For anyone who is struggling with the frustrating sense of uselessness let me tell you about my good friend Ann. Ann* (not her real name) passed away just before Valentine’s day. For the last three years she came almost every week to our church service in the respiratory unit at the nursing home. Because of her trach it was hard to understand much of what Ann said. But Ann has changed the world. Her consistent faithful presence was noticed by her daughter who also began coming many Wednesday afternoons.
I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope Psalm 130:5 KJV
When we were young many of us used to song: “The B-I-B-L-E, Yes! that’s the book for me. I stand alone on the word of God, The B-I-B-L-E!” Today as we are older, whether we are looking out the window at a nursing home or looking out the window at work or school we all sometimes wonder how we will make it. Where will we get the strength just to keep putting one foot in front of the other?
It is easier facing outward conflicts because at least we can see the enemy we are fighting. But when things seem dark and confusing on the inside then there are moments when we feel as if things are hopeless. God’s word gives us this promise from King David who found that his greatest enemies were bigger than the giant Goliath whom he had faced on the battlefield. David’s battle with sin, failure, and shame left him wondering how he could face his family, his friends and his responsibility as a leader and example for others.
At his darkest moment David remembers that the same God who had given him hope when he fought the giant with a sling had also promised him forgiveness and restoration when he had sinned. God’s word isn’t weakened by our failures, doubts or needs. There is no limit to how much God can restore and His promises are not a limited time offer. You haven’t missed your chance to ask God for His help. Today is the perfect day in all eternity to put your hope in His word!
“Where there never is heard a discouraging word. And the skies are not cloudy all day.” was a line from a song written when in reality the settlers in the American West encountered blizzards, droughts, gunslingers and other assorted dangers. This kind of whistling in the dark is a pass time which most of us engage in when facing our worst moments in life. The eerily cheerful notes reflect a false bravado we use in place of faith in a loving God. Recently I have felt tired and worn out. Friends and family have either passed away or moved away and it has been easiest some days to just focus on sunny things while ignoring the fears that nip at my heels like a pack of jackals.
But the Apostle Paul reminds us that he found his comfort, not from his surroundings, friends or circumstances but from a God who gave Him comfort when he needed it most.
The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him. Exodus 15:2
Never underestimate the power of music. No matter how plain (or just plain off key!) there is a force that flows just below the surface of the notes. A melody is a lot like one of the stones in David’s sling in the Bible story. Goliath had a serious size advantage over the puny teen-aged David. In spite of Goliath’s awesome armor and weaponry, the power of one smooth stone guided by God’s hand was able to penetrate his defenses. Music can be an armament for good if we ask God to guide it to ears that long to hear from Him.
I discovered the simple power of music from two dear shut-in friends, William and his wife Joaquina. For about two years I visited them every Wednesday afternoon and came to affectionately call them “Mom and Dad”. William began to slowly lose the use of his arms, then his legs and he became confined to his bed and recliner. William loved to hear the hymns especially the lively ones. But William didn’t only listen to music. He found that he could still whistle a tune so one of his pass-times was to whistle to his parakeets whose cage sat in the corner of the living room. Whenever William whistled the parakeets chirped loudly. Near the end of William’s life his family filmed a brief video of his two parakeets hopping on his chest while William whistled a song. In the battle of his life William still used the smallest melody to fight.
For those, who like myself, have chosen to do nursing home ministry, I would encourage you to prioritize music. Music’s purpose is often unrecognized and its value underestimated but in its proper place it has the power to touch the hearts and minds of people as nothing else. Whether you are an accomplished musician or an amateur. Simply share the songs of the church and God’s message will take wings and fly!
Excerpt from Music Matters in Nursing Home Ministry: