Have you ever read the scripture that says “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart, yea the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads”?
Well, this verse (Doctrine and Covenants 25:12) is one of my favorites because, as many of you know, music is a major part of my life. It’s something that has influenced me on so many levels throughout every stage of my life, and it’s something that I hold very dear to my heart. Because of this, I can honestly say that I have received many, many blessings “upon [my head]” through music. Today was just another one of those days.
I was asked to play a special musical number during sacrament meeting today. I absolutely LOVE to share my talent with others because it’s the one thing where I never have any doubt that I’m feeling the Spirit, the love of God, and the guidance, comfort and peace I need. Which brings me to another scripture in just a minute. While most people are terrified to speak in front of people, I’m almost equally terrified to perform in front of people. That’s kind of ironic, for those who know how often I do perform. So here’s my explanation of why I do something that pretty well scares me: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). “Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear” (Moroni 8:16).
First: I love Heavenly Father more than anything or anyone else. I would do anything I can to show Him that. And for me, that includes sharing a talent I have been so greatly blessed with. Do you know the parable in the New Testament about the three servants who were given talents? One was given one talent, one was given two, and the last was given five. When the lord returned, he asked to see their talents. The ones who had been given two or five talents presented their master with double the amount they had received from him. His reply to them was: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21). However, the last one who had been given just one talent returned to his master with the same talent. He was afraid that he would lose what precious gift his lord had given him, but (probably) much to his surprise, his master was not, in fact pleased. “Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” I don’t know about you, but I would much rather not be called a wicked and slothful servant. I want to show the Lord how much I love Him by multiplying the talents I’ve been given.
Second, because I know Heavenly Father and all that is in His power to accomplish, I do not fear man more than God. As long as I’m doing something the Lord would have me do, I know that the strength I have to do it is not my own. As long as I have the Spirit with me, I know that I am doing the Lord’s will and I know that I can do it boldly and without fear. One of my favorite talks was given by Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Quorum of the Seventy in October 2014. It’s called “Which Way Do You Face?” and discusses the differences between fearing man more than God versus loving the Lord and always facing Him. Here’s a few sections from this talk because I can’t say it any better than Elder Robbins:
“When people try to save face with men, they can unwittingly lose face with God. While it certainly takes courage to face perils, the true badge of courage is overcoming the fear of men. Courage is not just one of the cardinal virtues, but as C. S. Lewis observed: “Courage is … the form of every virtue at the testing point. … Pilate was merciful till it became risky.” King Herod was sorrowful at the request to behead John the Baptist but wanted to please “them which sat with him at meat” (Matthew 14:9). King Noah was ready to free Abinadi until peer pressure from his wicked priests caused him to waver (see Mosiah 17:11–12). King Saul disobeyed the word of the Lord by keeping the spoils of war because he “feared the people, and obeyed their voice” (1 Samuel 15:24). To appease rebellious Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai, Aaron crafted a golden calf, forgetting which way he faced (see Exodus 32). Many of the New Testament chief rulers “believed on [the Lord]; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42–43). The scriptures are full of such examples… The Savior, our great Exemplar, always faced His Father. He loved and served His fellowmen but said, “I receive not honour from men” (John 5:41). He wanted those He taught to follow Him, but He did not court their favor. When He performed an act of charity, such as healing the sick, the gift often came with the request to “tell no man” (Matthew 8:4; Mark 7:36; Luke 5:14; 8:56). In part, this was to avoid the very fame which followed Him in spite of His efforts to eschew it (see Matthew 4:24). He condemned the Pharisees for doing good works only to be seen of men (see Matthew 6:5). The Savior, the only perfect being who ever lived, was the most fearless. In His life, He was confronted by scores of accusers but never yielded to their finger of scorn. He is the only person who never once forgot which way He faced: “I do always those things that please [the Father]” (John 8:29; emphasis added), and “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30).”
Now I know this isn’t exactly focusing on performing a piece of music, but let me show you how it relates. Performing on an instrument can be compared to how we perform in our lives. If we fear the opinion of man and worry how many people will notice our mistakes, we’re bound to do a lot worse than we would prefer. It seems to me that the more we’re focused on ourselves, the more mistakes we make. On the other hand, the more we turn our hearts to the Lord and remember that our purpose does not revolve around who has the best car, house or clothes, but it revolves around where your heart truly is. Are you constantly looking to serve others and bring happiness to your home and wherever you go? Or are you more worried about impressing your boss, your friends or even your family?
There are times where our performance isn’t quite what we were hoping for. We might be caught off-guard by unforeseen events and circumstances. We might not enjoy who we’re with. Whatever the case, sometimes, we aren’t doing our best, and unfortunately (or fortunately?) people see us at our worst! But it really doesn’t have to be the end of the world. We can’t let what other people think of us consume our lives otherwise we will never progress anywhere and we won’t come close to becoming all that we have the potential to become. The last little bit of the passage I shared from Elder Robbins spoke about Christ’s example. How many scriptures have you read that say something along the lines of “Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:27). “Be ye therefore perfect, even as (I or) your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48; 3 Nephi 12:48).”
Not only is following Christ’s example something that has been commanded of us by God, it is something that will truly bless our lives and show us who we really are – Children of God. We have the ability, the opportunity, the great blessing and miracle of becoming like our Omniscient, Omnipresent and Omnipotent Father in Heaven. He loves us each so dearly. Better yet, He knows us perfectly, and STILL He loves us unconditionally and without fail. Who doesn’t want to be like that?
So. “The song of the righteous is a prayer unto me.” I believe that can be taken both literally and figuratively. Music can bring the Spirit so strongly. It brings comfort, peace, joy, serenity, love, happiness and the list goes on of things that come from God. Those are things that inspire us to be better, to do more good. Alma 5:26 says “And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” If you have experienced a change of heart, a touch of the Spirit, of God’s love and mercy and forgiveness, then you have probably felt so much joy or peace and happiness that all you’ve wanted to do is sing your thanks, resolve to always follow your Savior, and share what you’ve discovered with everyone you know. THAT, my friends, is the song of redeeming love. THAT is the song of the righteous and it is truly something that your Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are extremely aware of.
I know that mistakes, hardships, bad times, and your worst are things that happen. It’s life and we’re human. But that doesn’t mean that you are a terrible person and can never be made clean and whole again. It doesn’t mean the end of the world or that everyone and everything on the planet hates you. It simply means that you are living and learning and growing. ESPECIALLY if you are happy through it all. Christ is your Savior. He is right beside you every step of the way. You need only to sing the song that is in your heart. Perform with all your heart and soul, with everything you’re made of. Remember who and what is most important every day. Happiness and joy is possible in every day, but only if you let it be through your actions and reactions. I know this because I know my Savior and I have my hand firmly clasped in His. And I’m loving every note of this song that my heart is singing because of it.