Joy From A Caged Bird

“Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion” (Psalm 9:11, NKJV).
My mother had a hard life. What little joy she experienced came from her children and ... her canaries. I remember after finding the right one we’d rush home and carefully place our feathered prize in its new home. Then we’d wait. And when we heard those first trills, rolls and warbling notes burst forth, we clapped with joy. This tiny, soft, yellow creature captured our hearts like a soprano’s cadenza does for an audience. Through this small canary, God brought happiness to my mother, and once again she smiled.
The melodies that renewed my mother’s spirit are like the ones our Lord waits to hear from us, too. The problem is we’ve allowed our circumstances to dictate the direction the knob that turns up our vocal cords to go to the “off” side. True, it’s hard to rejoice with unpaid bills, wayward children, an illness, or an abusive situation. Our futile attempts to praise God are drowned out by life’s disappointments. But these same problems that keep us silent, drove my mother to the little bird of song.
She knew the canary isn’t free to roam, living in a gold or silver wire cage just large enough to jump from one narrow perch to another. And the thin, metal structure might hang in a hot, stuffy kitchen where a cat roams below, waiting for the opportune moment to snag a tasty meal. But standing tall on its wooden perch, not looking at the wires or the threat below, the canary holds its head high, raises its feathered chest, to sing its rich, melodious songs.
Nothing mentioned in scripture says life must be in perfect harmony to make a joyful noise. Nor does it say we will ‘feel’ like singing every step of our journey. Life is not simple. And it can overwhelm and confine us like a caged canary. But the Lord isn’t looking for an opera star. The praises sung off ‘key’ are as beautiful as those sung in perfect pitch.
Mother learned by not focusing on life’s humdrum circumstances, but on the possibilities God placed around us, we can find something to sing about: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – mediate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Gradually, like God’s little creation showed us, by raising our voices to Him, and concentrating on anything praiseworthy, our burdens will miraculously lighten and we can, “Make a joyful shout to the Lord; Coming before His presence with singing” (Psalm 100: 1-2, NKJV).
And for those ‘moms,’ or ‘roll models,’ who taught us how to sing through the passages of life, “God, we sing Your praises. Amen.”