DRIFTING!

During the last eight days we have prayed often for the two teenagers who were off the coast of Florida when their boat capsized. The news media showed their pictures repeatedly as search and rescue efforts were detailed.  The Coast Guard and family searched tirelessly for the boys but to no avail. The boat was found drifting miles away from where they were last seen, but there was no sign of the boys.

I am sure I am not the only one who thought of the horror and fear that these young men likely felt when they realized that they were drifting farther from shore, farther from their families, farther from safety, with no way to change their path.

These thoughts reminded me of a song I often heard as a young child when my father sang in a men’s quartet at church. Drifting Down. The song depicts where we are in our natural sinful state without the Lord … far from shore, drifting from the heavenly Father’s loving care. Daddy is with the Lord now, and I am long past being a “young child”, but I still hear that song in my memory’s tape recording!

Ocean waves and rock formations, Oregon coast
Ocean waves and rock formations, Oregon coast

Drifting Down was written by Jessie Brown Pounds and composed by W. E. M. Hackleman, in 1898. The words to the first verse and chorus are these:

You are drifting far from shore, leaning on an idle oar, you are drifting, slowly drifting, drifting down; you are drifting with the tide, to the ocean wild and wide, you are drifting, slowly drifting, drifting down.

Ocean with far distant shore
Ocean with far distant shore

Chorus:

You are drifting down, drifting down (You are drifting, slowly drifting, you are slowly drifting down); to the dark and awful sea; you are drifting down (You are drifting, slowly drifting,). From a Father’s loving care, to the blackness of despair, you are drifting, slowly drifting, drifting down. [Obtained from: http://www.freehymnal.com/lyrics/drifting-down/, accessed March 8, 2013] (Emphasis mine)

Atlantic Ocean Waves
Atlantic Ocean Waves

The definition of “drifting” includes the concept of being carried along by currents of air or water; moving unhurriedly and smoothly; moving leisurely without purpose; to wander from a set course. [http://www.thefreedictionary.com/drifting, accessed May 9, 2013] In other words, when you are drifting slowly, there is the implication that you are not struggling; you are not working to correct the situation; you are drifting. No concern, no recognition of imminent peril. The shore is becoming less and less apparent, the voices are more and more distant as you just drift away!             

What a dramatic contrast there is between the message of the old-time hymn Drifting Down and another age old hymn How Firm a Foundation. Beloved by millions of people through the ages, this hymn eloquently describes the foundation that Jesus Christ provides. I have not included all the verses here, but the words are taken from Isaiah 43:1-7 and, in its entirety, the hymn describes the foundation for the believer from birth through death.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! What more can He say than to you He hath said, To you, who to Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health; In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth; At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea, As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,  I will not, I will not desert to its foes;  That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,  I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

[Words: From A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors, by John Rippon, 1787; hymn attributed variously to John Keene, Kirkham, and John Keith]

In short, the hymn writer encompasses every condition of our life. Sickness, poverty, sorrow, deep waters, fiery trials, old age stating that in all cases Jesus Christ will be with His children. The hymn ending, “I’ll never, no never, no never forsake” is the complete counterpoint to Drifting Down.

Which song depicts my life? Your life? Are you drifting down, going away from the Father’s love and security or are you leaning on Jesus as your Savior?

Anchor
Anchor

Are you afloat without an anchor or are you confident in His saving Grace?

Certainly, there may be times that even the most secure in Christ feel that they are drifting. But, the remedy is not to lay hopeless in the drift away from Him: the remedy is to turn and cling to the anchor, His cross, where you will find restoration and forgiveness with the secure anchor holding you steady even as you endure the storm.

We must continue to pray for the families who are still searching for their sons off the coast of Florida and we must give thanks for those who so diligently conducted the search for the young boys all last week.  Pray that the Lord will be near to these families and rescue personnel and that His comfort and peace will overwhelm them during this time.

Further, let us also praise the Lord for the security and salvation He provides, that He is the answer to the drift that so many experience in their lives, and may we live always ready to explain how to obtain that security to those who may inquire.

A CHIME IN THE DARK NIGHT

We are fortunate to live in a city that has an incredible symphony orchestra and, as a result, we have ready access to classical concerts, pop concerts, chamber music concerts, etc.  Last year we had tickets to the classical concert series.  I love to listen to the orchestra in a live performance – it is a real treat.  But I don’t know what to expect just from reading the advertisement for the concert.

We arrived at the theatre and found that the program was three selections, all written in the 1800s by persons of whom I had no knowledge, given my relatively insufficient knowledge of composers and their works. The concert was in late October so the selections had a Halloween theme.

The first selection was A Night on Bald Mountain written by Modest Mussorgsky, a Russian born composer who was born in 1839.  The work is based on a Russian legend describing the witches who go to Bald Mountain the night before the feast of St. John the Baptist.  While there, Satan comes and it becomes a night of passion and frenzy.

A Halloween Costumed Devil
A Halloween Costumed Devil

(The picture is not from the concert but, rather, is a Halloween costume one of my grandchildren wore a number of years ago.)

The program notes included an explanation, written by the composer himself, detailing what to expect in the performance.

So far as my memory doesn’t deceive me, the witches used to gather on this mountain, gossip, play tricks and await their chief – Satan.  On his arrival, they, i.e., the witches, formed a circle around the throne on which he sat, in the form of a kid, and sang his praise.  When Satan was worked up into sufficient passion by the witches’ praises, he gave the command for the Sabbath, in which he chose for himself the witches who caught his fancy.  – So this is what I’ve done.  At the head of my score I’ve put its contents.

  1. Assembly of the witches, their talk and gossip.
  2. Satan’s journey
  3. Obscene praise of Satan and
  4. Sabbath.

If the work is performed, I wish this program to appear on the bills for the enlightenment of the audience.

[From the Program Notes by Ken Meltzer, The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra program for the concert on October 17, 2014 entitled Symphonie Fantastique, Sameer Patel, Conductor.]

The orchestral work ranged from fluid and enticing to frenetic and frenzied.  The entire orchestra was involved; violins, woodwinds, two harps, brass, and of course there was, my personal favorite, percussion!  What struck me, however, was that just before the end of the piece, chimes were struck, clear and sharp.  The chimes pierced the frenzy of the scene and peace came in their wake.

The program noted that “At the height of the Sabbath, a distant church bell sounds.  The spirits disappear, and A Night on Bald Mountain concludes with the arrival of dawn, and the return of peace.

Sunrise at Sea
Sunrise at Sea

I have attached this link to a YouTube post by The Wicked North which is a performance of part of A Night on Bald Mountain, this clip coming at the height of the Sabbath toward the end of the piece.  The YouTube clip is a little over 9 minutes long, but at 7:20 on the clip you will hear the change in the music following the ringing of the chimes.

As I applauded the skill and talent of our orchestra in its rendition of A Night on Bald Mountain, I thought of the symbolism in the music.  It was a beautiful reminder that our Lord is supreme.

We need to be reminded of this as, in our own country, innocent people have been killed, just in the past month, as they prayed in a Charleston, South Carolina church, they did their assigned duties at the Marine and Navy centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and they watched a comedic movie at a theatre in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Clearly, Satan has his way in the world [Ephesians 2:2], but we know that the ultimate victory belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:55-56:

“Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” [ESV]

Oh that we would live our lives hearing the bell’s chime through the din of the world’s clamor.

Oh, that we would live our lives in a manner that we would be like a bell chiming out the love that the Lord gives us for this fallen world.

Oh, that when people meet us, they would see Jesus.