I Know A Song

“If I know a song of Africa,
of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back,
of the plow in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers…
Does Africa know a song of me?

Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on?
Or will the children invent a game in which my name is?
Or the will full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me?
Or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?”

It is an interesting question that Isak Dinesen asks herself, as she leaves her coffee farm in Africa, a life of freedom and discovery, and of hardship and ruin. That strange, harsh land of wideness and warmth had permeated her, like coffee grounds- deep and rich, staining all her memories. She could smell Africa. She could sing Africa. But what of her? For all that she had left of herself there – a depleted estate, a failed marriage, the death of her great love, Denys Finch Hatton – would Africa remember her?

I have often remembered that haunting line of her poem – “does Africa know of song of me?”

What will be our song, you and I? What is the hint or shadow that we will leave behind, when we are gone? What is the song we are singing now, that others will hum, and remember us? I think of these things.

Not long ago I attended a concert. The lead singer of the band closed the entire night with another man’s song. The original composer had tragically died 19 years earlier in a car accident, but people still sing his song! What is it that will make others sing our song? In what ways will our life today impact others long after we are gone?

Maybe it is vain to think these things. Maybe it is our human instinct for immortality. Or maybe there is a song in there that needs to get out, or carry on? Not just any song – but a deeply meaningful and true and lovely and pure melody in our being that needs to be sung – one to another, and to our children and to our children’s children. What is beautiful enough to keep singing it from one generation to the next?

One hint we can glean comes in the Book of Revelation, where song upon song peals forth in the final establishment of God’s kingdom and glory. There, we find all the victorious, and the angels, and every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, … singing! And what is that song that is so beautiful that it will be sung into eternity?

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise.”
(Rev. 5:9-14)

So I ask myself? Am I making Jesus my song? Do the words in my life reflect him? Is redemption the key refrain of my life? In what ways can I honor him – even in the ups and the downs? How can I praise him in the midst of laughter and tears? One offering at a time, I think. Giving each small event or moment of our lives to God – praising and honoring him for the obvious and the not so obvious. This is our humble sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Soli Deo Gloria-to the glory of God alone. This would make our melody very sweet, indeed.

If we sing like this, I believe we will discover the mystery that the Singer of Songs, King David, knew: that God inhabits the praises of his people. (Psalm 22:3 KJV) The more we praise him, the more we experience his living, discernible presence in our lives. It is His presence that becomes the beautiful, pure, song our heart wants to sing. That is the song that we cannot hold back, or contain. That is the song we hear in our hearts, that is bursting out. That is the song that others will want to sing when we are gone.

And if they do not – if they can no longer remember the shadow we cast or the color of our eyes, or the way our laugh lines framed our face – we are not disheartened. We sing the Song today. It is our strength. It is more than enough.

“The Lord is our strength and our song”
Exodus 15:2

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