As Charlene Darling Said, Songs Can Make Us Cry

English: it is picture of the sheet of the son...

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Many years ago, I attempted song writing. None was worthy of publishing and most have mercifully faded from memory. However, there are two I remember (at least the titles). One was a soulful ballad about commitment, titled: “If I Don’t Leave, Then I Guess I’ll Stay”. The other was a heart-tugging song about unrequited love: “I Did a Belly-Buster in the Swimming Pool of Love”. (Charlene Darling of the old “Andy Griffith Show” would have certainly lamented “Don’t play that one, Pa, it always makes me cry!”)

Several years after those, when our son, Daniel, was still a baby, I made this one up to sing as I tried to get him to sleep (sung to any baby melody you choose):

“All the little gophers in gopher town, they all get together when the sun goes down.

They build a little fire, and dance round and round, all the little gophers in!”

Still probably not worthy of publishing, but I was pleased with the imagery, and Daniel seemed to enjoy it.

It’s difficult to write a good song, especially considering you need to have lyrics and an appropriate melody to go with them. It seems impossible to write a great one. That is one of the reasons so many hymns, old and new, are amazing. The words touch our hearts with their praise for our great and gracious God, pictures of unshakeable faith, and prayers for God’s continuing help. Their accompanying music, whether soaring and broad or simple and quiet, fits perfectly to complement the message.

The background of some of these songs makes them even more amazing: From the well known story of H. G. Spafford writing “It Is Well” on an ocean liner after it passed the spot where his four daughters had recently drowned, to the lesser known circumstances behind Thomas A. Dorsey writing “Precious Lord” after hearing his wife had died in childbirth and the baby had not survived, or “Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus” being written by Louisa Stead after her husband drowned trying to save a young boy.

These stories reveal the unshakeable faith of the composers. However, above that, especially when considered with the lyrics of the songs themselves, they reveal the love, mercy, and grace of our God.

All the little gophers in gopher town don’t really get together and dance around the fire after sundown (at least I don’t think they do). But, the Lord’s love, mercy and grace is real. It’s shown clearly when we hear that whether we’re in peace like a river, or in sorrows like a stormy sea, God makes us able to say: “It is well with my soul”; or, we cry out to the Lord to take our hand because we’re tired, weary and worn; or we affirm that it truly is sweet to trust in Jesus and know He is with us to the end. And, when God takes the song and reinforces that reality in our heart at just the right moment and for just the right reason, it can make us cry.

Comfort Food & God’s Love – Hot Stuff in Bowls

It was near freezing outside and there was a drizzling rain that made the cold seep into your bones. It was a good day to eat hot stuff in bowls, which is just what I was blessed to do! Breakfast was old fashioned oatmeal (with brown sugar and cinnamon, and actually cooked, not flakes mixed with boiling water); homemade chicken ala king at lunch (not always served in a bowl, but this was, which made it even better); and oyster stew for supper (if that one’s not to your liking, substitute your favorite chili in your thoughts).

The list of “hot stuff in a bowl” goes beyond what I enjoyed that day. How about homemade vegetable soup made with ingredients fresh from the garden, or gumbo (seafood or chicken or whatever else you like in it), or beef stew? Just thinking about those can make your tummy warm up! No wonder they call it comfort food.

Comfort food tastes good but also brings a sense of well-being. Many thousands (millions?) of bowls of hot soup (chicken and otherwise) have been served by mothers and grandmothers when their children and grandchildren had a cold. The soup itself has no healing power (I realize there will be debate on that). The taste is pleasing and the heat can clear your head and warm you from the inside, so you do feel better – thus it is a comfort. But the real sense of well-being comes from the fact that the one giving you the soup loves you. They want to take care of you…to help you feel better…to comfort you.

The Apostle Paul wrote a wonderful blessing to encourage and comfort the Thessalonians:

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” 2nd Thessalonians 2:16-17 ESV

Our overriding comfort is an eternal one that has been given to us already – Jesus paid the price for that. Notice the focus Paul prays for in the present – he prays that God will comfort their hearts. The heart is where true comfort resides – from there our hearts can be established by God for good works and words.

Hot stuff in bowls is good on cold days. The taste and warmth make it comforting, but it only becomes true comfort food when our heart is affected by the love of others (like I was that day when my wife, Sharon, prepared it for me). However, our true comfort only comes when our heart is affected by the love of God.