Musical Memory

Mixed race woman sleeping in bed

I love music.  Probably because it has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  When I was two, my folks moved from Louisiana to Colorado by car.  One of the first things they bought was a “Victrola,” the old name for a radio, record player (not CD).  It came even before practical things that they needed.

Mom was tone deaf but music filled the house as soon as my dad came home.  He played classical music at decibels that came close to ear damage.  There were a variety of other selections of folk, popular, and all the nursery songs.  I still remember them.  My memory seems tied to music.  If it’s a song, I remember it, but when I try to memorize, it just doesn’t stick.

At the time I came to know the Lord, back in the 70s, much of the worship music was scripture songs.  Today, I can still know those songs and most of the Bible that I can quote comes from them.

I also found deep truth in the old hymns where the Lord used lyrics to open my eyes and give new understanding.  For example, the Christmas Carol Hark the Herald Angels Sing with the phrase “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate Deity!”  Through that carol John 1:1“…the Word was God” and 1:14 “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,” could ring out in joyful praise.

I love waking in the night to find myself singing one of the Lord’s songs.  Often part of the same song will run for weeks.  I know it may come from being a song that I listen to, but often the words seem the Lord’s answer to a need or brings me to see with fresh light.

For a good while my spiritual life has been predominantly dry.  Not Sahara dry, but dry.  My usual escape from “dry” through the Bible or books hasn’t worked.  My prayer life is not what I desire.  Short term relief has been found in encounters with the beauty of creation, the smell of delightful things like rain or cookies baking, the warmth of relating with those I love—yes, the Lord too, and His music.

I believe that wilderness times like this have a purpose.  I suspect that I know why this one has lasted so long, but I can’t seem to “fix it.”  One song has continued to come and go through this drought.  Not the whole song, but just a few lines at a time.  The song, by Vikki Cook and Charitie Lees Bancroft, is Before the Throne of God Above.  I figure you want to see all of it, so here it is but I have taken out repeated lines and just left the meat.  I love the truth it presents, but long to get to the point where, as another song says, “it’s all about You, Jesus.”[1]

Before the Throne of God Above.

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great high Priest whose name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me

My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart

When satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin

Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me

Behold Him there the risen lamb
My perfect spotless righteousness
The great unchangeable I am
King of glory and of grace

One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased with His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God

The first section I remember singing over and over states, “For God the just is satisfied, To look on Him and pardon me.”  Reminding me that once I accepted the sacrifice, God really was satisfied.  While God does not want us to remain newborns, the work is done.  Scripture says, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” Phil. 1:6 (NKJV) Over and over the words were sung until they truly are written on my heart.

Another section came repeatedly that reinforces these words, “I know that while in Heaven He stands No tongue can bid me thence depart.”  He is Lord of Lord and King of Kings and we, who are His, have a security that is beyond understanding.  Glory—if we just think on that it seems a contradiction to be dry.

Then there was this one, “When satan tempts me to despair.”  It’s easy to be in despair today as we look at the world around us and see the chaos.  When temptation comes there are a number of scriptures that give hope.  One of my favorites is from Psalm 2, stated most clearly in the Message,

1-6 Why the big noise, nations?
Why the mean plots, peoples?
Earth-leaders push for position,
Demagogues and delegates meet for summit talks,
The God-deniers, the Messiah-defiers:
“Let’s get free of God!
Cast loose from Messiah!”
Heaven-throned God breaks out laughing.
At first he’s amused at their presumption;
Then he gets good and angry.
Furiously, he shuts them up:
“Don’t you know there’s a King in Zion? A coronation banquet
Is spread for him on the holy summit.”

 A couple of weeks ago I found a spot on my back that really looked like melanoma.  While I waited to get it checked out, I was surprised (and pleased) at the total calm I felt.  Then came these words from the song, “One with Himself I cannot die.”  The Lord’s reminder that I am in Him who is life.  How can I die?  Too often we forget our citizenship is not earthly and cling to what we know.  The spot has a long name, but is totally harmless.   For years I’ve been saying that physical dying is graduation day.  This experience confirmed that I really believed what I said.

I thank God for music, for the songs that run in my head day as well as night.  Truth is that despite the dry, there is great peace and rest.  It’s just that my soul longs for more of Him.  Which reminds me of another song,

To know Him, to know Him is the cry of my heart,
Spirit reveal Him to me
To hear what He’s saying brings joy to my bones
To know Him, to know Him alone.[2]



[1]  It’s all about You  by Michael W. Smith lyrics

[2] Author unknown


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