Sunday, March 06, 2011

Singing in a Choir

I sang in a choir when I was in high school. We had a wonderful, though demanding conductor who stood for no nonsense – when she entered the room and took the podium, every eye was on her and her baton. If you joined her choir it meant a commitment to long hours of practise and a willingness to perform on demand.

There were times when we grumbled and rolled our eyes, times when we wanted to quit. But we loved her and we loved to sing for her, to make our notes as clear and precise as possible as we reached for that high point of excellence. We loved hearing, even feeling the other voices around us swelling and soaring, blending and harmonizing until we reached that moment when we knew what we had created was a true thing, a pure thing of beauty. That moment kept us coming back, made us want to sing all the more, to be part of that beautiful expression.

For a writer, reading good books and associating with their authors is like singing in a choir – when you are surrounded by wonderful voices yours comes forth stronger and more true. When I read good work, when I hear a writer read the powerful, stunning words he or she has written, it makes me want to write, not in imitation of that author, but in harmony with him or her. It makes me want my voice to sing like theirs does. It makes me want to be part of that kind of choir of words.

I’ve been reading the book of Job, for about the fifth or maybe sixth time. It became my favourite book in the Old Testament when I studied it at Bible College many years ago and was challenged to read the entire book in one sitting. That experience changed my understanding of who God is and who I am in relation to Him. It changed my life. Now I’m studying it with a group of college students – bright young people who have a thirst for God’s word, its beauty and its truth. They make me want to study more. They make me want to put my ear close to the very pages and hear God’s voice sing through the scriptures.

It seems this too, is a kind of choir. Iron sharpens iron. Intellect fires intellect, as sparks ignite dry grass into a raging conflagration of life-giving words. Life brings forth life. My mind swirls with inspiration.

It’s exciting and deeply humbling to realize that God has put me here, put us all here, in the company of one another - singers, writers, students, teachers and conductors - that His work may be accomplished and His glory revealed. He is the grand conductor of a magnificent choir and each one of us has a part in it. There may be times when we groan and roll our eyes. There will be times when we want to quit, but if we stay focused on the Conductor and on the baton of His Word, we will be stirred to carry on.

May our voices be strong and true. May our ears be tuned to His voice that we may sing in harmony with Him. For one day all the earth will hear as we join the angels and sing His praises.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:15-17).