nancy williams

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Archive for March, 2010

Easter Reminds Us to Hold on and Look Ahead

Silence is golden, or so the saying goes. There’s the calm after the storm. The hush of a crowd, offering a moment of silent reflection and honor. The peaceful quiet as a baby sleeps. When offered in a time of worship, silence allows hearts to join in reverence. It also often indicates a finale, a successful completion, a mission fulfilled; and we recognize it with applause. However, when the silence is not welcomed, the cries of a grieving heart may be heard. Whatever the message, we act on the belief that an end has come.

Sometimes silence may not signal an end at all but rather a pause to bring closure to what has been experienced and to prepare for what is yet to come. If you have attended musical concerts, you may have experienced this very thing. You’re listening to a composition that seems to end. Then there is silence. The audience, supposing the conclusion, begins to applaud, only to have the musicians begin the next movement of the same piece. What you experienced is known as a grand pause. It is not the end of the musical selection, but rather a distinct break between segments as the musicians guide listeners from an ending of one phase to the beginning of another.

In the music of our lives, there are grand pauses-times of silence. They sometimes come with expectation as a chapter of life draws to a close, creating a pause to celebrate completion, reflect on lessons learned, and prepare to move ahead. Pauses also come about when God steps into our hectic lives to calm the whirlwind and provide the breathing space we need to slow down, rest and refocus before moving on. There are times when a life pause-a time of silence-provides a respite from the storms of life, a soothing balm to heal the heart and renew the spirit.

Yet there are times when that grand pause comes, all is silent, and we find ourselves questioning, “Why did the music stop? Shouldn’t something be happening? Where are you, God? What do we do now?”

As this Easter season unfolds, I’ve found myself reflecting on how Jesus’ followers dealt with such a time in their lives. They had spent three years believing they were on a journey toward deliverance and that Jesus was, indeed, the Messiah they had been waiting for. They sat at the feet of their teacher as He opened the eyes of their heart to a deeper understanding of God. They stood by His side, ministering to others and they shared their hearts with Him as they broke bread together. The future looked full of promise. Then, suddenly, their dreams shattered and their joyful hearts flooded with fear, grief and hopelessness as they watched their Messiah taken from them, crucified and then buried in a tomb. Then came the silence.

The next day for them was the Sabbath, a day of worship. What a challenge to draw close to God in worship and obedience in the midst of what seemed like profound loss and future uncertainty. Yet, He carried them through that Sabbath into a new day and showed them that what felt like an ending was, in fact, a pause in His ultimate plan for their lives-and for ours. Once again, God’s songs of love filled their hearts with hope as they met their risen Savior-God’s promise fulfilled.

Easter is a season of joyful celebration and a time of hope. A reminder that when we experience losses, when we think life is over and there’s nothing left, when the road ahead looks uncertain and we don’t have a map at hand to guide us, when life seems to be at a standstill and things aren’t moving as we think they should, we must be still, take a deep breath and recognize we may be experiencing a pause. We need to hold on, press through the darkness, draw close to God in the silence, wait on Him, listen for His voice and remember His promises, and then watch as He leads us into the promise of a new day.

Enjoying an Unexpected Pocket of Pleasure

It was one of those unseasonably warm February afternoons. Temperature hovering around 70 degrees. Cloudless blue sky. Sunday afternoon with free time and a desire to set aside the to-do lists for some fun. It didn’t take long before we were in our car, convertible top down, cruising the back roads of the Hill Country. It’s the unexpected, unplanned pockets of pleasure that make life fun and we wanted to capture one of those experiences. We wandered our way along the countryside, enjoying God’s gifts of nature and a few of the many treasures to explore in Texas. It was fun to find new places we had not visited before.

As the sun began to touch the tip of the horizon, we headed for home, deciding to stop for a bite of supper along the way. “Let’s find a place we’ve never been,” my husband who is always up for new adventures. Soon we came to a little café in a small town, saw some cars parked nearby, and decided it might be worth checking out.

Greeted at the door by a pleasant aroma coming from the kitchen and a friendly young woman, we noticed two dining rooms. On the right was a warm, inviting area, with several tables occupied by customers enjoying dinner. Our hostess began to lead us in that direction, until we turned and scoped out the smaller room on the left. It was more casual looking and people seemed to be clustered in groups rather than individual dining parties. There were toes tapping and heads nodding in rhythm, as music filled the air. Not the typical recorded songs playing through overhead speakers but rather a group of adults playing assorted instruments and singing vintage tunes.

“We’d like to sit in here,” we quickly asked, hoping our hostess would agree. “No problem, she replied. “On Sunday evenings people get together to sing and play a while. No big thing. You’re welcome to join in if you’d like.”

We ended up lingering over a pleasant country meal, a collection of nostalgic music and some relaxing conversation.

We even dared sing along a time or two, not so anyone could hear beyond our table, just an effort to enjoy an unexpected pocket of pleasure together. The music was an assortment from classic country, to old ballads, even a few show tunes and a bit of vintage rock and roll thrown in, reflecting the broad range of age and life experiences of the group that entertained us. Actually, I think they were there to entertain themselves and we were just eavesdropping on their fun together.

It was such a treat to watch these musicians sing and play from the depths of their memories and out of the overflow of their love of music. They struck a chord with this musician’s soul. It wasn’t about their accuracy of word or note. It was about their freedom to express themselves in a way that brought smiles and a connection with those who gathered on the sidelines. They hadn’t rehearsed or planned anything in advance, other than to show up and share an evening together. No pretension. No judgment. No pride. Simply a love for their God-given talent and respect for the same in others.

Knowing we had a drive ahead before we reached our home, we thanked the musicians for sharing their music with us and were on our way, agreeing we would find our way back there again. On the way home, we talked about the pleasure we saw in the spirits of those musicians as they played and sang from their hearts. It was refreshing to share that experience with them. Life can get so busy and so orchestrated at times—for us all—with full agendas to follow and tasks to accomplish. We may not take the time to simply relax and enjoy each other’s company, each other’s talents, each other’s laughter and life experiences. The agenda for those musicians that night was simple: Make the most of the present moment and share what you have with those around you. I’m thankful we shared that same agenda. The stuff great memories are made of.