Are you the type of person that frequently has songs pop into your head while you go through everyday routines and interactions? Maybe you've heard a word or phrase spoken in conversation and your mind triggers a memory of a song along the same lines. Maybe you've had days when your life seems like a walking musical. Ok, maybe not that extreme, but you get the idea. I go through days like this when my mind thinks in terms of music...even jokingly conversing with or instructing my kids through song. Most times it's just funny. Sometimes it's distracting, but two weekends ago it was my deliverance.
It was supposed to be a happy Sunday afternoon at a state beach in California. It was supposed to be a day cap off a memorable family reunion. But when our 2-year-old attempted to walk the rim of a non-active fire pit and fell in, the 2nd & 3rd degree burns he instantly suffered threw our life into a whirlwind of pain, fear, and heartache. I don't want to recount every detail of what happened to Jacob and how God has worked miraculously to the point that 11 days after the incident Jacob's surgeon concluded there was no need for skin grafting and that "everything is pretty much healed." That would be too much for one post! But what I do want to share here is a brief chronicling of the songs God used at key times to keep my heart close to His.
You are my hiding place;
You shall preserve me from trouble;
You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7, NKJV
BY HIS WOUNDS
It was just 3 hours after the ambulance whisked my wife and Jacob away to the nearest burn center. Since my two older kids weren't allowed in the burn ICU, I was working on handing them off to the care of my sister-in-law so I could be present with our little guy. I walked back alone to my car with emotions running high -- panicked about Jacob's well-being, angry at myself for letting Jacob out of my sight for those few fateful seconds, and heartbroken over the visual and auditory replay of Jacob's pain in my mind.
Wiping tears from my eyes, I started the car and my phone alarm went off as it does everyday at 3:05pm -- "Take time to praise." How can I? I asked out loud. I tried to verbalize acknowledgements of God's power and goodness, but unconvincingly. And then it came on. Pulling from the playlist on my phone, the car stereo played the song based on Isaiah 53 "By His Wounds":
He was pierced for our transgressions
He was crushed for our sins
The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him
And by His wounds, by His wounds
We are healed
I bowed my head in the hospital parking lot til the song finished. And walked to my son's room with some assurance that God not only knows the pain of our wounds but has the power to heal them too.
A little more than two weeks before Jacob's accident, we were privileged to attend Family Camp at Glacier View Ranch. It was an amazing week filled with tons of outdoor activity, time with friends, and deeply spiritual programming. The theme song threaded throughout the week was "I Am," the chorus of which all our kids (and especially Jacob) sing with great gusto anytime they hear it now:
I am holding onto You
I am holding onto You
In the middle of the storm
I am holding on, I am
We sang this at the top of our lungs (along with a few other songs) many times on our road trip out to California. I downloaded a few of the kids' summer favorites, including "I Am" before we hit the road. Little did we know how much those words would mean to us just days later. When we drove away from the hospital with our freshly discharged burn victim two days after his fall, Jacob requested we play this song. A wave of emotion swept over me as I heard him singing it just as loudly with all his bandages as he had when he had been all well before.
God is holding on to us. Not just before the storm or after it...but most especially in the middle of it.
Two days after Jacob's discharge, I'm driving I-70 back to Colorado with my two older kids. We've got a date with my wife & Jacob to pick them up from the airport. (An 18-hour car ride was not an option for Jacob!) And then that summer playlist of downloaded songs cycles to another one of our kids' favorites. "My Lighthouse" was the theme song for a Vacation Bible School they attended at the beginning of the summer. It's a stretch of the trip when my passengers are sound asleep, but my thoughts aren't. When the song comes on, it interrupts my anxieties about the unknowns about Jacob's road to recovery -- when would the next surgery be, how many would he need, how are we going to pay for all this, etc.
In my wrestling and in my doubts
In my failures You won't walk out
Your great love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea, whoa
You are the peace in my troubled sea
My Lighthouse, my Lighthouse
Shining in the darkness
I will follow You
My Lighthouse, my Lighthouse
I will trust the promise
You will carry me safe to shore
Even if I didn't know how things were all going to work out, what I knew for sure is that we'd be brought safe to shore.
I held back tears again in that moment. And that's when Psalm 32:7 flashed into my memory. Songs. Songs of deliverance. At just the right time and in just the right way, God used simple songs to sing over me and deliver me from my fears. No wonder a Hebrew hymnal is tucked away right in the middle of the entire Bible. No wonder we incorporate singing in modern worship. They're more than just emotional sentiments. They're for instruction and exhortation, and even deliverance and salvation. May God continue to surround us all with songs of deliverance!