I was in a conversation with a friend this week. I asked my friend, “If your life is a song, what verse are you on at this point of your life?”
My friend said, “I’m probably on the third verse.”
Then explained, “The first verse usually gives the overall concept of the song’s meaning. The second verse will give more meaning, makes it more personal, and the last verse pretty much wraps it all up.”
“The third verse,” I said, intrigued. “Huh.”
And then a thought popped into my head. In the denomination I belonged to growing up, we didn’t have worship leaders, we had “song leaders” or “music directors”.
Invariably – perhaps because they were trained at the same music schools? – each would have the audience – sorry, congregation – stand at different intervals, these usually being the opening two hymns (that’s with a ‘ymn’ for the young crowd – these were lines of songs with strange symbols above and below) and the song right after announcements, then once more after the offering. Then lastly, during the invitation. This could last as long as the sermon, only ending when someone finally came forward.
As though it were a canonized statement, each song leader would announce the ‘standing’ hymn with the words, “Please rise and sing the first, second, and last stanzas (not verses) of song number 362 in your hymnals (hardback books containing numbered hymns)…”
Never the third verse. That one got skipped.
Who knows why?
Back to my friend: I was hearing that they were at an unsung, forgotten season of their life. What their life was saying was just not important enough for others to notice. Though they had a lot to offer, they just weren’t getting their just due.
At least that’s what I heard.
It’s been my joy to preach a mini-series at my home fellowship on “endurance” these three weeks. It came as no surprise that the passage God gave me is the scripture that got me through my nine weeks of hospitalization, three surgeries, two separate trips to ICU, and coding on my hospital bed. Through everything, God supplied my own third verse
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.
That’s what Hebrews has to say: stand fast, hold your ground, and progress pilgrim, because going back is not worth it. What is worth everything is when your life sings the lyric that was written just for you, that no one else knows, but needs to learn.
So no one sings your verse? You sing it, beloved. Lean back, tip your chin and just belt it out. It’s your story, it’s your song. It’s about praising your Savior all the day long! Make your verse the one the conductor modulates on. Even if it’s in the minor key, that’s okay, because it can raise the hair on the back of people’s necks like you wouldn’t believe!
Fannie Crosby, blinded in infancy by a quack, used her third verse to sing the message of her life: “If I had a choice, I would still choose to remain blind … for when I die; the first face I will ever see will be the face of my blessed Saviour.” All she did was write 8000 songs and a lot of third verses.
Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blest.
Watching and waiting, looking above -
Filled with His goodness…lost in His love!
A woman I know well has been a quadriplegic since 1967. Her own ‘third verse’ is: “God’s greatest miracle to me has been His sustaining power in my life.” Amen, Joni.
Yeah, we’re not gonna skip verse three. It has a LOT to say and just as much to offer. That’s what I think Hebrews 10:36 is supposed to be: the missing verse that puts it ALL together, giving better perspective to this beautiful, hard, fulfilling and frustrating thing we call discipleship.
It’s beautiful music indeed.