Hymn: “Serve the Lord with Gladness” – Word and Music B. B. McKinney (1886-1952)
When reading or studying scripture, we often compare ourselves to the characters we encounter there. There are times I identify with Joseph the dreamer or David the musician. I try not to cast my lot with Jacob the deceiver, Judas the betrayer, or Thomas the doubter. Lately I’ve felt more like Methuselah!
In my encounters with God, however, I seem to relate more to Elijah than to Paul. I tend to find my richest moments… even guidance for decision-making… in the quieter experiences. Unlike Paul who was struck down in a dramatic on-the-road light show with the booming voice of God questioning his destructive tendencies, I have consistently found God in something that more resembles a still small voice – an inner tugging – a gentle nudge.
In the stillness of the quiet, God’s voice I hear.
I’m sure this is why I prefer the more contemplative worship experience to the bombastic… why I yearn for silence in worship – a practice which has slowly been absorbed into constant sound. With Jesus, I sometimes need to “get away from it all” and get myself recentered spiritually.
One of my all-time favorite minister retreats was sponsored by the Cooperative Baptists but held at a convent. Much of our time (including most meals) was spent in total silence. I was invigorated by the absence of instruction, energized by the lack of lecture.
Today’s hymn-line comes from another one of those rollicking gospel songs familiar mostly to Baptists, I’m afraid. Loping along in 6/8 time, the jig-like melody almost obscures the depth of this tiny phrase:
Listening, ever listening, for the still small voice,
His sweet will so precious will be our choice.
If we are going to make it through this life with any degree of success at holiness, we likely need to be constantly (ever) aware of the still small voice of God at work – alert to those directives from deep within – choosing the precious, sweet will of our Lord in order to serve him in gladness. If you are anything like me… if you identify more with Elijah than Paul… that is a must-do assignment.
“Let those who have ears, listen, hear and heed.” (Mark 4:9 RGV)
An Organ Setting by Ron Boud played by Garrett Martin
written in honor of Sharron Lyon