Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Have you lost your song?

Chippie the parakeet never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched in his cage. The next he was sucked in, washed up, and blown over.

The problems began when Chippie's owner decided to clean Chippie's cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up. She'd barely said "hello" when "ssssopp!" Chippie got sucked in.

The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, and opened the bag. There was Chippie -- still alive, but stunned.

Since the bird was covered with dust and soot, she grabbed him and raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippie under the running water. Then, realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do . . . she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air.

Poor Chippie never knew what hit him.

A few days after the trauma, the reporter who'd initially written about the event contacted Chippie's owner to see how the bird was recovering. "Well," she replied, "Chippie doesn't sing much anymore -- he just sits and stares."

It's hard not to see why. Sucked in, washed up, and blown over . . . That's enough to steal the song from the stoutest heart.

Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm, Word Publishing, 1991, p. 11.

There are so many of God's people that can relate to Chippie the parakeet. Life has a way of stealing our song if we allow it to. Listen to what God's Word admonishes us to do: Ephesians 5:20

(AMP) At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.

(MSG) Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.

When we develop the habit of complaining instead of doing what God's Word tells us to do in Ephesians 5:20, we will lose our song. My challenge to all of us today is to develop the habit of praising God, IN SPITE OF the situation. He is deserving of our praise.

Louis Albert Banks tells of an elderly Christian man, a fine singer, who learned that he had cancer of the tongue and that surgery was required. In the hospital after everything was ready for the operation, the man said to the doctor, "Are you sure I will never sing again?" The surgeon found it difficult to answer his question. He simply shook his head no. The patient then asked if he could sit up for a moment. "I've had many good times singing the praises of God," he said. "And now you tell me I can never sing again. I have one song that will be my last. It will be of gratitude and praise to God." 

There in the doctor's presence the man sang softly the words of Isaac Watts' hymn, "I'll praise my Maker while I've breath,/ And when my voice is lost in death,/ Praise shall employ my nobler power;/ My days of praise shall ne'er be past,/ While life, and thought, and being last,/ Or immortality endures."  He refused to LOSE HIS SONG!

Wow! What an attitude of gratitude! That is the way that I want to be. It all comes down to a matter of faith. How much do I trust God? William Carey had much faith in God. Listen to a little bit of his story:

After William Carey was well established in his pioneer missionary work in India, his supporters in England sent a printer to assist him. Soon the two men were turning out portions of the Bible for distribution. Carey had spent many years learning the language so that he could produce the scriptures in the local dialect. He had also prepared dictionaries and grammars for the use of his successors. 

One day while Carey was away, a fire broke out and completely destroyed the building, the presses, many Bibles, and the precious manuscripts, dictionaries, and grammars. When he returned and was told of the tragic loss, he showed no sign of despair or impatience. Instead, he knelt and thanked God that he still had the strength to do the work over again. He started immediately, not wasting a moment in self-pity. Before his death, he had duplicated and even improved on his earlier achievements. He refused to LOSE HIS SONG!

Joe Scriven was a missionary from Ireland to Canada, working among the Iroquois Indians. He was joined by his fiancé who was also from Ireland. Just before the wedding, she was killed in an ice accident. Joe buried her with his own hands, and a broken heart. A year later, in a letter to his mother, he reflected,

"What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged. Take it to the Lord in prayer." Joe was on the road to triumph, even though there were times when the road was rough. He refused to LOSE HIS SONG!

Having lost in a fire virtually everything they owned, the Spafford family made new plans, including a move from Chicago to France. Horatio Spafford planned the trip for his wife and four daughters to be as trouble-free as possible. To transport them from America to France, he booked passage on a huge ship, and made sure they had Christians with whom to fellowship in route. He planned to join them a few weeks later. In spite of much careful preparation, Mr. Spafford's plans suddenly dissolved when the ship carrying his loved ones was rammed by another vessel and sank, carrying his four beloved daughters to the bottom. Anyone who has ever had their plans disrupted by the hand of God can understand Spafford's plight. The next time you are in church,turn to the words of the great hymn, "It Is Well With My Soul"--words he penned as his ship passed over the watery grave of his four daughters!  He refused to LOSE HIS SONG!

By the age of 5, Beethoven was playing the violin under the tutelage of his father--also an accomplished musician. By the time he was 13, Beethoven was a concert organist. In his 20s he was already studying under the very watchful eyes of Haydn and Mozart. In fact, Mozart spoke prophetic words when he declared that Beethoven would give the world something worth listening to by the time his life ended. As Beethoven began to develop his skills, he became a prolific composer. During his lifetime, he wrote nine majestic symphonies and five concertos for piano, not to mention numerous pieces of chamber music. Ludwig van Beethoven also wrote sonatas and pieces for violin and piano. He has thrilled us with the masterful works of unique harmony that broke with the traditions of his times. 

The man was a genius. Beethoven was not, however, a stranger to difficulties. During his twenties, he began to lose his hearing. His fingers "became thick," he said on one occasion. He couldn't feel the music as he once had. His hearing problem haunted him in the middle years of his life, but he kept it a well-guarded secret. When he reached his fifties, Beethoven was stone deaf. Three years later he made a tragic attempt to conduct an orchestra and failed miserably. Approximately five years later, he died during a fierce thunder storm. He was deaf, yet a magnificent musician.

On one occasion, Beethoven was overheard shouting at the top of his voice as he slammed both fists on the keyboard, "I will take life by the throat!"  He refused to LOSE HIS SONG!

Vance Havner told a story about an elderly lady who was greatly disturbed by her many troubles--both real and imaginary.  Finally, someone in her family tactfully told her, "Grandma, we've done all we can for you. You'll just have to trust God for the rest." A look of absolute despair spread over her face as she replied, "Oh dear, has it come to that?" Havner commented, "It always comes to that, so we might as well begin with that!"

My friends, why don't we start with that today? Turn your situation over to God and trust Him completely and totally! He will not let you down. Don't be like Chippee and lose your song…sing in the face of your trial and watch the victory come! I love you guys!

Pastor Rusty