When The Music Stops

When The Music Stops May 20, 2021


I have a headache that feels pretty high on the Richter scale, if I may put it that way. It’s not loud like an earthquake, but it feels as though an earthquake may be taking place inside my head, neck, and jaw. 

It is during these times that “the music stops.” When life has to take a rest, whether that rest is wanted or not wanted. I have always believed these times of forced rest to take place under the hand of a sovereign God. That doesn’t mean I like or enjoy them, it simply means that when God said that His own would “share in His sufferings”, He meant it. And He meant it when He said that those sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us. Therefore, it is not wasted time, but necessary time that will one day seem as light as it is, in light of eternity. 

But, since I do have a cranial earthquake taking place, and since that should amount to a time of rest, I will simply type out for you what Elisabeth Elliot, who knew her fair share of suffering in this world, said about the times in our lives When The Music Stops: 

There are sometimes spaces in our lives that seem empty and silent. Things grind to a halt for one reason or another. Not long ago, in the space of a few days, the “music” in my life seemed to stop because of a rejection, a loss, and what seemed to me at the time a monumental failure. I was feeling rather desolate when I came across a paragraph written more than a hundred years ago by the artist John Ruskin: 

There is no music in a rest, but there is the making of music in it. In our whole life-melody, the music is broken off here and there by “rests,” and we foolishly think we have come to the end of time. God sends a time of forced leisure — sickness, disappointed plans, frustrated efforts — and makes us a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives and we lament that our voices must be silent, and our part missing in the music which ever goes up to the ear of the Creator. How does the musician read the rest? See him beat time with unvarying count and catch up the next note true and steady, as if no breaking place had come between. Not without design does God write the music of our lives. But be it ours to learn the time and not be dismayed at the “rests.” They are not to be slurred over, nor to be omitted, not to destroy the melody, not to change the keynote. If we look up, God Himself will beat time for us. With the eye on Him we shall strike the next note full and clear. 

So the Lord brought to me precisely the word I needed at the moment: There was “the making of music” in what seemed a low emptiness. It’s His song, not mine, that I’m here to sing. It’s His will, not mine, that I’m here to do. Let me focus my vision unwaveringly on Him who alone knows the complete score, “and in the night his song shall be with me” (Ps. 42:8 KJV). 

The following was given to me many years ago by my dear aunt Anne Howard. I wish I knew the author: 

Help me to live this day quietly, easily; 

To lean upon Thy great strength trust fully, restfully;

To meet others peacefully, joyously;

To face tomorrow confidently, courageously. 

If you are in an unwanted, unexpected time of rest, I hope these words bring comfort to you. There is so much in life we cannot control. It’s an art learning what we should control (obedience) and what we should leave to the Lord (surrender). I firmly believe that the toilet I was going to clean tonight is better left for another day. I am not being disobedient by not cleaning it. I’m simply recognizing that the Great Musician has declared this day to be a day of rest. 

Maybe tomorrow, I can “catch up the next note true and steady, as if no breaking place had come between.” And maybe tomorrow, “with my eye on Him, perhaps I shall strike the next note full and clear.” 


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