Across the Lands

music around the world

Keep Calm and Read a Psalm 118:15:

“The voice of rejoicing and salvation
Is in the tents of the righteous;
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.”

While in Africa working at a children’s home, my mission team spent a good chunk of our team in the “Guest House,” an area that housed a kitchen and living room. Each night, the team would lead devotions with the African orphans and then return to the Guest House. Er, try to return. It was quite the ordeal trying to run the gauntlet and escape the children before they jumped on you and pulled you like a fat American rubber band. I felt like we were playing American football as I tried to escape their clutches.

But with my incredible nautical techniques, I steered my vessel through the blockade and returned to the door of the Guest House—only to find the children huddled around the door, impersonating some sort of zombie apocalypse. Eventually, the whole team would gather and in a moment of intense courage, push through and pile into the house, loudly proclaiming, “Go to bed!”

The small voices outside the door would grow quiet. Finally…

Then, we would have our own team devotions. And we would always start with singing. It was a time of worship and praise, joy and hope, uplifting and reflecting. Not all team members were created equal in their musical abilities. Sometimes we messed up and sounded like dying whales inhaling popcorn through their blowhole (a true description). Oh well. We would just laugh, pass the popcorn, and start over. Those were sweet times of worship…

The next day, some of the African girls would comment that they heard us singing. Apparently, the zombies outside had not ended their invasion as we thought. The orphans pleaded with us to teach them the songs we were singing. They wanted to be a part of our happiness. They wanted to experience the enjoyment they heard from us every evening as our off-tune worship resounded out that screen door, over the rocky heights, and across Lake Victoria. No wonder my favorite song from the trip was “Across the Lands.”

The orphans were listening. The village was listening. Africa was listening.

My friend, America is listening to you. Your neighbors can hear. The person in the pew in front will notice. The driver beside you is taking note. You may think you and your family are unnoticed and unimportant in your community, but let me assure you: the people around are listening. They hear it all. See it all.

They see you get that flat tire. They hear your reaction voiced only to yourself.

They see you come home after a long day. They hear your quips to your wife.

They see the fish on the back of your car. They hear your horn as you blast your way through traffic.

The world, lost and on its way to hell, can hear you. The question is: will what they hear and see lead them closer to a saving knowledge of Christ…or drive them away in disgust?

Our verse today speaks of the “voice of rejoicing and salvation” ringing out from the “tents of the righteous.” We are the righteous. Justified. Imputed with Christ’s righteousness. But what do your neighbors hear out of your “tent of the righteous”? Singing? Praying? Or more likely, shouting? Gossiping?

Christians hold the monopoly on true joy and salvation. Are we expressing it? Are we singing, shouting, and strewing it out in our communities? What does your roommate hear from you as you work on homework? What does the person in the hotel room next door hear blaring from your TV? What do the renters below notice about the way you live your life? They should hear rejoicing. Hope. True happiness. Unashamedly ringing out from the “tents of the righteous.” Across the lands.

-Matthew W., SC


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