You know when a song gets stuck in your head – but in a good way, the mood and words buoying you up along your way? I love that there are many religious songs I’ve learned in my life that come to mind, reassuring me even in extremely hard moments.
There’s a song by The Child’s Sisters called “One Heart.” It opens with “Oh Lord, we are gathered” and often when I’m tired or uncertain but trying to keep moving just the tone of that opening line comes to mind and is a wonderful prayerful reminder.
There’s a song called “Cares Chorus” that starts “I cast all my cares upon You. I lay all of my burden down at your feet.“ This one is even pretty directly a biblical passage, but having its beautiful tune brings those words to mind in a more complex, deep, and reassuring way than the words on their own.
The last while I’ve been thinking about capacity. How much I can hold. How much I can do. How much I can give. How much I have. And what those capacities mean: if I’ve got space for a lot more but am running on empty; if I’m full and overflowing – past capacity; if I have more to give but don’t know where it can go; or when something is uncomfortable how can I build my capacity to go through it without overflowing. (There’s a great book by Francis Weller called The Wild Edge of Sorrow that was really useful in my thinking about this).
One of the Bible songs that comes up most often for me because of these ponderings is called “Let the Love Flow” by John Odhner (it’s a part of the Songs from the Word collection by John and Lori).
Let The Love Flow By John Odhner
“A woman cried to Elisha, ‘My husband now is dead. The creditor is coming to make my sons his slaves, And I have nothing in my house but one small jar of oil.’ Elisha said, ‘Go borrow pots from everyone one around, And let the oil flow! Let the oil flow! From a small beginning, let the oil flow! Find an empty jar! Bring an empty bowl! Find an empty pot, And from a small beginning, let the oil flow!’
When all your dreams are broken, and all your hope has died, When shame and fear enslave you and take away your joy, When all the love that’s left in you won’t last another day, Then find someone who needs you and give your love away, And let the love flow! Let the love flow! From a small beginning, let the love Flow! Find an empty life! Bring a broken heart! Find an empty soul, And from a small beginning, Let the love flow!”
When I read the story I love the care for and saving of the widow and her sons. I care about them and am grateful for their miracle. But often reading the words doesn’t make me FEEL this story in my life. But the song brings it a fullness of meaning for me.
During a part of the COVID lockdown I homeschooled my four kids. We were isolated and stressed – along with most of the world. One of the things I loved doing though was learning worship songs with the kids. “Let the Love Flow” is one of the songs we learned as we read through 2 Kings. And I remember singing this with my kids and weeping as I sat in the midst of them feeling so insufficient and so incapable of making it through another day getting so overwhelmed and angry as I simultaneously desperately (though rarely cheerfully if I’m honest) tried to make them feel loved. I was empty, but this song reminded me that that was okay – I could be empty because the Lord always has more. Maybe I couldn’t figure out how to love my kids even as they were rude to me – but God could love them, and would share that resource with me if I could work to let it flow through me.
This song has come to mind so many times since that day. The flow of the music, the beautiful crisscrossing harmony, and the musical build to the joyful reminder to let the love flow all build me up on my days when I’m empty. And singing this song is such a powerful embodiment of the feeling that if I can find the way through to asking the Lord and getting out of the way, there is always a ready surplus of love that I can pass along. I’m so grateful for the religious music I know that helps me feel and hear the Lord’s messages in many different ways.