The Bells Rang and the Fat Lady Sang

I was out for a long walk with Walter (my 110# Rottie/Shepherd) the other day and as I ascended up the hills in Palos Verdes I heard below me the bells of a distant church carillon ringing. What a sweet sound in such a perfect setting, looking out over the azure blue of the Pacific touched by a cloudless sapphire sky, it was a beautiful picture of God’s creation. 

Rancho Palos Verdes.jpg

But then I realized what the church bells were playing, “Tomorrow” from the musical “Annie”. Yes, you know the song about how the sun will come out even … “when I’m stuck with a day that gray and lonely …”

So that phrase, “it ain’t over until the fat lady sings" came to mind because when I heard that carillon I also  heard the fat lady sing.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Broadway Musicals and this song, in particular, is a pretty catchy tune. But what does this song have to do with the sacred purpose of the Church? There are a thousand hymns that would more exquisitely convey the message of Christ through music than that! And then I thought, who in that church would think that song is an appropriate representation of their church? How did they wander so far from the message of the gospel?

I was in a Bible study with some estranged Episcopalians where we had a disagreement as to why their church had strayed so far from the Lord. They said it was because there was an over-emphasis upon the love of God. That is because they saw all sorts of heresy justified by saying they were demonstrating, “the inclusive love of God.” But I said, it went back further than that. We cannot love as God loves if we don’t know God. And we will never know God until we are united with God, and we will only be united with God when we are redeemed by God. In other words, we need transformation in order to act in a way that is consistent with God’s heart and according to his will.

Long before good theology is abandoned there an abandonment of God in our hearts.

These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught
— Isaiah 29:13 NIV

This lack of personal connection with God is at the core of all our waywardness.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing
— John 15:5 NIV

It is a common misconception that when Christians wonder from the faith it is due to some false belief or sinful action, but in reality, it always comes back to the same core issue. We separate ourselves from the life-giving vine and cease to bear the Spirit’s fruit. It is a matter of the heart, not the head because Christ also said that he would give us the Spirit and, “he would guide us into all truth.”

So where did this church below me go so wrong that they would be playing humanistic platitudes from their spire? I need look no farther than my own heart for that answer. Every time I find myself far from the truth it is because I have in some way forsaken my first love for something else that I thought would bring me more pleasure or preserve my sense of self.

The fat lady sings when we wonder from union with God and can no longer determine his truth. This is a terrible state that has infected our church like cancer.

Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the one I love
— Robert Robinson 

The solution? Pure and simple repentance. We need to fall on our face before our Lord every day and confess our propensity to find our life someplace other than God.

Lord, I confess that I am prone to look for life apart from you. I don’t want to admit that I am in desperate need of you, not only for my salvation but for every area of my life. Life in you defines me and being independent of you is a denial of who you are. I come to you now to be renewed and restored in every area that I have wandered from your presence. I willing die to self so that I can be raised up to be what I was created to be; to bring you glory in all that I do, say and think. I ask for your abiding Spirit to be fully at home in my life and to guide me into all truth.  Amen