James Kalis
8 months ago

Moved by Music

A cool August night, I was alone, sitting on the beach in Long Beach Island at 2 am. The atmosphere was liminal and my heart was full. The prior 40 hours were filled with awesome hangs with some of my best friends in the world as we reflected on high school, and looked ahead to our new adventures in college. As I was verging on my second overnighter in a row, not even thinking about sleep, I put on a Spotify playlist hoping to find some new music. I was met by Hillsong’s lyrics “I bought the world and sold my heart. You traded Heaven to have me again”. My heart dropped. The melody and rhythms gave me an overwhelming sense of comfort. A comfort that I needed at this time in my life, as the future held so many unanswered questions for me.

 As I listened to “Touch the Sky” for the tenth time in a row my eyes started watering. The lyrics finally struck a chord. I went on to listen to this song over and over again until I watched the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean.

This may have been one of the most genuine times of praise I’ve ever experienced. There’s a certain weight that music holds that is unlike any other. It draws us in to have a personal connection with God in that moment.

Music is often used as an invitation by God to connect with us in a new way. Not just with lyrics, rhythms and melodies act as elements in which we are spoken to by the Holy Spirit. The song “Touch the Sky” became a safe haven I could come back to. God used this song to give me a comfort in my surrender, and He used it as the soundtrack that eased my anxiety.

We can use music as a tool for worship both in our private life and in public. This idea is best captured by the Hebrew word zamar in the Bible. It is a word that appears forty-one times in God’s word both in narrative and in the psalm.

I will sing a new song to You, O God;
On a harp of ten 
strings  I will sing praises (zamar) to You
- Psalm 144:9 (NKJV)

When was the last time you sat alone or in a worship service and participated in zamar? We don’t have to sing or play an instrument to engage in zamar. We should, however, allow the music to soften us as it is used as a soundtrack to prepare our hearts for God’s word. This can be expressed in any way we please. Music gives us a freedom to demonstrate our worship in an intentional way. That may be with lifting our hands in singing. Or it may be in meditation as we merely listen to the Melodies and Rhythms sung by the church body or a recording.

My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. (zamar)
- Psalm 57:7 (KJV)

I urge you. Fix your heart Towards Him. Next time you are in a congregation listening to your favorite, or not so favorite worship song, let God take you somewhere you’ve never been before. Intentionally participate in worship as God uses the talents of his children to fill the room with song. There’s nothing more delightful to God than to hear the praises of His children, and He wants to hear your zamar. Your version of praise that is specific to you, and only you can offer Him.