Poetry is one of Lori's favorite ways to share memories, to express feelings, and share what inspires her, so others might be inspired.
The Message of Zephaniah 3
I love the beautiful Bible passage above from Zephaniah 3:17. Not only are the verses filled with poetic beauty but the message is so intimate with God's promise to rejoice over us and quiet us with gladness, love, and singing.
In context, this passage comes from a section from Zephaniah 3:14-20. God is revealing His covenant love and faithfulness by promising He will be in their midst one day. Earlier in Zephaniah, he calls the wicked people of Judah to repent and turn back to God. The doom of judgment will end and they will return from their God imposed exile by the evil Babylonian empire. He tells them to sing and rejoice in verse 14. Then He promises He will rejoice over them because they will have repented and been restored. We can apply it to our own lives. We sin and suffer, and God promises restoration and reconciliation upon our repentant hearts and crying out to Him in adversity.
My Zephaniah 3:17 Moments
Back in 1999, I ended up in a psychiatric unit at a local hospital. As you might guess, my time there was full of uncertainty and endless cycles of mood fluctuations. A few months before a friend had said she would pray that God would give me a song. I politely said thank you and dismissed it, feeling sure I would never be blessed with any kind of songs.
I sat on a gurney in the hospital ER corridor for seven hours waiting to be seen for dehydration because I had curled up to die, stopping food and water. Somehow, I knew I would end up on the psych ward. For those seven hours my mind raced like a cyclone of agony. Inside I cried out to God. "Lord, what's happening to me? How do I get through this, God? God. God. Speak to me. Help me."
While my two friends who brought me were chatting away, I was being ravaged by despair and fear. But shortly into my pleading, I heard a voice in my head. A man was singing this hymn chorus:
There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God.
For hours it played in my head, along with the chaos. When I got up to the psych ward I felt safe and relieved. My nurse was a Christian and ministered to me. There was my song (the one my friend prayed for) fulfilled for that day.
The next morning I was full of fear and uncertainty, having never been on a psych ward before. Wouldn't you know, another chorus arrived in my head:
God's love takes good care of me.
God's love takes good care of me.
Though the rains fall,
the winds blow,
the storm is on the sea,
I know God's love
takes good care of me.
It got me through that tumultuous day. But wait, that was two songs, not only one.
The next morning I woke up at dawn. More turmoil, sadness, uncertainty, and starting again down the road toward hopelessness. I was on the eleventh floor. The windows were tall, massive, and I could sit in the window sill. I watched the sunrise over the city asking God for hope, a sign, something to hold on to. The song, written by the Gaither's came to my mind. It was like God was singing it to me.
Because He lives
I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives
All fear is gone.
And I know who holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.
I began to sing it back to God and hope and joy filled me. It was one of the most beautiful and powerful moments of my life. And it was song number three. Exceedingly, abundantly, above all I could ask or think. It didn't fix everything. I had a long journey of healing ahead. But it would come back to me often during stressful times of crisis.
Two years later my world was shattered by traumatic memories from childhood I'd blocked. Many more visits to hospitals in the ensuing years to come. I can't begin to describe the hell it was. I've come a long way, but my diagnosis of bipolar (as well as PTSD) rears its ugly head from time to time. Life and death has hung in the balance time and again. I could write a book full of Divine interventions and blessings that kept me here.
Jesus, thank you.
Below I have written some lyrics. I'm not a musician but maybe someday someone can put it to music.
Back to the song in the window. That scene, and that season of my life no longer holds any pain. Strangely, I've learned that sometimes there is an inexplicable beauty to pain. I look back and feel nothing but joy and gratitude for it. At this point, I see those songs, especially the window sill song, as points of light, God's light shining in the darkness. It's amazing how often my mind goes to that gurney and window sill when I'm struggling. It seems God meant for it to minister more to me now. I call it my "standing stone," a memorial to what God did in that point in the past. The Old Testament tells stories of the patriarchs setting up altars or standing stones to commemorate a time when God showed up and did amazing things.
I pray today, if you are hurting and feeling hopeless that God will give you a song or two or three. I pray He will rejoice over you with gladness, and quiet you with His love. That He will rejoice over you with singing. God bless you.
He Rejoiced Over Me
High above the city
sitting on the window sill,
I watched the dawn awaken
In hopes my mind would still.
The sun rose with splendor,
as I sought from You release,
from the shackles of despair
and the shambles of my peace.
Below the world awoke,
And life began a new day.
Filled with hopes and promises,
The very ones for which I'd prayed.
Morning clouds parted wide,
The mountain stood faithful, true.
New mercies and compassions,
and my hopes became renewed.
And then a song came to mind,
You broke into my sorrow,
You told me because you live,
I can face tomorrow.
You rejoiced over me with gladness,
You quieted me with Your love,
You Rejoiced over me with singing,
and called me Your beloved.
Endurance, Strength, Comfort
I often refer back to that moment when I am going through storms of despair. I live with bipolar disorder and it can bring me to some pretty dark moments. But I have to say that through my lifelong battle, God has revealed Himself to me in a greater ways each time. God allows adversity, suffering and trials to show Himself greater, and to strengthen our endurance, character and faith. It has given me the blessed opportunity to encourage, help, and comfort others. Praise the Lord our trials need not be wasted. We can use them for His glory, our good, and the good of others.
© 2018 Lori Colbo