Sunday, May 5, 2013

Don't Stop The Madness

     I cannot express how much Tenth Avenue North's latest album The Struggle has meant to me. I speak music. Music often can change my attitude and give words to the cries of my heart when my own words fail me. I cannot count the number of times I have cried out the lyrics of Tenth Avenue North's song "Worn" as a prayer of my own fatigue and a desperate plea to see my struggle redeemed. The first time I heard "Worn" was the week that my sister was given a terminal diagnosis, so after hearing that song, I quickly got the album. This whole album has comforted me immensely because the lyrics are so deeply rooted in Scripture.

     However, one song on the album was a little difficult for me to listen to. The chorus of "Don't Stop the Madness" says,
Don't stop the madness
Don't stop the chaos
Don't stop the pain surrounding me
Don't be afraid, Lord, to break my heart
If it brings me down to my knees

When I first heard this song, my heart reviled against this message. Everything in me cries, "Stop the pain! Don't break my heart! Why is there so much chaos? Why don't You protect me?" In so many ways, this song is NOT the prayer I voice to God. But then I quietly am reminded of the saying I have heard in so many sermons, "God is more concerned with my character than my comfort." It amazes me how different God's priorities are from my own. I am often reminded of Isaiah 55:8-9 when it says,
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the Lord
"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Hallelujah! What a promise! I hardly ever know what is going on in life. How wonderful it is that God is in control even when I am completely clueless!

     While I would prefer for God to work great and mighty works in my life while I sit comfortably surrounded by earthly happiness and success, God rarely does things the way I would prefer them. Instead of saying, "I will make you comfortable," the Lord says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9). It is grace that we are promised and the result of this promise is followed by a declaration of peace in spite of pain. Paul then says, "For the sake of Christ, then I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:10). It is when I am broken and I have nothing left to give that God's glory is clearly shown.

     This same theme is displayed in Hebrews 12. I don't know if I have just been completely unobservant or what, but in all the times I have read about "being surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses" (Heb. 12:1) I never noticed that those witnesses all experienced trauma and tragedy. This verse comes directly after Hebrews 11:32-40 a long list of horrible persecutions people experienced. It is because of these examples and the example of Christ's pain that we are encouraged to "run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Heb. 12:1). We run because Gods' grace is able to make us strong enough to continue.

     So on a day when I watched my youngest sister break down... "My grace is sufficient for you." When I listened to my other sister bawl through "I Surrender All" because she knows that she is dying... "My grace is sufficient for you." And my response needs to be to press on.

     In the last chorus of "Don't Stop the Madness" the last two lines of the chorus change. It says,
Do whatever it takes to give me Your heart
And bring me down to my knees, Lord

Yes, I will still pray for healing and deliverance. But, regardless of how God works, it is my deepest prayer that God will give me the grace to say "Amen" to His decision.

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