When a stranger shows you a small kindness, can you hear it? In good conversations with good friends, can you hear it? "The music is all around you. All you have to do...is listen." And then, join in.