Friday, September 3, 2010

Apt Accompaniment to Work

Treasured friend,

I’ve often noticed that the quality of my work (often the quantity, too) is enhanced by what I’m hearing while I’m at work. For example, when I write, I listen to instrumental praise, jazz, blues or symphonic music—with tunes I recognize, but few words to distract me.

Then there is the music I save for tasks I hate—scrubbing the bathroom, vacuuming, dusting, anything that requires the wafting fragrance of bleach, detergents or ammonia. For those moments when I can’t procrastinate those tasks any longer, I have a selection of music on my MP3 player and a station on my Pandora favorites, both of which feature music to clean by. It’s all upbeat, energetic, pulsing and thrumming; and it moves me right along with it. It’s music that makes me smile. It engages my attention so that, instead of grumbling about what I have to do, I’m swinging and bopping and (forgive me for saying it) even dancing to it.

The same goes for my three-times-weekly workout. If I hate cleaning, well, there’s no word in the English language strong enough to describe how I feel about sweating. But the music DVDs on our workout room TV (including Michael W. Smith’s Worship) so capture my attention, that I nearly (I did say nearly) forget about the drudgery of pacing mile after mile on the black rubber belt of the treadmill, “passing” the same scenery. Doing what’s good for me, what’s expedient, is easier because of music.

I hadn’t realized it until today, but as I was reading 2 Chronicles 34 in preparation for a writing project (related to the upcoming release of my new software package, The Julie-Allyson Ieron Bible Reference Collection on WORDsearch 9), I came across a passage that makes my practice of matching music to my daily tasks positively biblical.

The setting is that King Josiah has collected money to repair God’s house, after it had been defiled and profaned by a string of godless kings who preceded him. (The “it” in the passage, is this money earmarked for the repairs):

Then they entrusted it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the LORD's temple. These men paid the workers who repaired and restored the temple. They also gave money to the carpenters and builders to purchase dressed stone, and timber for joists and beams for the buildings that the kings of Judah had allowed to fall into ruin. The men did the work faithfully. Over them to direct them were Jahath and Obadiah, Levites descended from Merari, and Zechariah and Meshullam, descended from Kohath. The Levites--all who were skilled in playing musical instruments-- had charge of the laborers and supervised all the workers from job to job (2 Chronicles 34:10-13a, NIV).
The passage connects the faithful work (other translations add the concept of working with integrity)¸ with the leadership offered by skilled musicians. Music to work by. To hoist joists and beams; to dress the stones, to polish the door knobs, whatever needed to be done. These folks composed and played music appropriate to the tasks. God gifted them with music to accompany the work.

I suppose that translates well to the difficult tasks related to caregiving. Dispensing meds. Cleaning up messes. Bathing wounds. Holding someone’s hand while softly humming away the pain. This music probably won’t be the boisterous tune I dance my way through as I vacuum. It may be a soothing instrumental, passionate blues, or—perhaps best of all—inspiring worship that leads us to lift our eyes, minds, and hearts to the Creator and Sustainer, Who offers us the hope that this aging process, this physical pain or deterioration, isn’t all there is. There is a reality clouded for us now, but it’s more real than anything that touches us here—and it’s more lasting than anything we see or hear or feel in this realm. It’s a world with no more tears, no more pain, no more sorrow, no more good-byes at all. A place of all joy, health, companionship, and “hellos.” A place of endless music to make work fulfilling and energized.

Even if it’s music heard only by you, in the privacy of your own heart, I encourage you to sing to the Lord today—from a worshipping heart, as you go about your caregiving tasks. I promise it’ll help you do your work with faithfulness, energy—even God-pleasing integrity—as it did for the workers in God’s house during Josiah’s reign.

My prayer for you is a song in your heart all day long.

Blessings and prayers, Julie

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