In my youth I would sit listening to composers like Mozart and pretend I was a sailboat, sailing up and down the crescendos of melodic notes, transforming themselves into waves in the storms that held stories with great emotion. It was inside music that I felt the safest and most understood. Listening to music was a detour and an escape from regular life, regardless of how hard it felt or seemed. I remember thinking even then that music had a power to zap me out of a tough spot and into a think-tank of peace. Later in life when I started writing music, it came out of a revelation that God had possibly created music as a way not just to bring him glory, but also to provide for me the grace to keep going. I have grown to think that the creative arts were a mercy act on Gods part.
Years ago, I had an MRI after suffering with back issues and then falling off a trampoline with my then three year-old, son Justice. I discovered that I not only had herniated discs but degeneration as well. The neurologist informed me that all my years of sitting at the piano had complicated the problem. So basically, due to accidents, genetics, and gifting, I have an incredible amount of back pain that surgery would only exacerbate. I have also discovered that in order to understand anybody with back pain issues, you have to have experienced it or you simply have no idea how traumatic it can be. If those of us in chronic pain spoke about how constant it was, it might be all that we talk about.
It is in this area that I have had to trust the Lord many days for strength just to walk. It was during moments of playing and leading worship that the pain would literally stop until I was finished, got up and ended the set. I have stood in prayer lines and been prayed for by fervent pastors and intercessors. I have fasted and believed and fasted again for divine healing that has not yet come. It is in the healing not coming that God has spoken, encouraged, and ushered me into a place with Him that has built trust and yes- hope. It is also here that I have heard Him create some pretty amazing symphonies out of my waiting.
Recently, while laying on an ice pack to relieve strain on my back (after swimming for an hour to try stretching it out), I was in sever pain, frustrated, and quite simply, worn out! I started praying and asking God why over and over again. I then heard Him began to speak out of Psalm 30:11-12 “You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.” How does God turn our wailing into dancing when our wailing can’t dance? How does He expect us to dance when we can’t walk straight? How can sack-clothe be removed without healing first? My mind raced, though my spirit was willing to hear Him, even as the physical pain probed to stall His ability to make any sense at all. It was then that I heard Him through the agony simply say, “I can make a symphony out of your pain.”
I am a curious sort of girl and God knows just enough of what to say to have me inquisitive enough to follow His trail. After all, my life has been lived with an understanding that pain is a trail to promise. Every song I have ever penned has a story. That story has cracks and fractures of roots, and veins of long suffering and it’s sometimes longevity of timing. The beauty of creative expression is that it is usually fueled by the struggle to understand what we cannot verbalize in the now. The deepest worship song is sometimes birthed because singing it seems to come easier than saying it.
“What do you mean a symphony, Lord? What kind of music do you want from my life now?” I prayed. It was then I heard Him ask me to think in a way that was a bit outside of the box of how I have ever thought before. He continued to speak: “Imagine with every throb of pain you feel that it is a note being played in a symphony. Imagine every sharp nerve spasm you’re engulfed with as a swell of fortissimo reaching its peak to tell a story. Imagine your body is swollen with a melody and the ache you feel is worship unto me.” I sat wondering if I was crazy for hearing this, or perhaps God was crazy for speaking it!
I love how creative God speaks. I pondered this for a while as my ice pack melted. The truth of it brought me to a place of awe at how God sees and even understands our pain. I sat there in my misery and did exactly what He asked. I allowed that afternoon of physical agony to become a symphony of praise. It has become a way for me to get through times when healing and relief have not manifested themselves in the way I desire. There is something creatively powerful about pain having to bow the knee to God and become worship. I wonder if God sees even our obedience more as the notes on a musical sheet of orchestrated symphonic brilliance!
I am no Mozart nor Bach, but I am a huge believer in a God who gave them what they gave us, to give me whatever He can, to accomplish all that I need to in this life. That symphonic moment with the Lord does not have me asking for healing any less, but it does have me sailing boats over the melodies of my physical pain, until in time it produces.