Monday, October 27, 2008

Sweet Sounds

The sound of the rushing creek lulled me to sleep at night and was the first sound I heard when I opened my eyes again. I needed to get up and start the coffee, but instead just laid there with my eyes closed listening to one of the most soothing sounds I’ve ever heard. How I wished I could take that creek back to Florida with me when our vacation in western North Carolina was over.

The babbling, trout-stocked creek was right outside the front door of the cabin that we rented for a week. I was infatuated with the beauty of the lush foliage, the pure mountain water running downstream, the relaxing sound of the water rushing over the rocks. I sat at the picnic table next to the creek for long periods of time with no other objective than to relax my body and mind. I would take a book or my laptop, but rarely opened either. The inspiration was just too beautiful to interrupt, so I just snapped pictures in my mind and filed them away for recall later.

I watched as the water dashed downstream from the mountain top, tumbling over the rocks and tree branches that hung low. The beautiful sound was the result of water rushing over those rocks and branches. But when I observed the water at the deepest points in the stream bed that were devoid of rocks, I realized how quiet, peaceful and smooth it appeared.

I thought about those obstacles – the rocks and branches - in the stream bed that created the beautiful sound. They stand in the way of the rushing water, but the water doesn’t stop. It may slow slightly, but it’s going to continue to move forward. As the water goes over or around the rocks, the sound of the rushing water increases dramatically. Confronted with obstacles, the water continues to move forward, yet creates a beautiful symphony as it cascades over the rocks.

I was humbled to compare my walk with Christ to that simple mountain stream. When things are going well, the water in my soul runs smooth and deep. But when obstacles appear on the horizon, I try to avoid or ignore them. Neither approach works very well because eventually I am going to come face to face with that difficult situation. I may not be able to change the situation, but I am capable of controlling my emotions and my tongue. What will my encounter with trial and testing sound like? Will it be a discordant cacophony or a beautiful melody? Will it be complaints … or praise?

If the Lord inhabits the praises of His people, that means He comes near to us when we praise Him. If I complain and whine about the difficulty, I am pushing Him away with my lack of faith and trust.

Once that thought worked its way through my heart, the choice in my response to difficulty become starkly clear.

May the sound that leaves my lips – in good times and in bad – be a loud, joyous praise that is a sweet sound in my Father’s ear.

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