It’s not often that you hear loud, exuberant singing anywhere these days outside of football grounds. Our workplace was privileged to have a group of young Zulu warriors perform a routine of songs and dances.
It was all very energetic. The dances were done to the beat of a single drum and it brought to mind the old Tarzan films, or that golden oldie of a series “Daktari”. It was very atmospheric, even in the confines of a modern hall with bleacher seating. There was nothing sedate about the dances – lots of stamping, shaking spears and shields and scary chants.
In between the dances, they sang some wonderful gospel hymns. One young lady sang a solo “His Eye is on the Sparrow”. It was far better than anything that the X-Factor auditions have come out with. Her voice – she hit every note crystal clear!
The song lyrics are amazing anyway, but when you know that the person singing them has every reason to curse God rather than praise Him, the effect is even more uplifting. The young people come from Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa. HIV and Aids are serious problems, dragging families into poverty - no running water, no electricity, no health services and no employment opportunities. It makes you wonder where God is in all of that.
The chorus of the song has the lines “I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free”. Hearing the young lady sing those words, so powerfully, really spoke to me. I had been thinking about singing earlier on in the week. I had been reading Psalm 125, a psalm of ascent. The idea of actually singing while ascending a hill or mountain genearally doesn’t occur to me – I’m too busy trying to breath. The idea of singing while climbing a metaphorical mountain, times of sorrow and hardship, doesn't always occur to me either – I’m too busy wiping away tears!
So, yes, the whole singing thing! In church, lately, I have not participated as vocally as I used to. Partly, it’s the nature of some of the songs – although they might express what I feel, the tunes are a little challenging – moving octaves and stuff.
“I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free”.
I am free, but I don’t always live like I’m free.
I don’t have any visible shackles or chains, but I allow other people to bind me with invisible ones by the way I seek their approval, and mould my life to meet their expectations. I sometimes allow difficult circumstances to tie me up. My freedom has been hard won. It is something to be treasured, not casually or carelessly bartered away.
It’s time to start living like I’m free.