Could You Hum a Few Bars?

for the week of June 24, 2002
by Rubel Shelly

Syndicated columnist Deborah Mathis recently wrote about a day in her life in our nation's capital. She told about passing through busy Union Station.

The first thing stamped on her memory was the noisy hubbub of sounds. The public address announcer calling out arrivals and departures. Scores of pagers, walkie-talkies, and cell phones crying out for someone's attention. You could hear horns honking, machines clinking out change, and babies crying.

There were voices from every direction. A nervous security guard yelled at a man about to enter a forbidden area. Three women stood up from their bench in order to press the points of their squabble with more emphasis. The man in line in front of her was pacing in tiny, agitated steps. Then she heard someone singing.

"What a friend we have in Jesus, / All our sins and griefs to bear; / What a privilege to carry / Everything to God in prayer." And a perceptible change came to the cacophonous crowd. "O what peace we often forfeit, / O what needless pain we bear, / All because we do not carry / Everything to God in prayer."

The quarreling women closed down their spat and quietly took their seats. Tense shoulders seemed to relax. As the lone voice sang the remaining verses of Joseph Scriven's lyrics from 150 years ago, Ms. Mathis realized she was singing along now. So were the three women who had been bickering. And several more.

"Nice, huh?" offered the man who had been pacing his tiny, tight circle in front of her. "I don't even believe in Jesus, but that's nice."

Most of us try to pack too much into our days. So we rush from here to there, appointment to appointment talking on cell phones as we go. We don't have the recovery times our ancestors had. To get from place to place, they took long walks. Before they could eat, they had to build fires and wait for the coals to glow. In countless little things we would sneer at as frustrations, they were forced to slow down, take breaks, catch their breath. They had time to smell the roses.

If your life has gotten too cluttered, remember that Jesus has invited you to his peace. In our world's stresses and fears, he says, "My peace I give to you. ... Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid" (John 14:27).

"Have we trials and temptations? / Is there trouble anywhere? / We should never be discouraged, / Take it to the Lord in prayer." As you push on to your next task, maybe you could hum a few bars? Remember that he really is your friend?



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