Ever read something that drew back and slapped you?
Recently, I ran across three little words that slapped me, sent me sprawling and jumped up and down on top of me - in a helpful sort of way.
You may have guessed these words, since I divulged them in the title.
"I will sing."
That's it. "I will sing."
Seems like a pretty tame phrase to you? Well, notice that it doesn't say, "I feel like singing." This little phrase involves choice. In saying it, I announce that my will is going to overrule my emotions. Regardless how I feel, I will sing.
Notice, too that it doesn't say, "I may sing," or "I will consider singing," or even, "I will make melody in my heart." These three words involve action. To carry them out, I have to open mouth, exert breath and make sounds that at least somewhat resemble notes and melodies. Lyrics are helpful, too.
The day I read these words, I determined to adopt them - for the very reason that I didn't feel like singing. Driving home from an out-of-town appointment after dark, I started tentatively at first. Frankly, it took great effort both to sing and to listen to myself.
"In a cavern, in a canyon, excavating for a mine, dwelt a miner, forty-niner, and his daughter Clementine."
Proceeding through all the verses I could remember, I decided that "Clementine" is both silly and sad. "Drove she ducklings to the water every morning just at nine. Struck her foot upon a splinter, fell into the foaming brine."
And the real tear-jerker: "Ruby lips above the water" (in childhood, one of my sisters thought that was "groovy lips," which tells you the era in which we grew up) "blowing bubbles soft and fine. Alas for me I was no swimmer, so I lost my Clementine."
By the end of the song, I was - no, not sobbing - singing with gusto. Assorted other songs followed, many of them dredged up from childhood. Alongside ditties like, "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" (sung after 9:00 p.m.), I found myself belting out hymns and choruses.
"Jesus wants me for a sunbeam to shine for him each day." "Climb, climb up sunshine mountain, heavenly breezes blow." "I will sing of the goodness of the Lord forever; I will sing; I will sing."
Launching into that last chorus, I recalled the whole sentence that contains my adopted phrase. It's Psalm 101:1, and it says, "I will sing of your love and justice; to you, Lord, I will sing praise" (NIV).
That verse reminded me of one of the strangest battle strategies of all time. The good king in this battle was named Jehoshaphat. His country faced attack by three enemy nations whose combined forces far outnumbered Jehoshaphat's troops.
Jehoshaphat drew up his battle plans this way: He called a day of prayer in which he and the people cried out to God. After praying, Jehoshaphat took the counsel, not of a general, but of a prophet. Marshaling his troops, he instructed singers - yes, singers - to lead the charge.
While marching toward the enemy armed with nothing we would consider a weapon, the singers, of course, did not sing "Clementine." They sang praises to God. While they sang, the Lord ambushed the attacking armies so that they destroyed each other. The last army standing won - the army that decided, "We will sing."
Even silly songs can brighten my mood. And if my attitude toward God matches the humility, faith and obedience of King Jehoshaphat, songs that confess God's character and name will summon him into the battle in my behalf.
So, hey, I will sing - especially when I do not feel like it.
(c) 2001, 2005 by Deborah P. Brunt. All rights reserved. For more help to thrive in hard times, see her e-books, “The Esther Blessing” and “The Elijah Blessing.”