Listening To The Blues

I?ve noticed a pattern in my heart recently. At the end of the day, after work or preaching or even a day off filled with recreation, I find myself beginning to get just a touch ?blue? ? not a word you?ll find in your Bible, I know, but a good description. This isn?t depression or deep discouragement or hopelessness, but just a barely-present feeling of low-grade dissatisfaction with something, if I could just put my finger on it. It?s easier to describe it by what I notice is lacking: a zeal and an excitement to approach another day in God?s world. Instead, I?ve been feeling just a touch ?ho-hum.? Until this morning.

This morning the Lord spoke to me through the first two verses in Psalm 111. ?Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.? The phrase ?with my whole heart? grabbed me. I had begun my devotions asking the Lord to show me what was going on in my heart. I knew I needed help ?listening to the blues? – in other words, actually interpreting what this ?stuff? going on in my heart meant. When I read that verse I realized that, once again, my heart has been given over to other things recently ? good things, but things other than God Himself. And yet those good things can?t truly bring me life ? hence the blueness.

The more I thought about it and prayed, the more I realized how important ?listening to the blues? is for my soul. This isn?t an isolated experience for me, but something of a cycle. I begin to find my energy and zest for life not in the Lord, but in the things I do for the Lord: pastoring, preaching, studying, talking with people; or my personal pursuits:? hobbies, books, etc. The problem is none of those can really give life ? only the Lord can! And when they become my functional reason for living, no matter how subtle a shift that might be, they are bound to disappoint and leave me dissatisfied. If I just live with that dissatisfaction without listening to what it?s telling me, the ?blues? become like a low grade, untreated fever that never goes away.

So what?s the solution? Repent of hewing out cisterns that can?t hold water and come back to the God who is the fountain of living waters (Jer. 2:13)! This morning I was able to do that, and found my joy and life beginning to return. Will my day change outwardly all that much? Probably not. But inwardly, I?ve been reminded yet again that Jesus alone can provide abundant life. When my heart is inclined towards Him, everything else finds its proper meaning and place. When it?s leaning elsewhere for satisfaction, nothing can give my day meaning and purpose.

So do you know how to listen to the blues? Do you know how to listen to the music of your soul and trace the subtle trail of your heart?s affections? It?s not complicated. Whatever we find life, energy, and meaning from is what has our heart?s affections. Listening to the blues will tell you where those affections are set. The good news is that God is not out to squelch our affections or desires, but to be the fountain of living water that animates every other part of our life. Listen to your blues. Then listen to the One who offers life satisfaction at no cost:

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price? (Isaiah 55:1).

My wife Anna, son Elliot, and I live in the little town of Franklin, WV. I'm a pastor. I have a degree in wildlife biology, which is useful for pastoring (actually, no). I like books, nature photography, working out, and being with my family. In a previous life I was William Wallace.