Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hot or Cold

Do you remember the childhood game of "hot or cold"? As one person walks toward the unknown chosen object, the caller cheers her on, yelling, "You're getting hot." When she moves away from the object, the caller warns, "You're getting cold."

God has been playing this same game with me. When I'm at church, I notice I feel better. The worship music helps me drop my week's load and connect with God. The sermon ministers to my personal needs (how does the Pastor do that?). I leave feeling all warm and fuzzy, refreshed and strengthened.

Then as the week progresses, I get caught up in doing my own thing and become "cold." Stress and anxiety creep in. As soon as a problem pops up, anger and fear take over. Worry punches in for her 3am night shift. What happened to that Sunday glow?

I pull out my Bible and resolve to keep a daily quiet time. As I read and listen, God speaks directly to my heart and circumstances. A blanket of sanity and security envelopes me. I slip in my worship CD and spend quality time praying and communing with my Savior. God's power revitalizes my spirit. Now I'm all fired up, and ready to go.

I attack my "to do" list with renewed vigor. At first the tasks seem easy enough. But as I progress, I notice there are more jobs than hours. I dig in, speed up (this includes driving), answer the phone, juggle priorities, apologize, and stress. How did I get here again?

Now it's Wednesday evening. If I hurry and avoid interruptions, I have just enough time to make dinner before mid-week Bible study. Fortunately, Bob is a fast eater. We scarf down our dinner in five minutes then hurry out the door.

I enter the study group a little shaky, but soon my attention shifts from myself to the lesson. As we learn together, God's word builds me up. Through our discussion, my friends encourage me. It's no coincidence the experiences they talk about relate directly to me. God is so good. Strolling to the car I notice my step is much lighter. The chill of the night draws a contrast to the warmth radiating from my heart.

Although it took me years to realize the meaning of this game, I finally got it. The more I forget God and do my own thing, the more susceptible I am to stress, anxiety, worry and depression. The more time I spend with God at church, in Bible reading, prayer and fellowship with other Christians, the more peace and strength I have.

So I've made a conscious decision to keep stepping closer and closer to Jesus. I'm drinking the whole glass of God's provision by progressively including Him in every aspect of my life. I've learned the closer I get to God, the better I feel. This is one game I'm determined to win.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Music Therapy

Until recently, I didn't fully appreciate the medicinal effects of Christian music. From my Social Work background I knew music was an accepted therapy for depression, but over the years I'd dismissed it as fun and recreation. When I realized its powerful influence on my emotions, I bumped it to the top of my list of home remedies.

Now when I'm depressed I crank up the worship music. At first its cheery cadence tends to rub me the wrong way. But gradually, as I persevere, my soul's rhythm begins to resonate with the music. The pulsing beat pushes my beleaguered heart to beat faster until the two tempos are in sync.

When I'm anxious, the same music slows the pitter patter of my heart to a slower, calmer beat. Its steady pace persistently coaxes me to relax. Let go, let go, it urges as it gently massages away tension.

The soothing melodies caress my soul, quieting and comforting me like the touch of a friend. Each chord's strum brings a measure of relief to my aching heart.

But the real power comes through the words. When I'm upset, I have a hard time seeing past my problems and hurts. Christian worship lyrics urge me to release control to God. They sing of his glory and power, reminding me the Creator and Lord of all can easily handle my situation. Tender words reassure me of God's love and desire to help. This music helps shift my focus from myself to my Savior, compelling me to surrender and trust.

Worship music ushers me into God's presence. In that safe place fear and dismay disappear. The oppressive heaviness also lifts, leaving me feeling weightless and free. There I experience an intimate closeness with God, a direct connection between his heart and mine. I can now receive his full comfort, direction and healing. I have unencumbered access to God's strength.

Sipping Christian music occasionally while driving in my car is not enough. I decided to drink the whole glass of this marvelous elixir by listening to it every day. When I need a mood adjustment, I purposefully play the worship songs that draw me into the Great Physician's throne room. Throughout my day, Christian music helps equalize my emotions and sooths my soul.