For some time I’ve been telling Mary Jane, a.k.a. my sister-in-law-but-more-like-a-sister, that she should publish a book entitled “Preachin’ to the Choir”. You see, she’s married to my pastor-brother, Paul, and being the incredibly gifted musician that she is, she directs the choir at their church, Myrtle Grove Baptist Church, in Wilmington, North Carolina. Almost every week, she sends out an e-mail to her choir that reads more like a blessing and a “cheering on of the saints” to help them grasp the magnitude, beauty and privilege of worship. By the time you read her letter, you’re filled to the brim and ready to sing out the harmonies of God’s grace in a way that comes from somewhere down deep within your soul. It’s a gift she has — communication bubbling up from her own immersion in the presence of God and His heart through worship. It’s my honor and privilege to share one of these intimate letters written to her choir with you today…
Welcome! Mary Jane Cohee Waters — with her encouraging guest post on the blog today.
“The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make His face shine upon thee…” Numbers 6:24-25 (KJV)
“Hearing it often from her lips, I wrote it in her Mother’s Day card and then entered her nursing home room.
We had just purchased a delicate, pink, flowering plant. It reminded us so much of her.
Carefully placing it and the special card on the table beside her, our eyes met and we were blessed.
“Hey there Mama.” my husband’s voice permeated the room with comforting joy.
“Hello son.” Barely moving her lips she whispered it soft and low.
One of us on each side, we leaned in close.
Joy (my preacher-husband’s baby sister), stood sweetly nearby.
“Momma’s been pronouncing a blessing over all her children. As each of us has come to see her she’s spoken it quietly over us.”
Now we understood, it was our turn.
Her frail, thin fingers curled gently around ours and in Jacob-pronouncing fashion her words came slow and labored to our ears.
“The Lord bless thee and keep thee, and cause His face to shine upon thee. The Lord be gracious unto you and give you peace.”
She had spoken the words over us many times before, but this time was different.
Barely audible, her hushed tones seemed sacredly angelic in their pronouncement.
And this time, we not only heard them, we felt them.
We felt their ember-stirring warmth as her gaze penetrated deep into the whole of us.
“The LORD” — [Sovereign Adonai]
“Bless thee” — [With Favor]
“And Keep you” — [in soul-covered protection]
And cause His face — [with the gaze of all comfort]
To shine — [in holy radiance]
Upon thee — [in personal care.]
The LORD — [Your Shepherding Guide]
Be — [In eternal constancy]
Gracious unto you — [with extravagant lovingkindness]
and give — [in lavish open handedness]
you – [His intimate love]
peace. [for a tranquil heart and life].*
*Scripture passage adapted from Numbers 6:24-26 (Amplified Bible)
“I would have been here sooner but I got delayed.”
Who was this woman? And why was she bursting into our mother’s room unannounced?
“You want us to sing for you, don’t you Mrs. Laura.”
Joy knew from past experience that whenever Mrs. Laura saw family visiting her friend and hall-mate, Helen Waters, a song service was sure and soon to follow.
So Mrs. Laura planted herself right in the midst of us.
“What song would you like? It’s your choice.” My accommodating husband spoke it kindly. “Blessed Assurance?”
Quickly thereafter, three-part harmony ensued.
“Blessed assurance Jesus is mine. Oh what a foretaste of glory divine! . . . This is my story, this is my song . . .”
From there came another . . .
“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll . . . and Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight . . . It is well, it is well with my soul!”
Mrs. Laura, though old and unable to walk, was quick to join the chorus. And so was Paul’s momma . . . as best she could.
They murmured it slow, in sync with the song, as their inner spirits gave way to praise.
“God never, ever told me to hush when I was singing to Him.”
That’s what she would tell us in her younger years. And no doubt on this day, the Lord’s ear drew near as two virtuous women blessed His heart.
Eventually the singing fell quiet.
Mrs. Laura’s desire had been nurtured and just as quickly as she entered the room, she wheeled herself away.
Mrs. Waters closed her eyes to rest as we sat quietly taking in God’s orchestrated lesson.
It was a teaching that spoke convicting truth.
Blessing always spreads God’s comfort.
And music always follows blessing.
I understood this concept early as a young child learning to play the piano in my parent’s home.
Anytime something good would bless me (or our family) it wouldn’t be long before my young fingers found their way to the keyboard.
It was inevitable.
Because music is a natural consequence, a Divine benefit, in the outpouring and receiving of a blessing.
And this time spent with Mom Waters was no different.
I (Jehovah) made the widow’s heart sing for joy!”
The Psalmist understood it.
— “For You meet him with BLESSINGS of good things; . . . You make him most BLESSED [and a BLESSING forever]; You make him joyful with the joy of Your presence . . . Be exalted, Lord, in Your strength; We will SING and praise Your power.” Psalm 21 (AMP)
Because a blessed heart is a singing heart.
And I wonder what song you sing when you are blessed?”