What is it that God appreciates about human beings in reference to music ability? He gives us gifts without repentance and they are perfectly designed to be used for the Glory of God. Whether we are blessed with actual music ability or other gifts, it all belongs to Him. I often wonder how the Lord feels when people acknowledge him with expressions of musical praise and other talents for his glory. In the book of Psalms there are many references to praising God through songs and instruments. One example is the scripture that states, “Shout for joy to the Lord all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn, shout for joy before the Lord, and King.” (Psalms 98:4-6, NIV) Though we may offer up praises to God in gifting, talents and musical ability, music in praise can be experienced in more than just melodious form only. There is another dimension to be explored.
Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary states that music is “the science or art of incorporating intelligible combinations of tones into a composition having structure and continuity; a euphony; an agreeable sound”. God is our creator and in a sense, our lives are just like the definition of music. Our very lives consist of God’s powerful existence that incorporates intelligible (God is all-knowing and exceptionally intelligent), combinations of tones (life’s events) into a composition (He foreknew how to arrange the challenges of life) having structure (He orders our steps) and continuity (requiring us to continually have faith in Him), which is an agreeable sound to Him (obedience and faith pleases Him). By accepting what God allows to happen in our lives and with a positive attitude of faith and trust, this submission and obedience is “music in praise” to the Almighty God.
First, all things do work together for the good of them that love the Lord. The intelligible tones of life are the things that God designs for us to experience in order to come into the knowledge of what our purpose is. Even before our birth He sets the tone for us right away so that we can begin our journey toward the purpose that he has ordained. As I was growing up, I wondered why my parents were so dedicated in ministry. My father was a Pastor and my mother was an Evangelist. They both were scholars of the word of God and possessed exceptional gifts in literary writing as well as songwriting and musical ability. I remember how my parents, brother, sister and I traveled through out the year. My parents conducted revivals with passion and perseverance. Many souls were saved and lives were transformed. It seemed that our parents sought out communities that were economically disadvantaged, desperate and in need of spiritual revival. My mother led the praise and worship while my brother and I provided music on the drums and piano respectively. My sister was a first soprano of our family chorale in songs and praises.
Ministry was difficult back in those days and the edifices had much to be desired. As a very young child, we had a few instances where we traveled miles to another city just to minister to a handful of people in old musty buildings out in the backwoods of “who-knows-where”. When I think back on that time in my life, I can almost smell the archaic dust from the corners of the wooden walls of peeling paint that stood the test of time in those very old structures. I could not see that even then, God was listening to my “life’s music” in this experience. What I mean by life’s music is the experience that I gained by “living out” the “intelligible tones of composition, structure and continuity” that he created for me in preparation for His purpose. This was my “music in praise” to God by way of submitting to the lifestyle of preparation.
Secondly, the Lord exhibited ways to use my parents’ lives to set the tone of my life in unique ways. For example, I watched as my mother would visit the hospital every Saturday afternoon. She enthusiastically strolled from room to room smiling and talking to the patients who were severely ill. In a calm and velvety voice she would say to each patient, “Good afternoon, precious heart. I am Mary Tankard I am here to see about you.” From that point on the patient’s face would immediately light up in a long awaited, appreciative smile. Then the patient would proceed to tell the story of what happened that led to the illness. My mother listened patiently. Soon after, she would pray and minister to the patient. I soon figured out that my mother did not even know these people. I learned that people need ministry whether you personally know them or not. To this very day, I take pleasure in visiting the hospital and nursing homes. I love spending time with people and ministering to them when they need help.
Just as inspirational, my father was also instrumental in forming structure and continuity in our lives as youngsters. He was about 4’10” in stature, but exceptionally tall in his way of living and thinking. Along with conducting revivals, delivering the word of God on two radio shows and managing a business at home, he still took time to teach us the ways of the Lord. Dad encouraged us to be true to God and our calling with an open mind and heart, while heeding to the Lord’s voice. Dad was consistent in helping us to stay focused and insisted that we function in the realm of accountability. Also, he would spend time with us and talk about things like politics, spiritual warfare, government policies and education. Dad would squeeze these subjects in while we were in the middle of fun family activities and on long road trips. From this I have learned to be disciplined, sincere, passionate and loyal to what I am called and ordained to do in life. However, all of this was enough to set the tone in my life in ways that made me realize that structure and consistency are important.
Lastly, as I give God praises through my musical talents of songwriting, playing instruments and singing, I realize that I am giving him another kind of praise through lifestyle and the submission of his choreographed steps that he designed to help me grow. My entire life from birth to death will be “music in praise” to God. Every trial, test, tragedy and victory will be lived out to the fullest with His purpose in mind. He has and still is orchestrating intelligible combinations of tones into a composition of my life that has structure and continuity. If I continue to obey and trust God, my life will continue to be a euphony; “an agreeable sound” in his presence.