Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Lone Guitar

Photo by Jason Jenkins 2013

After I sang at an open mic downtown, we were returning home when on the spur of the moment we decided to stop at a café near us where we had heard they were also having an open mic night. As we approached the building, a woman seemed to read our minds and invited us to the courtyard where a very talented musician was singing.

Later that evening I had the opportunity to sing my Christian lyrics to secular songs and to sing patriotic songs appropriate for Independence Day. I was thrilled that many stood, hand over heart, for the Star-Spangled Banner, and were attentive to and appreciative of my songs with a Gospel message. Singing about God and country energized me, especially in the open air on a warm summer night, with majestic oak trees in the distance.

Before I sang, a young guitarist got up and almost apologetically explained that he was part of a duet and that the pianist hadn’t been able to join him. Despite the absence of a clear melody and harmonies, his playing was beautiful and soulful, touching chords within my own heart. I wondered what it would have sounded like had his partner been with him, and then I realized that God knew exactly how it sounded.

If we take the time and open our hearts to notice, so often there is something beautiful to appreciate that God has placed there just for us – a flower peeking through a crack in the pavement, a butterfly floating across our path, a fleeting cloud resembling Jesus Himself. And yet moments like these are happening simultaneously for born-again believers (John 3:3-8) across the globe, for those who have been saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6).

Each of us does not experience what the others do, yet God knows, sees and orchestrates it all. He knows not only what the absent piano sounds like with the lone guitar, but what all the hymns of praise (Psalm 28:7; 40:3) and instrumental music (Psalm 150) and bird songs and thundering waterfalls sound like around the world. Even the rocks cannot keep silent from praising Him! (Luke 19:37-40).

Just as He knows all things past, present and future, and can be everywhere (Psalm 139), He can hear and appreciate all these jubilant sounds at once. We hear just an isolated strain, but He hears the majestic harmonies of the whole symphony He has written.

I believe that we should in general be discerning when hearing reports of near-death experiences, as many of these do not align with Scripture or later are discovered to be a hoax. Yet there was one that I read a few years ago that resonated with me, experienced by a born-again evangelist during cardiac arrest from which he was resuscitated. He described approaching Heaven and being amazed by all the wonderful praise songs he heard, different melodies and rhythms each sung by a different voice or choir, in various keys and languages (Isaiah 42:10; Psalm 150:6; Revelation 21:24), yet miraculously blending together harmoniously in a magnificent orchestral arrangement.

After I sang, a guitar virtuoso played a classical arrangement of "Starry, Starry Night" on an electric guitar, which was an amazing blessing and inspired me to write Christian lyrics to this tune. Twilight set in, and the tables and umbrellas became illuminated in twinkling colored lights, adding to the ambience of the music and gentle summer breeze. It was a magical effect, yet it reminded me that above us, stars and moon were becoming visible to others, but hidden from our sight. And even that view would pale next to the spectacle enjoyed by God Himself, Who alone can perceive all the glory of the universe He has created (Psalm 19:1; Genesis 1:1-18).

As the “Prince of Preachers,” Charles Spurgeon, wrote:

“Look up at the stars, see how the Lord flung them about by handfuls, and remember that all the stars that are visible to you are only sweepings of stardust by the door of God’s great house. There are an infinite number of bright worlds which our telescopes have never seen. He Who made all these things is great in power; therefore ask something great of Him when you come before Him in prayer.”

Praise the Lord for the glimpses of His beauty, creativity and power He affords to us each day as a foreshadowing of the unimaginable delights (Isaiah 64:4; 1 Corinthians 2:9) that await us in His Heaven! May we always be attuned to these and thankful that He has opened our eyes and ears (Matthew 13:16) to His glory and to the truth of His Word (John 17:17). May each of us sing or play our part with passion, devotion and dedication, knowing that the Lord will transform our joyful noise (Psalm 95:2; 100:1) into the music of Heaven!

© 2018 Laurie Collett


Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
Your words, "Starry Starry Night" reminds me of a pop song sung by Don McLean, titled "Vincent" - in reference to the artist Vincent van Gogh, who suffered terrible things in life, including mental illness and eventually suicide.
Or could you be referring to another song altogether?
Unfortunately, singing is not my forte, but is is good that many Christians can sing well, and offer praise and thanksgiving to God combined with a tune or melody. As for beauty in nature, whether a coloured butterfly flapping its wings, a flower growing through a crack in the cement, a thundering waterfall, the power of the oceans, or the stars in the sky, these are only appreciated in their full realm by Christ-filled eyes.
An excellent post, God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Yes, "Vincent" is often referred to as "Starry, Starry Night" because of the song's first line, and of course its reference to Van Gogh's painting "Starry Night." My version to the same music is entitled "Gethsemane" and tells of Christ's ordeal in the garden and of His prayer for us the night before He was crucified.
Thank you as always for your encouragement and insightful comment. God bless you and Alex,

Donald Fishgrab said...

Sometimes the only way to understand the beauty of what God has created is by examining one small part and seeing it's beauty and complexity, just as you were inspired by hearing just the guitar's part of the music. If it had been blended with the other music who knows what you might have missed. I think how often we miss out on the beauty and blessings of life because we are caught up in the big picture and never see the details.

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Donald! It is God, not the devil, in the details, and these speak to His infinite creativity, wisdom and power. May we appreciate fully the delights of His many blessings! Thanks for your comment and God bless,

Susan said...

Oh how wonderful are all of the Lord's many blessings to us. We can take "the little things" for granted, but it is the little things that make all the difference. Our DNA is so tiny that we can hardly see it even with the help of the strongest microscope, yet if there is a tiny error in the strand it can cause terrible consequences. Our God is absolutely amazing, showing us that the tiniest things can and do have so much importance. Like Frank, I do not possess the gift of music, at least not in a way others can appreciate it, and yet the joyful noise I can make to God in thanksgiving He is gracious to receive with grace and gladness. I often wish I could sing beautifully, but the Lord has given other gifts to me, and tells me that His grace is sufficient and is all I really need. :)

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Susan! Praise the Lord for His many, daily blessings to cheer and uplift us. He is in all the intricate details of our life and of the universe, from microscopic structure to the vastness of the galaxies. Praise Him for His marvelous creation and for sustaining us through all trials! He has given all His creation the ability and desire to praise Him, as you do so beautifully in your writings.
Thank you for your lovely comment, and God bless,