Wineskins Archive

December 20, 2013

He Put a New Song in My Mouth (Sept-Oct 1997)

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Jeff Hood
September – October, 1997

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD” (Psalm 40:13).

28I’m completely convinced that you can worship God without singing, but you can’t worship God without singing. Have I confused you yet? Keep reading. Let me explain.

During the winter of 1995 Nashville experienced one of the worst ice storms I have ever driven in. I had been working late in my counseling office, starting my drive home at about 8:45. I could see that the weather conditions had been deteriorating outside, but I didn’t know how bad things were until I started to travel the short seven miles to the house. The ditches and shoulders of the roads were littered with cars that had spun off the roadway. The ice made navigation so difficult that i was quite fortunate to make it home safely that night at all. My wife sat tied up in traffic in another part of town on Interstate 40 because huge trucks had jackknifed in the roadway. She finally made it home at two in the morning! Drivers who were doing their best to make it up the hills and around the curves of Nashville streets found they could not coerce their cars into doing what they would have easily been able to do under normal circumstances. I was a wrecker driver’s dream come true!

Sometimes life feels like that from a spiritual perspective. You feel at a complete loss to get yourself safely through. When things aren’t going right, when you’re in trouble or you’ve lost your way, God is the only one who can manage things. He can put you back on solid footing.

As you can see from the life of David, sometimes those slippery messes you are in are the result of your own mistakes. At other times they are the result of the actions of others. Still other problems are caused by circumstances or catastrophes. Regardless of the origin of the problem, when we pray and are patient, God is faithful to deliver.

When you have been delivered, when you have experienced the “slippery slope” of trouble and disappointment and have been released, then you can realize more fully the safety and confidence of having a firm place to stand. The result is the urge to sing.

Worship follows deliverance. If you had been near drowning and a lifeguard rescued you, the natural response would be to express thanks. Likewise, when you are covered up with problems and are finally delivered by God’s gracious hand, a song of thank you is in order. If you are anything like me, to affirm that you always wait patiently would be a lie. But I have waited and waited for God to respond to my need. There have been times when I wanted desperately for God to act on my behalf when my perception was that he was not. Like David, I’ve had times when it seemed my life was on “PAUSE” while God made his mind up about what he was going to do and when he was going to do it. But even when I think he takes too long, I know that God does act on my behalf. He hears my cry. I may think that he took his sweet time doing so, but the truth is that he acts according to his timing, not mine and he does exactly what is needed at the time.

Let me use a personal example. Three years ago God called me back to fulltime ministry. As I was studying the story of Moses, one of God’s many initially reluctant servants, I was impressed with the fact that I was underemployed while working as a therapist. I would only be able to use all my skills if I were in a ministry setting. My wife and I, in our attempt to be obedient, began the process of applying for openings that we knew about.

Over the course of the next two and a half years we saw doors close, not open, in response to our applications. We interviewed at a number of places and sent resumes to many more, but a match for us wasn’t found. During that time I felt like a football player who had been “pumped up” by an inspiring halftime speech, only to find that the locker room doors had been locked and I couldn’t get out to play the second half! What frustration! But we kept searching and over time made contact with a church in Irving, Texas that was a god fit for us and we were hired.

You may be wrestling with challenges that for you are much more intense than mine. You may be battling cancer or struggling to keep the doors of your business open or watching the life of someone you love fall apart or going through a difficult divorce. Regardless of your situation, know that God is working in your life. He hasn’t forgotten. he will set your feet on solid ground!

Our natural response to this call to ministry and connection with the appropriate church has been to sing a song of praise. We were affirmed that we heard correctly when God called us to ministry. We were placed where he wanted us. We felt compelled to worship God in song.

Now, there are any number of ways to worship. To stand in awe at the beauty of the setting sun is to worship. To watch the trees come to life or to see a child be born and to be struck with the power behind nature is to worship. To sit in a quiet mountain retreat or to watch the power of the surf rolling in at the beach and to consider the majesty of the one who made them both is to worship. You can worship in all these ways without singing, but I’m fully convinced that you won’t worship this way long before you start to sing. Sooner or later song is a part of our expression of homage to our maker and king. That’s what I mean when I say you can worship without singing, but you can’t worship without singing.

If you don’t have a “new song,” if you don’t have a current hymn of praise to God, let me suggest that it’s because you haven’t fully recognized the work that he is doing in your life on a current and ongoing basis. When you don’t see God at work delivering you from trouble and setting you on solid ground, your attempts at praise will be anemic at best, nonexistent at worst. The more you realize how dependent you are on God for every good thing in your life, the more you’ll be filled with energy for song.

If all your favorite songs are songs you’ve been singing for 20 or 40 years, you may have grown less aware of what God is doing in your life today. There is no problem in singing old songs. I’m sure this “new” song of David would be one he could recall even years later. But there is a place for new songs in your life. That is what happens when you’ve been delivered. That is what occurs when you’re back safely on solid ground.

I’ve experienced the slip and slide of life and have felt the deliverance of God that has put me back on firm ground. Now there’s a new song in my mouth. Praise to our God!Wineskins Magazine

Jeff Hood

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