The other evening my husband and I decided to go out to dinner.
We went to a Japanese/hibachi style restaurant. Since we arrived so early, we were the only patrons in the restaurant, so we got undivided attention.
The food was wonderful and artfully prepared.
Somehow Bruce secretly let the hostess know that my birthday was only a couple of days away. So when it was time for dessert, the hostess, two cooks, and two I-don’t-know-whats emerged from the kitchen with the strangest looking percussive instruments I’ve ever seen. I’m a musician but I couldn’t summon a name for even one of them.
The group paraded through the aisles and surrounded our table. Then we were “treated” to a raucous, off-key rendition of “Happy Birthday.” I thought, somewhere in this world, most likely Asia, these instruments are well known and the listeners delight to the individual sounds they produce.
But to my western ears, they sounded liked clanging pieces of iron. It kind of reminded me of that funny scene in “The Christmas Story” where the family’s Thanksgiving turkey has been devoured by the neighbors’ dogs, so they go to the only restaurant open on Thanksgiving: a Chinese restaurant. There, the family is treated to an adorable rendition of “Deck the Halls,” sung by waiters with very, very strong Chinese accents.
A couple of days later, Bruce and I sat in church and sang worship songs accompanied by the usual and beautiful piano, guitars, percussion, and voices.
My heart swelled at the beauty of the music and the glory of the words.
I suddenly remembered our dining experience at the hibachi restaurant. I thought, this is Sunday morning, or almost Sunday morning in most places of the world. What must it sound like to heaven’s ears with all the different sounding instruments, the strange tongues, the different styles of singing, all making music simultaneously? To my ears it would sound strange, maybe even chaotic. But the Lord understands all tongues and cultures and reads all hearts and minds. The sound of the world’s worship must sound very different to Him.
Oh, may I come to delight in these sounds in the same way.
May I never think that just because my way of worship is familiar that it is in any way superior or more cherished by my Heavenly Father.
Wouldn’t it be grand to be able to sit far up in the atmosphere, so far up that you could view half of the world? Imagine being able to hear all the various sounds of worship. Imagine, also, if angels joined in the singing.
I like to remind myself each Sunday that I’m not just singing inside of a building, heard only by few individuals sitting nearby.
The ceiling of the church sanctuary is no barrier to the witnessing eyes of God and His angels. They see and hear all of it. In each church. Everywhere.
What an awesome thought!
“Praise the Lord. Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty heavens. Praise Him for His acts of power: praise Him for His surpassing greatness.
Praise Him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise Him with the harp and lyre, praise Him with tambourines and dancing, praise Him with the strings and flute, praise Him with the clash of cymbals, praise Him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150 NIV Bible)