Heartstrings

I didn’t realize how much I liked violin music untild9fwnzushr0-adamara earlier this week. Literally…three days ago when the vibrant chords of Hallelujah awoke a quiet, slumbering place in my soul.

Fiddle…that’s what I had always called it; and my limited experience with the funny looking instrument had primarily consisted of the roar and excitement associated with group renditions of Rocky Top and the familiar southern twang of The Devil Went Down to Georgia. But I found the gentle, rhythmic chords stroked with precision by the gifted artist, the violinist, to be both inspirational and soothing.

1 Samuel records the story of how young David skillfully played the stringed instrument and describes the soothing effects the music had on King Saul’s troubled mind. Was it merely the skillful plucking and strumming of the strings or was it a deeper work, resonating from the heart of God to the fingers of David to the heart, soul, and ears of Saul?

And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.   1 Sam 16:23

img_2707Refreshed and well. That’s a good description of how I felt as I found more and more hymns played masterfully by various violinists. My son might even report that I danced around the kitchen. Just a little. The formerly deaf place inside hungered for the audible art that fed the precisely shaped hole that the music seemed to fill so completely. I was amazed at the number of hymns I found that were predominantly accompanied by the violin: Amazing Grace, Come Thou Fount, It Is Well With My Soul, Blessed Assurance… All my favorites! All were beautiful. All were soothing. The more I basked in the stringed harmony, the more I realized that the instrumental versions were like a timely gift of medicine for my soul. The violin played center stage and I simply let my spirit voice the words.

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.  Psalm 119:11

Okay, so hymns aren’t scripture, but as the words of the old hymns flowed so freely from my mind and heart, it reminded me of the importance of knowing: Knowing encouraging, soul-edifying words. Knowing the Word. Knowing the Truth. Knowing ways to nourish and uplift your spirit. Knowing how to soothe a troubled mind or weary heart.

God uses scripture, music, people, nature, circumstances, dreams, visions, and countless other ways to get our attention,to  speak to us, to encourage us, to transform us, to heal us, and to equip us. This week He used a violin.

I probably won’t be attending the symphony any time soon. My kitchen will be my dance floor, my phone speakers my instrument, my heart my voice. But Hallelujah is still playing in the background, I am a captive audience, and I will choose to hear each beautiful strum as preparation for a deeper work in the deepest places. And I will sing.

uqkyemaaaoq-baher-khairy

He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD Psalm 40:3 NLT


And This is Love…

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.

Charles M.Schulz

LOVE is such a peculiar word. I love my husband. I love my kids. I love my friends. I love my dog. I love coffee and ice cream and sunshine and Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings.

img_8609It’s Valentine’s Day…one simple twenty four hour period out of an 8760 hour year that has the potential to stir as many emotions as there are hearts to feel them. 24/8760. Simplified: 1/365 of a year that can cause feelings of  elation and assurance that you are completely loved and appreciated. Or not. It can also be a reminder of more dark and cloudy feelings like depression, deprivation, loneliness, or loss. I’ve been all over the Valentine map: dateless and lonely, single but content, secure in a longstanding relationship, settled. There was a time when a dozen roses or box of chocolate sought to define how much I was loved, thought of, and admired.

The world and all forms of social media claim to know love: real love, powerful love. Love that’s “forever and ever, amen.” Love that’s worth singing about, posting about, making movies about, or getting tattooed across your chest. So much hype, noise, attention and technicolor devoted to sparkly, feel-good love. But what is love?

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, img_8600but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.    

 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.     (1 Cor 13:1-3)

And who am I to judge? How do you define love when you’re 10? The coolest toy or gadget, a new puppy, fitting in?

When you’re 20? A fun circle of friends, a late night party, an attractive date?

30? A good job, a tiny house, the pitter patter of baby feet?

40? A good night’s sleep, healthy kids, a secure relationship, a solid group of friends?

50? A rewarding career, a little time off, deeper friendships, a little money in the bank?

60? Fewer pressing demands, emotional and relational stability, time to travel, a nest-egg tucked away?

LOVE: how does one word effectively describe affection, adoration, or commitment in so many areas? I don’t speak Greek. I don’t write or understand Greek, but the specificity of the language is interesting, appropriate, and inspiring. The Greek language expands the word LOVE into multiple specific, well-targeted words. I will only mention three.

Phileō: brotherly, companionable love:

This love speaks of affection, fondness, or liking…This love is called out of one’s heart by qualities in another.   (Mcleanbible.org)

img_8599I love that! 🙂 “This love is called out of one’s heart by qualities in another.”  So it’s really okay to love my husband, my friends, my kids, and my dog. Their presence, their personalities, and their smiles call out and awaken my heart. ❤

What about Eros love?

This love is erotic love. Eros is a love of passion, an overmastering passion that seizes and absorbs itself into the mind.   (Mcleanbible.org)

The world thinks it knows that one, but too often tarnishes and distorts it. How pure and how blessed when we can state:

When I found the one my heart loves…
I held him and would not let him go.  Song of Solomon 3:4

What about Agapē? There are bible studies, bookstores, small groups, and coffee houses that bear that name. What is it? How is it different from the others?

i. Agapē is called out of one’s heart by the preciousness of the object loved. It is a love of esteem, of evaluation. It has the idea of prizing. It is the noblest word for love in the Greek language.

ii. Agapē is not kindled by the merit or worth of it’s object, but it originates in it’s own God-given nature. God is love.

iii. It delights in giving.

iv. This love keeps on loving even when the loved one is unresponsive, unkind, unlovable, and unworthy. It is unconditional love.

v. Agapē desires only the good of the one loved. It is a consuming passion for the well-being of others.     (Mcleanbible.org)

  This is how we know what LOVE is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  1 John 3:16

So much more depth and insight than the simple four letter word LOVE.

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, img_8605it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  1 Cor 13:4-7

It’s a high and holy calling, to love…a privilege, a responsibility, a mandate. So love God, love your family, love your friends, love your pets, love yourself, love the least of these. You can even love chocolate.

That’s a whole lot of love. Happy Valentine’s Day!  ❤

“I found the one my heart loves.”    

**heart art credit: Mysti White Art  ( I love her! ❤ )