A Measure of Rest

A Measure of Rest

One of the things I have missed the most during the Covid-19 pandemic is being able to go into Nursing Homes and sing to the residents. It was such a joy to be part of the Impact Singers. The group was originally formed in 2008, out of Erie First Assembly of God’s choir. Over the years, we were joined by singers and musicians from other churches who also loved hymns. We had talented guitar players, gifted song writers, rocking pianists, and a fellow who played the saw!  Watching the residents faces become peaceful and joyful as we sang cannot be likened to anything I’ve ever experienced. It was humbling and wonderful and we visited as many Nursing Homes around Erie as would have us. I always came away with a full heart after singing the old hymns that are so familiar to that generation. When the Impact Singers get to heaven, I’m sure we will meet some of those precious residents. I imagine they will greet us and say, “I know you. You sang to me!”

Matthew 18:19, “Again I tell you, if two of you on earth agree (harmonize together, make a symphony together) about whatever they may ask, it will come to pass and be done for them by my Father in heaven.”

Many parallel’s can be drawn between a symphony and the Church but the Lord keeps bringing me to the rests. While musical notes are the main thrust of a musical score, the timing of the notes and rests (pauses) in the music are very important. For example, Rudolf The Red Nose Reindeer and Rock of Ages begin with the same seven notes. It is the timing of those notes that make the difference in the two songs.

Sometimes in music a notated rest in the score is just long enough to take a breath. Or there may be measures (sections of music) when extended rests are called for. During these rests the musician doesn’t go to sleep or abandon the music, but keeps counting and listening with a sharp eye on the conductor. For it is the conductor that will queue the musician for their entrance and a good musician does not want to miss an entrance!

Given the tumultuous months our country has been through, many of us are weary and could use a measure of rest. If the 2020 elections and Covid-19 were a musical score, it might sound a lot like Mussorgsky’s orchestral work, Night on Bald Mountain. Written in 1860 the piece depicts a night of evil spirits running amok before they are dispersed by sunlight and church bells. However, If God grants a measure of rest before daybreak, we must still keep our attention on the conductor, expecting there is more to come.  Those waiting for the movement of the conductor’s baton, use the rest to keep their instrument ready. The horns are cleaning out their spit valves. Woodwinds are keeping their reeds wet. Stings are tightening and tuning. As the measure progresses, musicians sit on the edge of their seat anticipating the conductor’s next move. And he will move! Symphonies don’t end on a rest. They may crescendo and end with great fanfare or decrescendo to a quiet finale, but never end on a rest. God will move!

But why must some rests be so long? Why the silence of God? In Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby teaches that the silence of God is sometimes necessary to bring us into a greater revelation of Himself. When Lazarus dies, Mary and Martha asked Jesus to come because they knew the Savior could heal. But Jesus waited until their brother was four days dead in order to give them a fresh revelation of Himself. He knew they were ready for a greater revelation of Christ than they had ever known (John 11:1-43). Jesus’ silence was not rejection but was the rest before the next movement of God in the symphony, the revelation of resurrection life!

If the United States is granted a period of political quietness in the coming months, let’s take advantage of it. We can take a lesson from musicians and how they use their measure of rest. Like the horns, we have opportunity to cleanse our hearts of debris. As the woodwinds, we can keep our hearts soft with the water of the Word. We can all re-tune our minds by the reading of God’s Word. Then, as we’ve kept count and anticipate the end of the rest and the beginning of a new movement, we keep our eye on the conductor even more intently. The Concert Master is ready to take the lead in following the queue. Lungs are full of breath ready to make a new sound.

So, what is the greater revelation of Himself that Jesus has for the Church today? What will be the next movement of the conductor? Whatever it is, let’s be ready!

By Cindy Matta