By: Charlie Fuller.
In my first life I was a music professor. I conducted choirs and taught private voice lessons. There’s something unique about teaching voice that you might not know if you’ve never taught voice, taken voice lessons or sung in a choir.
That unique thing is that human beings don’t have direct control over the muscles of the larynx (voice box). You can’t decide to tighten or loosen either or both of your vocal cords by direct action. Voice teachers and choir directors have to use imagery to help singers change the way their voice sounds.
Thinking about God is in some ways very similar. The mystery of God is somehow like a butterfly, evading all our best efforts to be captured in the net of mere language. Hebrew, Greek, English, Latin, German, Spanish. It doesn’t matter. No human language is capable of capturing the mystery that is God.
So, when I think through the text of today’s anthem, Draw Me Near, I think of these words from a familiar hymn: “Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.” What’s a fetter? Fetter: to restrain from motion, to shackle.
When I combine our prayer, “draw me near,” with words like “fetter,” I have this image of God’s hands on a chain, grabbing it hand over hand, drawing each of us ever closer. I see God sort of “reeling us in” after we’ve found ourselves far away from God’s presence.
You see, we’re all far away at one time or another. Sometimes because we actively chose a journey in a direction opposite that of God. But more often we find ourselves far from God simply from inaction. We discover our spiritual boat has simply been adrift for a time. We’ve been busy with the challenge du jour: our career, our family, the many easy distractions that come our way.
You might find yourself far away in the moment you’re reading this. God is here in this place. God is present. Immerse yourself in these moments, and God’s presence will somehow become clearer because of your attention. It may still be a bit cloudy. It may not be as clear as you wish. But it’s in worshiping in a community when and where God shows up.
Let’s show up, too.