Last year about this time, Jennifer and I watched a movie called Risen about the aftermath of the Crucifixion. The film turned out to be ... Read More
He gets the words wrong, but his heart is in it as he sings. Andrew Peterson’s “The Queen of Iowa” somehow becomes “The King of Ireland” when sung by our two-year old son. Talk about progressive. His version goes beyond gender-neutrality into categorical inaccuracy and also breaks up those long-held biases about geographic specificity.
I thank God our cute little boy doesn’t yet fully understand all the words he tries to sing. For this is a song about suffering and death. And, of course, life and light. I hope, as he matures, he does get it.
I hope I do.
This seems like a good song (and story –please watch the video) for some context on what we see as struggles and suffering and how we see them. It’s perhaps good for our New Year hopes. Are we wishing for a pain-free, suffering-free New Year? I’ll admit that it’s a deep longing for me. Part of that desire I view as righteous, longing for the Kingdom to come all the way and the world to be made right again. The other part is selfish, wanting to be spared the troubles God intends to use as tools to work good in me. Pain is often an avenue to graceful maturity.
Two of the sweetest and most refreshing Christian friends I met this year had recently experienced the death of their only child. In the deep well of their suffering, they spoke of all the good God was doing in their lives. They did more than speak, though. They sang along to the God-tells-me-who-I-am songs of Jason Gray with passion. My friend wasn’t the greatest singer, he didn’t hit all the right notes, but it was among the most beautiful singing I’ve ever heard. Jason never had better accompaniment. I couldn’t sing along for the lump in my throat. This couple, so outfitted with reasons to surrender to bitterness and anger, radiated generosity and grace.
Do miracles still happen?
That is the mercy of God. That is maturity. God wants his children to have maturity–childlike faith and maturity.
We will not always get the words right and we will not always sing on-key, but let us keep singing.
So, Almighty God, do your work in us, frightened as we are. For we would be mature and childlike. We would be as you want us, for you are what we want and all our hearts need.
Andrew says meeting the Queen “. . . helped me to believe the words of my own songs.”
Maybe a good prayer for the New Year is that God would give us experiences, even painful ones if he must, that cause us to believe, and believe more deeply, all that we confess with our lips.
Because sometimes we get the words right, but our hearts wrong. The reverse is better, I guess. But best of all would be both.
May our hearts and tongues be in harmony this year and in the years to come. May they sing the same song, for the glory of God, Most High.
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
(Colossians 1:24-29 ESV)