Listen to song – “Good gifts”
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)
If you’ve heard me perform before, no doubt you’ve heard this song. It’s a celebratory, end-of-set, sing-along kind of song that has meant so much to me. Last year, my year 5 and 6 music class sang it near the end of the school concert, with their own made up lyrics in the bridge section: a gorgeous list of things they love in life, like ‘swimming in dams and freezing rivers’, ‘walking the dog around the farm’, ‘drawing pictures, making craft and watching too much youtube’! They sang it with joy.
I still remember the first time I read the words that inspired this song, in Henri Nouwen’s ‘The Return of the Prodigal Son’. Chris and I were driving and as I read the section, The Father Celebrates, the tears began streaming down my cheeks. It was a life changing moment of clarity. Neuro-scientists are now writing about the value of forging new neural pathways by choosing to think in new directions and forming new thought habits. And these truths have saved me from falling into abysses of grief and despair, I know. Here are a few snippets…
Celebration belongs to God’s Kingdom…God rejoices. Not because the problems of the world have been solved, not because all human pain and suffering have come to an end, nor because thousands of people have been converted and are now praising him for his goodness. No, God rejoices because one of his children who was lost has been found. What I am called to is to enter into that joy. It is God’s joy, not the joy that the world offers… The father of the prodigal son gives himself totally to the joy that his returning son brings him. I have to learn from that. I have to learn to “steal” all the real joy there is to steal and lift it up for others to see….This is a real discipline. It requires choosing for the light even when there is much darkness to frighten me, choosing for life even when the forces of death are so visible, and choosing for the truth even when I am surrounded with lies… There is so much rejection, pain, and woundedness among us, but once you choose to claim the joy hidden in the midst of all suffering, life becomes celebration. Joy never denies the sadness, but transforms it to a fertile soil for more joy…
People who have come to know the joy of God do not deny the darkness, but they choose not to live in it. They claim that the light that shines in the darkness can be trusted more than the darkness itself and that a little bit of light can dispel a lot of darkness. They point each other to flashes of light here and there, and remind each other that they reveal the hidden but real presence of God. Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son, The Father Calls for a Celebration
May God give you the grace to ‘steal’ or treasure all the joy there is to be had in this coming week, and if you write your own ending to the song, I’d love to hear it!!
Much love to you,
In His unfailing love,