Sing to the Lord a new song!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord! Bless his name!
Share the news of his saving work every single day!
Declare God’s glory among the nations;
declare his wondrous works among all people
because the Lord is great and so worthy of praise.
He is awesome beyond all other gods
because all the gods of the nations are just idols,
but it is the Lord who created heaven!
Greatness and grandeur are in front of him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Writers block is the absolute worst thing that humans have come up with. There is no more mortifying experience than sitting down with a blank piece of paper or screen and trying to come up with something new to fill the space. Unless you are a writer, or an artist of some kind, it’s really hard to explain what this feels like. It’s frustrating, and depressing, and fills you with anger, and makes your skin feel all itchy for some reason. It’s absolutely the worst.
For years, I have been in bands and have made part of my living by writing and singing music. I started writing songs when I was in high school (many of which I hope to never hear again in my life they were so bad), and really started to get in to it towards the end of college. I love sitting down with a guitar and making songs break forth. It’s beautiful!
And yet for the last 2 or 3 years, there’s been…nothing. Every once and a while I sit down to write something, and maybe make a little bit of progress, but then lose steam and it dies out. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m not in a “band” right now, just doing some stuff on my own. Maybe it’s the fact that I have two toddler time suckers living in my house right now, and I don’t really have the ability to sit with a guitar as much as I used to. Or maybe I just have a really extended period of writers block. Whatever the case may be, I’m coming up empty.
And in those times when I’m thinking about it, the Psalm above haunts me like a ghost. Those lines about singing to the Lord a new song seem like they are tailor made for me. The Psalm might as well open with “Well, get on that J!” I feel that kind of pressure to live in to the skills that God has given me.
And yet, this isn’t all about singing is it? What the psalmist wants us to sing in these lines is the greatness of what God has done. What love God has shown the world is a story worth telling. What God is up to is something that everyone needs to hear about. I get the feeling that while some of us may be able to do this with song, that isn’t the only way to go about telling of God’s glory, is it? We can declare God’s goodness by the way we treat our neighbors. We can declare God’s faithful love by the way we honor our families and loved ones. We can even, if push comes to shove, declare God’s goodness by just telling people about God, no matter how much that might scare Presbyterians like me.
Maybe new songs has less to do with notes and lyrics on a page and more to do with the kind of life we’re living. I have long believed that life is a bit like a song. It has its ups, and its downs, its verses and refrains, its dynamics and its own tempo. Maybe we need to sit a bit and wonder what kind of song it is we’re singing. Are we singing the kind of song that celebrates our accomplishments and abilities, or are we singing about what God is doing in the world? Are we singing the song of hatred and violence, or are we singing God’s song of love and inclusion and acceptance? Are we singing the song of tired old politics, or are we singing the Anthem of the Kingdom? Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for a new song.
And while I’ve been writing this, my guitar has been staring back at me longingly. Maybe it’s time to sing some new songs.