I’ve come to realize something about myself: Certain voices in the church congregation actually help me to worship better.
Take the guy at the back who sings bass, for example. The deep resonance of his voice strikes a chord and the resulting reverberations enhance my appreciation for the hymn being sung.
Or the group of girls in the front right corner who beautifully bridge into higher harmonies. Glorious.
I find myself trying to block out the collective voice, just to zero in on a select few that give me goosebumps and make me praise God for the gift of music.
This can be a helpful practice for life in general.
Let’s face it: The voices of the world serenade us from every side. They are constantly in our faces, and may be the loudest and most obvious … but they’re not always the best.
Yet we often give in to their melody and let our lives sing their tune.
We sway to the world’s definition of beauty.
We tap our feet to its rhythm of success.
We hum along to its chorus of priorities, meaning and purpose.
God’s voice, on the other hand, is not always the loudest.
Consider the account in 1 Kings 19, when the Lord appeared to Elijah:
“The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.” (1 Kings 19:11-13)
Sometimes we expect to hear God in certain ways. At other times, we ignore godly advice and teaching just to please “what our itching ears want to hear” (1 Timothy 4:3).
In the book, You Can Change, Tim Chester writes:
In Greek mythology, the Sirens would sing enchanting songs, drawing sailors irresistibly towards the rocks and certain shipwreck. Odysseus filled his crew’s ears with wax and had them tie him to the mast. This is like the approach of legalism. We bind ourselves up with laws and disciplines in a vain attempt to resist temptation. Orpheus, on the other hand, played such beautiful music on his harp that his sailors ignored the seductions of the Siren song. This is the way of faith. The grace of the gospel sings a far more glorious song than the enticements of sin, if only we have the faith to hear its music.
To plug our ears to the voice of the world is insufficient. We must turn up the volume on God’s voice and the truths of His Word, and let them draw us to safety.
When we find ourselves surrounded by a choir of conflicting voices, we need to ask God to help us. He alone can train our ears to filter out the voices of the world, and tune our hearts to hear His truth above all else.
Now, as I stand in church and strain my ear to zero in on certain voices, I pray that the Lord would cause me to do the same in life — to sift through the competing demands, advice and temptations, and harmonize my actions with His chorus alone.