Tune My Heart to Sing

Tune My Heart to Sing


Not everyone likes to sing.

I, however, am not one of those people. I’ll sing in the shower, while I’m getting dressed, and in the car. I even hum tunes to myself when I’m brushing my teeth and taking out the trash.

Not that I enjoy the mundane tasks of life all that much that I mark them by joy; but because I like melody. I like rhyme and verse. Complex drum beats and deep guitar riffs thrill me. Listening to the flow of rappers and the melodic tones of singer-songwriters is soothing.

One area where I have traditionally been shy at singing is during corporate church worship. I still sing mind you, but in soft, slender harmonies that would fail to register with the hearing-impaired.

I was challenged to confront this reality a few years ago after hearing a sermon from the lead pastor of my church. Recently I was reminded of this change of heart—again through one of his sermons. My previous sheepishness in singing loud for all to hear (as Buddy the Elf would say of spreading Christmas cheer) was rooted in a deficient theology of worship.

Off Key, Don’t Care

One of my friends in college was named Dan. He and I never hung out much outside of our campus ministry context—although we did on some occasions. Dan and I were both part of a college ministry on the campus of Marshall University called Revolution. Revolution would meet every Monday night to worship, hear a quick sermon, and then go hang out and eat at a local restaurant.

One thing to know about Dan is that he really likes to sing. More than that, Dan enjoys belting out songs at the top of his lungs. Even more important to know is that Dan is a terrible singer. Like…really terrible.

However, every Monday night Dan would be near the front of the Campus Christian Center singing at the top of his voice—completely off pitch—while sporting a ginormous grin.

One of the songs we would often sing during these Monday meetings was David Crowder Band’s “You are my Joy.” The chorus of the song is quite simple, “You are my joy, you are my joy, you are my jooooooooooy!”

On that final “joy,” Dan would be at full volume, off key, and even drowning out the band. Quite honestly, it was a bit annoying to have to deal with at the time. I was missing a key element in all of this, however.

Sing to the Rafters

While Dan’s singing annoyed and even embarrassed some of us, Dan couldn’t have been happier. Actually, happy isn’t the right word; Dan’s singing was full of joy and excitement. For Dan, singing out the word “joy” wasn’t just something he did because it was in the song—he was actually full of joy in the Lord.

Those of us who were annoyed and embarrassed ought to look back on those times with annoyance and embarrassment, but toward ourselves. Dan wasn’t deficient—his theological outlook on worship was on point—it was us. We had a deficiency in our hearts regarding the person to whom we were singing.

God, the creator, author and sustainer of all things, that is who we were singing to and about. He is our joy! Or, at least He should have been. For Dan, He certainly was. Dan wasn’t singing out to bring attention to himself. He wasn’t singing in order to be recognized as a potential worship leader. He wasn’t even doing it to annoy any of the rest of us. Dan simply sang out because the words “You are my joy” were true and being directed toward God.

Dan was singing to the rafters. He was performing for an audience of one.

Prone to Wander

Much to my chagrin, it took me several years past my college days to realize what was taking place on those Monday nights. It took me even a bit longer to realize the theological deficiency I had in my own heart regarding worship.

One of my favorite songs—and most definitely my favorite hymn—is “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” I love it so much that I have it written in my will to be sung at my funeral.

When viewed correctly, the song is really one of lament and praise. Lament over the state of the singer’s heart, and praise for Christ’s mercy and grace. The first verse is asking God to take a cold, dead heart and turn it into an instrument of praise. “Tune my heart to sing Thy grace,” is all about heart change.

That’s what I needed back then, a change of heart. My heart wasn’t aligned with God, resulting in a lack of true joy.

The last verse mentions the continual struggle to find joy, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” The worries, cares, and pains of life often find themselves getting in the way of joy. Our praises become masked in heartache, and our joys become shadowed by sorrow. It is in these moments that we often find our hearts wandering from God, devoid of joy and sickened by grief.

However, it is precisely in these times of wandering when we need to fix our eyes on Christ. In these times we ought to ask God to “Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.”

Sing, Sing, Sing

Next time you are standing in the back row, singing sheepishly to yourself during corporate worship, sing at the top of your lungs. It doesn’t matter if you are off key, or if those around you are annoyed. You aren’t singing for them, or even yourself. You are singing to worship God.

Maybe it’ll even convict those around you and they’ll soon be full of joy too.

Until next Monday, do widzenia.

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