I gaze above, at the lit up media screen in the front of our spacious sanctuary. Mindlessly, I sing along to reverential words of a familiar chorus.
Flashing back to day and night youth group bashes, I recall singing my heart out in adoration of Jesus. Sincere singing at the top of my lungs had long since become liturgical and meaningless.
With a twinge of guilt, I feel queasy; shift my weight and paste on a smile.
If they only knew...
By day, I masquerade under lettered Dr. Jekyll as successful church youth director. By night, I continue to hide in self-imposed isolation.
Our vibrant young worship leader catches my eye, acknowledging my singing with thumbs-up approval.
I’m such a hypocrite!
Diverting my attention from his eyes, I lower my head in loathing self-condemnation.
Oh no, now he’ll think I’m praying.
“Great singing, congregation! Let’s give Jesus a hand-clap of praise and thanksgiving!”
I hear and heed his invitation, secretly wanting to grab my Bible and flee the premises.
Who do I think I’m fooling?
My heartstrings had been out of tune since fate dealt me a bad hand. To my credit, I don’t verbally blame God; yet, inwardly I point an accusing finger in the direction of heaven.
The sounds of rousing applause, “Praise the Lord, Hallelujah and Amen,” ascend to the cathedral ceiling before wafting back down to my ears. My lips remain drawn, still and silent.
As the music worship-leader takes a seat, my pastor steps up to the pulpit and I breathe a stifled sigh.
At least the singing service is over.
It had been over ten years...
Joyful songs by me were over.
The year was 1980...
I graduated with honor roll recognition; following youth camp, I would marry my high school sweetheart. Before friends went separate ways, the summer camping trip would be our last opportunity to get together with the church crowd. Days 1-6 were uneventful at Camp Yahweh and I looked forward to getting home for my bridal shower.
Counselors planned a farewell picnic and cookout for the last hurrah. The weather was picture perfect, upper 80’s, low humidity and gentle breezes. On a whim, Jim, my fiance, playfully grabbed me by the hand and started running down a sloping hill towards the lake.
Fully clothed, I reluctantly took the plunge as he tossed me in. Shivering, I resurfaced from frigid waters and prepared to give him a tongue-lashing for his prank. He was nowhere in sight. Yet, I knew he had jumped in right behind me…
I called out his name, first questioning his whereabouts. Curiosity turned to anger, thinking he was playing a cruel joke. There was no answer or sign of him anywhere. Frantic, in desperation, I cried out his name repeatedly.
Unknowingly, my cries were alerting friends and counselors. His best friend found him as one buried at sea. Deep below emerald waters, Jim had hit his head on a jagged rock. Never again would we sing Kumbaya together around a campfire.
An ambulance arrived in record time and carried him to a nearby hospital, where the physician on duty sympathetically broke the news to me. Officially, he was dead on arrival. Instantaneously, hope and reason for living drained from my listless body.
My heart never missed a beat but all semblance of life was mere illusion. The only song I would sing for the decade to follow would be a funeral dirge composition. With melancholy as composer, mournful notes reverberated in lament.
Would a web of gloom, doom and despondency entrap me forever?
The sound of gentle plucking of harp strings brings me back into our worship setting. I then remember seeing a guest harpist scheduled in the media screen rolling announcements earlier. Stopping suddenly, the attractive elderly woman stands, facing the curious congregation.
“There was a time when I put my harp aside, simply not having the joy to sing or play. In the reading of Psalm 137:1-4, I discovered that God’s children were in similar straits. They lost their song. God, in his grace led me to a new song. Psalm 144:9 says, ‘I will sing a new song unto thee, O God; upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee.’ This morning, I sense that someone present has lost their song… I urge you, sing your new song.”
Peace and joy envelop me. By day, by night I will lift my voice and soul in song!
*note by writer/fictional entry
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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