By Dick Blackford
One night I dreamed I died and went to heaven. I heard songs, and was asked to join the huge group that was singing. There were 1000 sopranos, 1000 altos, 1000 tenors, and one bass — me. We reached a crescendo, which called for as much volume as we could muster. Right in the middle of it the conductor stopped and said, “Brother Blackford, pu-leez, a little softer on the bass.
Well, that didn’t really happen. But sometimes I sing too loud. Sometimes I sing the wrong verse when everybody else is singing something different. I hate it when that happens. And those times when I sing too loud seem to always happen when I’m singing the wrong verse! I enjoy singing, but I’ve got to stay in my place and sing with the group.
When I was younger and much of a dreamer, I imagined what it would be like to be the conductor of a huge orchestra and chorus. I never made it, but I have done something that far exceeded those dreams. There is scarcely anything more rewarding than directing the hearts and voices of children in vacation Bible school! Their bright eyes, smiling faces, enthusiasm and volume (!) do more for me than being an orchestra conductor could ever do. Children who are eager to learn and unashamed to sing of their faith are worth more than gold.
Another opportunity a few years ago reminded me of some of our heavenly benefits. I returned to my hometown to direct 17 grandchildren as they sang at the funeral of their grandmother. It hadn’t been long since we had done the same at their grandfather’s funeral. Surely, the angels couldn’t have sung any sweeter.
One of the most touching and memorable occasions was when I spoke at the funeral of a little girl. It was difficult to keep my composure as children sang the cherished children’s hymn, “Jesus loves me, this I know.”
Singing fits many occasions. We sing when we are sad, and we sing when we are happy. Paul and Silas sang after having been beaten and imprisoned unjustly (Acts 16). “Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise” (Jas. 5:13). In John’s heavenly vision he saw victorious saints singing the song of Moses and the Lamb (Rev.15:3). Some were depicted as singing “a new song” (Rev. 5:9; 14:3).
Those who miss heaven will miss one of the greatest joys for having chosen the sounds of wailing and gnashing of teeth over the song of victory.
One of the reasons we sing today is to encourage people to obey the gospel. It is difficult to understand why anyone would reject the invitation. It is the strange mercy of our God that he continues to linger while “sweetly the tones are falling.” We sing a number of hymns that express in words better than we could the need and urgency for you to obey the gospel. I often wonder how anyone could resist. But ever so often there is a breakthrough. And perhaps at the next worship service, as we sing, there will be a tender heart that is touched by the message and will break out of the bonds of sin and declare their faith in Jesus Christ. Will it be you?
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