Something happened at the piano that day I will surely never forget.
Musical expression is something I cherish. It seems part of who I am not something I do. It helps process things in ways that are beyond words. Sometimes very deep things.
Ever since my growing-up-years, playing a song helps me think and reflect. Once the player knows the music well enough, there happens a delightful disentanglement from the score and the mechanics of playing. It becomes possible to experience the music as if you were simply someone in the room listening.
That day my heart was so weighed down I just couldn’t find words or focus. My wife Kathy, my first wife, was not well. We didn’t know what was wrong, but while swimming in Lake Sunapee she couldn’t catch her breath. Very fit and herself a former water safety instructor, it was quite unusual she would need my help to get to shore. Once on land she seemed OK, but a medical resident who checked her out at a doctor’s appointment discovered something troubling. Diagnostic tests underway, a terrible and mysterious confidence was developing deep inside me that this was indeed really big trouble.
Maybe it’s the confusion of details and emotions, but at times like this it can feel prayers only reach the ceiling. A strange sense of distance from everyone and everything clouds over. Even faith doesn’t feel familiar.
I found myself sitting at the piano to have devotional moments. The music would somehow break through the cloud cover a bit. And on that morning, I was playing and reading as my praying.
I happened upon Exodus 33 and the prayer of Moses (perhaps just like Ruth ‘happened upon’ the field of Boaz – lovely phrase in Ruth chapter two, verse three. The Hebrew alerts the reader to the fact that this was more an unknown appointment than a perceived accident.)
Encircled now by the context of my reading, the heavy concerns on the heart of Moses helped me express my own. Words too terrible to hear myself say first. I started to be able to feel the weight I knew was there, and to give it expression. Moses was crushed by the impossibility of the journey asked of him. It’s not simply that he didn’t want to go, rather that what the Lord was asking him to do was completely beyond his own abilities and resources.
And what is more, and heavier by far, Moses realized the Lord’s name was at stake in these details. It is as though he already regretted the disgrace he would bring upon the God whom he loved so dearly. There is no way he could do what was asked, and no way he could express the glory and greatness of God. And so his prayer …
“Please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” And he [the Lord] said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he [Moses] said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.”Exodus 33:13-15, ESV, my clarifications added in the [ ]
Maybe being a servant-leader in the Lord’s work explains why both weights hit me hard. And maybe that’s why the Lord’s answer hit me even harder – He will walk with me.
Two things – in the background I realized that now I’m really afraid. If the Lord is meeting with me like this it must be big trouble. Surely the Lord wouldn’t send this much grace to a false alarm, would He? But first, wow, the Lord is with me and hears me and will help me and won’t leave me ….. first I was encouraged.
And as I tried to process all of this at the piano I just sort of picked some simple melody in order to accompany what I was trying to say and process with the Lord. I wrote the song start to finish, music and all. Only minor refinements, a song in one day. It just came out. And I knew it went past the ceiling and through the cloud cover.
The following day we received the terrible news that the problem Kathy was having was actually an advanced cancer. The following day.
God was more than faithful and His abundant mercy was deeper even than our considerable misery along this journey. I’ll post about some of those details of His mercy and help. First I wanted to share the story of “Walk With Me”. Here is the song ….