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How Can You Mumble?

How can you mumble

Some of my most memorable moments of public worship have been in settings where I did not speak the language. I have stood with a congregation in rural Zambia as they’ve clapped and moved and praised the Lord in Bemba, a language that is utterly unknown to me. I’ve sat with a congregation in the far reaches of Cambodia as they’ve sung in Tampuan accompanied by instruments scratched together with boxes and gourds and other bits and pieces. I’ve known neither the language nor the musical style. I’ve worshipped with megachurches in South Korea and house churches in North Africa, knowing not a word of Korean or of Arabic. Yet in every case, I have worshipped.

In every case, I have worshipped because even though I haven’t been able to sing, I’ve been sung to. Colossians 3:16 commands us to sing for the benefit of one another even as we sing ultimately to the Lord. Whenever we sing, we direct our hearts vertically toward our God, but we also direct our words horizontally toward our brothers and sisters. We sing from the gospel, for one another, to the Lord.

These are not the only occasions in which I’ve been unable to sing. I remember the early days after Nick’s death in which I found myself almost incapable of it. When I tried, I would often just break down and cry. The loss was too raw, the lyrics too poignant, the emotions too overwhelming. But though I couldn’t bring myself to sing, it was a tremendous blessing to be sung to. I would often just stand in silence with my arm around Aileen, tears spilling down our cheeks, as the church sang around us, as they sang for us. Their words became our words, their faith shored up our faith. Their words washed over us like God’s own.

In that vein, do you ever consider that sometimes the most selfless thing you can do on a Sunday morning is sing? Do you consider that sometimes singing is the most important way you will serve others during any given worship service? This is true whether you’re one of the musicians at the front or one of the members in the pews. God has designed singing to function in this way, to be one of the many “one another” ministries.

So will you sing for me on Sunday? Will you sing for others on Sunday? Will you sing as a means through which you can bless, encourage, equip, and strengthen others? It could be that someone near you does not know your language, but does know your Lord. Sing the words he cannot articulate! It could be that someone close by is wavering in her faith, uncertain of her standing before the Lord. Sing the assurance that will soothe her soul! It could be that a couple a few rows ahead has suffered a grievous loss and has been made nearly mute with grief. Sing the comfort they so badly need to hear!

Whether you are a man or a woman, a natural talent or all but tone-deaf, someone who likes to belt it out or someone who merely mumbles along—my question for you is this: How can you fail to sing when others need your words? How can you stay silent when others need the truths that could so easily pass through your mouth and reach their ear? How can you mumble when others so desperately need to hear?


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