Lay all your love on Me

A few days ago I was having problems with my music system. I thought I’d fixed it and wanted some music to test it so I looked through the index of music by artist and the first in the list was ABBA.

We first started listening to ABBA when we lived in Germany in 1979 and travelled a lot to Denmark and even ABBA’s own native country, Sweden. We didn’t buy many albums, contenting ourselves with a “Best of …” album and a couple of others. However one we did buy and really enjoy was Super Trouper and this was the one I selected for my test. But I didn’t start at the beginning; for some reason I started with the penultimate track, “Lay All Your Love On Me”.

I love this music and especially the way this song becomes a kind of chorale at the end, repeating these words:

Don’t go wasting your emotion
Lay all your love on me
Don’t go sharing your devotion
Lay all your love on me

As I listened to them repeating over and over, they seemed to me to be an appeal from God Himself.

Of course, my brain intervened and I wanted to understand if this could be right!

Yes, we are told to love God with all our heart etc. but what about loving our neighbours too? Then I remembered something I’d posted almost one year ago: A barrel of love. In that post I recalled a speaker saying that God wanted to fill him to overflowing with His love so that it spilled out from the top of the barrel – over everyone in reach! We are not supposed to try and love our neighbours out of our own love, but out of the overflow of God’s love pouring into us! Now it made sense. If we “lay all our love” on Him, He’ll give us even more back and we will overflow with love for our neighbours in the messiest, best way possible!

This chorale speaks of two aspects of love: emotion and devotion. No doubt ABBA chose these because they needed a rhyme, but of course they also make sense. And for our relationship with God they make sense too.

On the one hand there is emotion – our praise and worship so well illustrated for me by many of the songs of Brooke Fraser-Ligertwood, Amanda Cooke and Steffany Gretzinger, to name but a few. They speak there being “no one else for me, none but Jesus” and of being lost in wonder. Older hymns capture this too and I’ve written about both in the past. (See Lost in Wonder.) This is the way we give our emotional hearts to Him.

And devotion is the way we give our lives to Him. Paul writes in Romans that we are to give our bodies as living sacrifices, which is true (acceptable) worship. This is devotion.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
Romans 12:1

So this simple chorale seems to me to capture two of the most important elements of our faith.

One last thing. The song was written by ABBA, and I’ve just realised that this is the respectful, yet familiar, name we can use to address God the Father.

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:15

How like Him and, may I say, His sense of humour to use a Swedish pop group to write these words in His name!

So I leave you with the chorale.

Please hear it as an appeal not from ABBA but from your Abba, to lay all your love on Him.

Pay attention to your tears

I read it again this morning: pay attention to your tears. It may seem a strange idea and it’s not clear at first why we need to do that so let me try to explain.

I first heard it from Lou Engle. It was in May 2015 at a conference in the Netherlands called Mission Possible. Lou’s a great speaker and although I’ve only heard him a couple of times I’ve learned something each time. When he speaks he moves back and forth. He says it energises him. We just say, “Lou rocks!” And he does – in both senses! So when he speaks you can expect to hear something important somewhere along the line.

On this occasion – as I remember it – one thing he said was, “Pay attention to your tears, for they will lead you to your destiny.” (I’ve tried to confirm the wording of what Lou said as, amazingly, I didn’t write it down at the time, so I’m quoting from memory. I could only find a post from August 2015 by Lance Wallnau who quotes Lou as saying, “Pay close attention to your tears. What you weep over has to do with your destiny.” Maybe this makes even more sense than what I remember.)

Pay attention to your tears, for they will lead you to your destiny.

It was during that conference that we were asked to pray for our cities. Since I live in Brussels, I tried to pray for Brussels but was not really inspired. So I turned my attention to Nagoya, the city where my wife and I are now living for six months, and immediately the tears and the inspiration came. We already knew we were going to spend some time here and this was another confirmation. My tears were pointing to my destiny.

I find that there are times when I begin to read something or relate something or pray something and, for no obvious reason, I choke up and may even begin to weep. I believe this is a sign of the Holy Spirit’s strong presence. He is confirming what I am saying, highlighting the passage I’m reading, or perhaps it’s about my destiny.

And so I’ve begun to pay attention to my tears.

At the beginning of November 2016, we spent over 4 hours at the Nagoya Regional Immigration Bureau and emerged with our tourist visas extended until the end of February 2017. Chiara, one of our daughters, asked me online what God had told us about staying longer (than six months) in Nagoya. I replied something to the effect that that my heart was for Nagoya, went back to bed (it was 5am or so) and told Olwen what I’d written. As I did so, I began to sob quietly and uncontrollably. I didn’t know why or what emotion was involved at first, but soon realised that God was sharing an infinitesimally small part of His infinite heart for Nagoya with me.

So it’s not that Nagoya has my heart, but rather that Jesus has my heart and is sharing a bit of His with me. And since He has done that, He has a purpose for us here that goes beyond these six months, and this is how He is communicating it.

My tears are pointing to my destiny. It’s here in Nagoya. I’m sure of it!

Not all tears are about destiny, but some are, so we are wise to pay attention, don’t you think?

Oasis 21 at night

Oasis 21 (Nagoya) at night