“Father’s Heart” playlist

soul sings 27530_original-4303“In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.” (James 1:21, The Message)

Almost 20 years ago, after deciding another counselor hadn’t helped me, I consciously chose to walk through the doors of my local church seeking healing in my soul and in my marriage. Basically, seeking God. And the question in the center of my heart was “What kind of Father lets bad things happen, lets dreams die?”

By then I was a mother, and I knew the hopes and plans I had for my own children. My love for them seemed boundless – so wouldn’t a God who is love have boundless love toward me? St. Paul prays that we be rooted in a love that is so broad, so long, so high and so deep it passes knowledge! (Ephesians 3:17-19) Based on things that had happened to me, things that had been done to me, it didn’t seem that way.

By that time, I had experienced being molested as a child, and then being kidnapped and raped as an adult. I know there were people who thought “Of course she became ‘religious’ – how else does someone who’s had such a traumatic experience deal with that?” As if God was a form of medication.

That is so far from the truth! I wish I could describe to people how much “life” God has brought to my life since I walked through those doors – how one-dimensional my “before” life seemed. Now I am on an adventure with the God of the universe, who brings dead things to life and speaks things into existence (Romans 4:17). I am learning to let God be my gardener, landscaping me with the Word, and making a salvation-garden of my life.

Yes, there have been times of spiritual shipwreck, when I felt stuck on an island of pain with no rescue in sight, but God has ALWAYS shown up. Through different seasons I’ve been led to study and use a variety of healing methods: the Ignation spiritual exercises, theophostic prayer, Elijah House teachings, and more, and always with the support of my praying friends. I have brought many situations to God the Father – and He gives me new experiences of His heart that feel creative, life-giving, and more “true” than the circumstances that (I thought) defined me.

This happened last week when I came across a book in which the author spoke about the power of worship music in her prayer life, and how she would sit with the Lord and let praise music wash over and fill her. I got the idea to create my own “Father’s heart” playlist – 25 songs (see below) that cause my spirit to vibrate in joy – words in those songs speak life into me, they landscape my heart.  I imagine resting my head on His chest, and listening to His heartbeat – the way my own children would rest on my lap. Feeling safe, loved and renewed during this time of “abiding” transfers to the rest of the day.

As I sat in the corner of my kitchen dedicated to prayer time (Father’s heart time!), I was startled by a loud “thud” – oh no! I realized a bird had hit the window, fooled by the reflection of trees that is especially realistic at certain times of the day. I looked outside, and just below the window was a tiny wren laying on its back, obviously hurt or dead. I rushed outside to check – its tiny chest was heaving up and down, and its eyes looked up at me in fear.

Oh Lord! There’s something about the helplessness and innocence of God’s creatures that touches my heart.

As I drew closer, the wren reacted in panic, flipped itself over and made a weak hop to the edge of our deck, one wing cocked at an awkward angle.

I started praying: “Heavenly Father, you love your creation and care enough to feed the birds, and you care about what I care about – please heal this little bird!”

My heart poured out a prayer – it came out as a song – loud, my arms raised to God. It was coming from my heart, and I didn’t care what the neighbors might think!

I placed some seeds into my hand, and as I set them down next to the bird, it took off with a powerful flutter over the roof of our house – I didn’t see where it landed.

Wow! Thank you God!

Would that little bird have been ok anyway? Possibly. But I know I was connected to the Father’s heart as I sang.

I felt as if my prayer song had spoken life and healing into that little bird, that the time I spent soaking in the Lord’s presence, letting worship songs pour into me, songs that fill me with His love, His hope, His life, that’s what poured out of me. Seeds bursting into life.

How do you compare my “before” life to the  life I have now? Where the God of the universe shows me how I can partner with Him – how I can pick up a book, decide to create my own playlist, a playlist that fills me with words of life and hope, and then discover that it can pour out of me into a tiny bird. But God’s plan is even greater than that: “Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable than they are?” (Matthew 6:26) And I realize how incredibly connected I feel with my heavenly Father – the Father who sings into my life, and has transformed me from a broken, hurting bird into one that startles people with the power of its flight.

Father God, thank you for pouring Your life-giving Word into us, seeds that burst into life. Continue to landscape my life with Your love and Your truth. I want to always be planted by Your living water, growing deep roots, and yielding abundant fruit, and I ask that You sing over me in new ways, creative ways, that remind me of who I am with You and the destiny I am flying toward. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen. 

(Some of the songs on my playlist: “My Soul Sings” by Delirious?; “How He Loves” by David Crowder Band; “Your Love Never Fails” by Chris McClarney; “My Lighthouse” by Rend Collective; “Mighty to Save” by Hillsong United; “You Never Let Go” by Jeremy Camp; “God of Brilliant Lights” by Aaron Shust;  “Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)” by Chris Tomlin; and “Great Are You Lord” by All Sons & Daughters)