The Slumbering Chord

Is there a song that, whenever you hear it, awakens a slumbering chord in your heart? For me it is “Trouble in the Amen Corner.” (If you are not familiar with it, you may listen to it on this link: https://youtu.be/1urlF0DH5AY.)

“Trouble in the Amen Corner” stirs my heartstrings for Steve. He was my third brother.

. . . the one who was born premature at seven months. My mother said he was so fragile she was afraid to touch him.

. . . the one who had a stroke when he was three. Johns Hopkins Hospital discharged him with a permanent limp and limited use of his left arm.

. . . the one who had surgery for testicular cancer when he was fourteen. Radiation treatments for lung cancer when he was a high school senior. That was the year the doctor gave him six months to live.

. . . the one who wanted to be a state trooper but got jobs whenever and wherever he could. Once he was a night watchman. Another time he was a stock clerk. When his supervisor’s boss saw him, he told her to get rid of Steve. “But he’s my best worker,” she protested. It didn’t matter; he was an insurance risk.

. . . the one who volunteered to teach backyard Bible lessons for a children’s ministry. He got good feedback. When he asked for a paid position, he was told he had not taken Bible courses. Solely supporting himself, he left Baltimore, Maryland, to attend a Bible college in Calgary, Canada. Holding those credentials, he returned to Baltimore. Without explanation, the organization would not hire him.

. . . the one who sang in the adult choir at the church where he grew up. He had answered the invitation for any church member to join it. That did not count when the choir was preparing a special concert and so-called important people who belonged to something somewhere else would be attending. The music minister asked my brother Steve not to sing.

“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.”
(1 Peter 4:17 KJV)

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Reversals

He was good enough for them when they were growing up together. But when property and money counted, his half-brothers thrust him out of the family. Zero inheritance.

What had he done wrong? That one thing: He had been born of a prostitute.

And how was that his fault? He didn’t ask to be born. He had had nothing to do with the conditions that brought about his birth.

Nevertheless, the day came when he was again good enough for them. Actually, more than good enough. All because of what he had become in the interim.

Driven from his homeland and forced to fend for himself, he had weathered into a seasoned warrior. Now the outcast was the one person everybody back in Gilead wanted. So the tribal leaders made the trip to Tob and met with Jephthah.

In dire straits, they begged him to come back and command his homeland’s army. War was at their doorstep.

Jephthah, determined not to be discarded a second time, gave the distressed delegation his terms. If he defeated the invaders, they would make him the ruling head of his native country.

No problem. “The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, ‘The Lord is witness between us; surely we will do as you have said’” (Judges 11:10 NASB).

As had happened to Gideon in the past and would happen to Samson in the future, “the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah” (Judges 11:29 NASB). Energized with supernatural strength, Jephthah was victorious on the battlefield.

And thus it came about that “Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead” (Judges 12:7 NASB).

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.
(Psalm 139:13-16 MSG)

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