Tag Archives: parade

The Great Memorial Panic

On this Memorial Weekend I once again have memories of one particular Memorial Day. I played the Bass Drum in our Junior High School band. The highlight of the year was marching in Kalamazoo’s Memorial Day parade.

On this particular Memorial Day I had a problem. While marching, the strap that held the drum on my shoulders was slowly slipping loose; if not corrected, the drum would fall. Complicating the problem was that, unlike all the other instruments, the percussion section never stops playing; it has to provide the cadence to keep everyone in step. So I had no opportunity to stop and try to fix the strap. And since I was standing on the edge of the row I had no one on my right side and a snare drummer on my left. So there was no help beside me.

At first I chuckled thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” But the humor didn’t last long. I kept drumming but also kept trying to adjust the strap in between beats, which was no small task. It was proving to be a losing battle. I began to have visions of the drum falling, with me tripping over it as it fell, and the whole band falling apart because the cadence stopped and everyone lost the beat and thus their synchronized steps. I had to struggle to maintain the beat while becoming lost in my thoughts. I had no idea what to do. I was close to panic.

But there was one glimmer of hope. Our director always marched with the band, and would do so from various positions – sometimes moving to the edge of each row so he could check up on everyone.; but I had no way of getting his attention. Then, after what seemed like an eternity, he came to the edge of my row, on my side of the row! There he was – right next to me! He was able to fix the strap without me missing a beat. I was so glad he let himself be found!

As I now fondly recall that day, my mind goes to Psalm 46:1 – “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” I once read that “…an ever-present help in trouble” could be translated “God lets himself be found in trouble.” I like that thought. “When you’re lost, He is found.” I think of when I play ‘Hide and Seek ‘ with my grandchildren – I often hide only partially so I can be found. Or I’ll be fully hidden for a short time until I sense they’re getting frustrated, and then come partially out of hiding. I’ll let myself be found.

That’s so much like God. When we’re lost, when we’re about to lose our step, when the drumbeat of our life is about to get out of sync, when the straps that hold the source of our life in place are about to come undone – God lets Himself be found. “When you’re lost, He is found.” When tragedy strikes, when life becomes overwhelmingly challenging, and we wonder where God is – when we wonder where He’s hiding, God lets Himself be found. “When you’re lost, He is found.” When we’ve totally lost our way, or suddenly realize we’ve wandered off to other pastures and wonder how we’ll ever find our way back, then it is we need to remember “When you’re lost, He is found.” God lets Himself be found.

The truth is, God is never far away. He may, at times, remain out of our sight because He wants to develop our faith and increase our trust. But before the drum falls, before we trip and fall, before everyone and everything around us falls apart, God will come out of hiding. “When you’re lost, He is found.” God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging…The Lord Almighty is with us.”

“When you’re lost, He is found.”

You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ yet!

In the late 1800’s a little boy who lived in the country reached the age of twelve. He had never seen a circus. So when a poster went up at school announcing that the circus was coming to town, he ran home and asked, “Daddy, can I go?” The family was poor but the father knew how important this was so he said, “If you do your Saturday chores ahead of time I’ll see to it that you have the money to go.” On Saturday the chores were quickly done and the boy dressed in his Sunday best. The father gave the boy a dollar bill and cautioned him to be careful. The boy was so excited his feet barely touched the ground as he headed for the village. (1)

As he came near to the village he saw people lining up along the streets – they were preparing to watch the circus parade into town. So the boy joined the crowd and this was the grandest thing he’d ever seen. Caged animals snarled, bands played loudly, midgets performed acrobatics, and the clowns brought up the rear. As one of the clowns passed by the little boy reached into his pocket, took out his dollar bill, and handed it to the clown. With that he turned and went home. As far as he knew, he had seen all there was to see of the circus – but he had only seen the parade. Things are not always what they seem!

What do you see as you look at your life? Are you settling for only what you know, or are experiencing at the moment? Are you content with second best, ready to settle for the parade passing by? Read on. God wants you to know that no matter what you think you see – “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

Psalm 126 is a jubilant psalm in which we discover, among other truths, that God transforms despondency into expectancy and tears of sorrow into songs of joy: “he who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” The Israelites were celebrating their deliverance from Babylon; their long 400 year captivity was over. The impossible had happened – a pagan king had released them. The unbelievable had occurred – they were going home! For so long they had barely dared to hope for this moment. So when it did happen they “Were like men who dreamed. (Their) mouths were filled with laughter, and (their) tongues with songs of joy.” It felt like a dream.

Perhaps you know the feeling of “too good to be true,” of pinching yourself to make sure something is really happening. It happens to the bride who is finally walking down the aisle – to the new president at his inauguration – to the members of the team when they receive the championship trophy – to the wrongly accused prisoner when he’s freed – to the infertile couple who’ve just had a baby. It happened to the disciples when the resurrected Jesus stood before them: “…he showed them his hands and his feet! And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement…” (Lk. 24:41) It happened to Peter when the angel miraculously led him out of prison (Acts 12:29): “Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision.” It’s always like a dream when God works! But He does.

It’s just that God works in his time. And we are not in His time zone! Over time God transforms despondency into expectancy and tears of sorrow into songs of joy. So it was with these Israelites – their captivity had been great but their deliverance was even greater. They went from exile to ecstasy, from banishment to bliss. In His time, that’s always what God does for His people.

Remember Jesus talking with his disciples the night before his crucifixion? They were deeply concerned about his ‘going away.’ (John 16:19-22): “Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this,

so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, `In a little while you will see me

no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (2)

So maybe you’re tired and teary because your life is making no progress, you have all you can do to stay even – let alone get ahead; maybe your life is bearing no fruit; or you’re worried about your children; or you’re wrestling with unanswered prayers; you’re grieving those who are no longer with you. Believe this: God will work in His time; He will transform despondency into expectancy and tears of sorrow into songs of joy.

How can we be sure? Because by doing so God is honored. “Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’” As John Milton penned, “Let us with a gladsome mind, Praise the Lord, for he is kind; For his mercies aye endure, Ever faithful, ever sure.” God will turn people’s thoughts away from self to Himself. And one of the surest ways to do it is for God to transform despondency into expectancy and tears of sorrow into songs of joy – in His time. Whatever the parade you’re watching today, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

(1) http://clownalley.blogspot.com/2009/07/keith-crary-great-circus-parade-2009.html
(2) www.Storyblocks.com