It seems like so long ago that I was on a maternity leave or maybe it was the extra time that I tacked on to each of these leaves to spend time with my children at home. I got a phone call from the admin at my school--that a TOC was needed. Okay, sure, I can do that. But it was for Primary Music. Now, I have done a lot of teaching at a lot of levels and subject areas, but Music was one thing I had never tried before. I almost laughed to myself--does this particular caller know me? Has she ever heard me? Oh, these poor, poor children who get to have me today!
No one had said it, but the lady that I had TOC-ed for had battled cancer before and the timing--add to that the fact that I got called a week later to cover a Music class again--had me speculating. Unfortunately the results turned out to be exactly where my mind had wandered: she did have cancer again.
It is many years later. I still don't know this lady well. I've never shared any significant soul-spilling conversations with her, I'm not in her "circle of friends." But God has done some significant things for me through her (and I am only guessing He has done that for many others around the world who keeps up on her happenings)--and that is what I want to share on my humble little blog here.
She keeps a blog. Lately it has talked a lot about procedures and hospital stays. But only a few weeks earlier, she spoke not only of these procedures and stays, but of her greatest hope--the Saviour that she gets to praise. She spoke of hymns and prayers. She spoke of joy and gratitude. She spoke of hope through the hard times and she spoke of hope in a loving and healing God.
That first time I TOC-ed for her, I had to teach some primary students the current "Song of the Month." It was called, "How Can I Keep From Singing Your Praise." Lucky for me, and thankfully for those groups of students who walked into my care for the day, she left a CD! I instantly loved it and had its chorus go through my mind over and over--the way us non-musical people might. (If there is anything significant that is done in the chords or the workings of the music, that part got lost on me!) I loved it because it spoke of the God who loves me and loves me through every event of my life.
I had no idea who the song was by and it was just recently that I Googled the song for its background. If my findings are accurate, Chris Tomlin wrote the song along with Matt Redman based on a hymn from long ago. Tomlin heard the words how can I keep from singing. . .your praise, and saw (or heard) the relevance for it today. They reworked the words and music to make it the song that it is today.
I don't know what it is like to struggle through an illness like this talented music teacher has. What I do know is that she has proclaimed God's glory through it all. She has ministered of a God who is full of grace and love. She can claim a God who heals and can hold on to a God of comfort. And if I didn't learn of this God through Bible stories, church lessons, school stories, or the like, I have heard it from her on-going testimony of God's goodness to her. What an amazing gift it is to bless people with God's story of love shown in one's life.
In school we were asked to read a letter about her to our students. In one part of it, she said she was looking forward to singing with the angels and the choirs in heaven. Again, this song came to my mind. Again, what an amazing gift it is to bless others with God's story of love--and promise of salvation--shown in one's life.
There is an endless song
Echoes in my soul
I hear the music ring
And though the storms may come
I am holding on
To the rock I cling
How can I keep from singing Your praise
How can I ever say enough
How amazing is Your love
How can I keep from shouting Your name
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart want to sing
I will lift my eyes
In the darkest night
For I know my Savior lives
And I will walk with You
Knowing You'll see me through
And sing the songs You give
How can I keep from singing your praise? How can I ever say enough, how amazing is your love? How can I keep from shouting your name? I know I am loved by the king, and it makes my heart want to sing
I can sing in the troubled times
Sing when I win
I can sing when I lose my step
And fall down again
I can sing 'cause You pick me up
Sing 'cause You're there
I can sing 'cause You hear me, Lord
When I call to You in prayer
I can sing with my last breath
Sing for I know
That I'll sing with the angels
And the saints around the throne
How can I keep from singing your praise . . .
And so I now, I can proclaim those words she taught me--although she did without even meaning to--that how can I keep from singing Your praise. If I look at all that she has gone through--and my knowledge of this is quite limited--and see that she can still cling to that Rock and sing in the troubled times, then that is what I must do, too. I serve that same God she does who is full of amazing love. That same King who lives and who loves--loves me, and her, and all His children. And for that reason, has even made this non-musical heart sing.