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Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Bless the Lord, oh my soul - oh my soul
Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before, oh my soul
I'll worship Your Holy name
Two years ago today, my phone rang. It was my mom, and she said to me, "Your daddy died."

Instinctively I clicked into "do what needs to be done" mode, and I said into the phone, "I'll be right over." But then it sank in what she had said, and in a voice that even as it came out of my mouth sounded to me like the voice of a little kid, I squeaked, "He died?"

Yes he had. He and my mom had had a nice evening together, talked and enjoyed each other's company, and then they went to sleep. My dad woke up with Jesus.

At his memorial service, my wife and I sang "10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)" for the crowd. I had sung it at a men's breakfast a month or two earlier and Dad had been present, and I wanted to share with the crowd the last song he had heard me sing. Apparently our performance was memorable, at least for our family; several of them have told me since that they can't hear the song without thinking of that day. It bothers me that I've turned this beautiful, meaningful song into something painful for all of us — something that reminds us of the pain of Dad's death instead of what I intended. I wanted to take this opportunity to explain why I thought the song was an appropriate memorial, and hopefully in the process, re-frame it a bit for the family. Maybe even bring a bit of healing.
The sun comes up; it's a new day dawning.
It's time to sing Your song again.
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me,
Let me be singing when the evening comes.
I had heard it before, but I first fell in love with this song when I heard a delicate, intimate acoustic version recorded by Rend Collective. At the time my son was in junior high school, and I was driving him to school every day. The school is on the east side of town, so often we were driving straight into a beautiful sunrise. One morning he and I listened to this song on the way; it's quite a great way to focus on Jesus first thing.

I think it's important to understand that worship is not a melody and lyrics. Worship is something that is inside your heart. It's your attitude of adoration and thankfulness to God that is the real worship. Sure, making music is a great way to express your worship, but you can also express your worship through prayer, or showing love to someone who needs it, or just through choosing to live your life in the way you know in your heart pleases God. You can't literally sing all day, any more than you can literally "pray without ceasing". "Singing" in the context of this song is on one level referring to making actual music, but on another level it is a metaphor for living your life for Christ.
You're rich in love, and You're slow to anger;
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind.
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing —
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find.
My dad was a good man. But he wasn't a perfect man. In the two years since he passed I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about him and his life; in sorting out some of his stuff my brother and I learned details about him that we never knew. I think there were things on his heart to do with his life that he simply never got around to doing. But the one thing that he did do, all the time and every day, was believe that God is good, and had good things in mind for him and for his family. He had frustrations and things that upset him and setbacks and I know he had plenty of times when he felt pretty unhappy, but through my whole childhood he never gave up on God. He took us to church, we had Bibles and books about God around the house, we listened to Christian music. Despite what sometimes looked like evidence to the contrary, Dad never gave up believing that God loved him... loved us... and that it was worth it, living for Jesus. My dad could sing a bit, but he didn't much; his worship was lived out every day.
And on that day when my strength is failing,
The end draws near and my time has come,
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending...
Ten thousand years and then forevermore.
My dad was still worshiping with his life up until the night he moved away from Earth in favor of a much better location. The night before he went to be with Jesus was spent loving his wife, whom he had stuck with through thick and thin in 45 years of marriage. He was still going to church, taking classes about the Bible, and seeking God's will for his life. What I love about this song is that it starts at sunrise and goes to sunset — from beginning of life to end of life — and communicates a very simple message: God is wonderful, and it's worth it to spend your whole life, "everything you have" so to speak, in order to gain His kingdom.

One day, unless Jesus comes back first, it will be my turn to leave this world and enter Heaven. When that happens, I hope that I've followed my dad's example of seeking after Jesus every day of my life on Earth. It's a goal worth following. I hope my family members, when they read this, will be able to see this song in a new light. The song is about you and me and our response to God. I don't want this song to be about our sorrow that Dad was gone. But I think it's okay if we think of him when we hear this song, because I think his life illustrates what this song is reminding us to do. He made mistakes, but he "sang" with his actions a song of worship to God from sunrise to his final sunset. I hope that from now on, hearing this song will inspire us to try as hard as my dad did to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord.
Bless the Lord, oh my soul - oh my soul
Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before, oh my soul
I'll worship Your Holy name!
I'll worship Your Holy name!
I'll worship Your Holy name!

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