Day 11: Want To
Updated: Feb 24, 2021
For today's devotional I am pleased to have a guest post from my good friend, Kamala King. She is a great multi-instrumentalist and blogger who has some fascinating insights regarding Handel's Messiah that will change the way you listen to music. Check out more of her stuff at liberateddaughter.com
I recently worked with a project manager, Anthony, on a technology project that was very complicated and overwhelming. At least once a week, he’d ask how I was doing and offer encouragement in his Southern way. One week, he said, “My Mama always told me that you have to have ‘want to’. You need ‘want to’ or else you’re not going to get done what needs to be done. I can tell that you have ‘want to’. That makes a big difference in how these projects go. We’ll be fine. We’ll be fine.” I responded with, “The project has gone well because you have ‘want to’…and you’re Batman!”
When Jim asked me to write a Lent devotional based on a song from Handel’s Messiah, Anthony’s words kept coming to mind, and I realized that I haven’t had much ‘want to’ in my spiritual life. It stems from a variety of causes, none of which are justified. Add an exhausting work schedule and significant life changes on top of that and you have a perfect storm. So, why do I even want to write a Lent devotional? Because I meet God when I write and I really want to hear from him. When I thought about what to write, God said, “Write about your lostness,” and brought Isa. 53:6 to my mind:
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
What puzzled me years ago when I first started really listening to this song was why Handel put these words in a major key with bouncy, joyful vocals and instrumentation. He gets your toe tapping and head bobbing as you picture sheep frolicking in the field, wandering away from their Shepherd. Seemed odd at first, but then it hit me. Handel is picturing the ‘want to’ of the sheep. They didn’t want to stay with the Shepherd and listen to his voice. They each wanted to turn to their own way instead. Interesting that Handel keeps up the frolicking nature of the music for those words. Maybe it’s because it feels good to exert your will, to make much of yourself either in your own mind or before others. It feels good to be angry, bitter, licentious, judgmental, and right. It feels good to rebel, to think just about yourself. For a time. But where does it lead? “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (Prov. 14:12)
After several minutes of frivolity, the song suddenly changes as the rest of the verse is presented. The music is now legato and in a minor key with quarter, half and whole notes to cut the tempo in half as the solemn pronouncement of judgment is made to those who happily go their own way: “And the Lord has laid on HIM the iniquity of us all.” A stunning musical change for stunning words. Jesus didn’t just have our sins laid on Him. He also shouldered the weight of our waywardness. And because He did, His blood covers it and His resurrection power can change leper’s spots and melt hearts of stone.
On February 24th, my husband said to me, “You respond to everything with anger.” He’s not prone to hyperbole! He was right! And he’s said it before, but this time it bothered me. That’s when God spoke: “You’re problem is bigger than anger. You have gone astray and turned to your own way of managing life.” I finally saw my waywardness and it scared me. On the way to work February 25th, I prayed, “Jesus, I have no desire to follow You or live like You. I’ve been pushing through one hard thing after another without You and I’m an exhausted, angry mess. I don’t want to be like this anymore but can’t see my way out. Please resurrect me. You’re the only One who can.” I wish I could supply an ending to this story, but I’m still in the middle of it. You’ll have to check out my website for a follow up!
Ezekiel 37:1-6: “The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lordsays to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
Jesus, if I’m honest with you, I see a lack of ‘want to’ when it comes to following you. Your ways are hard, and navigating difficulties as a dependent child doesn’t appeal to me. The world’s sources of refuge allure me but never give me the rest I crave. Breathe into my dry bones. Restore my soul. Revive my spirit. Amen.