Singing In Activity

   Activity is a law of life. Life in the body continues only so long as there is activity of function. Soul rest does not imply stagnation. Rest is the result of the soul's attitude toward and relations with the spiritual, mental, and physical universe. It is its adaptation to other things that produces harmony, that prevents discord and friction.

  When the machinery of life is well oiled it is smooth running. It is not needful that we withdraw ourselves from the activities of life to shut ourselves up in a convent or cloister in order to have soul rest. We can mingle in life's activities, we can fully do our part and yet have that inner rest that brings calmness, peace, and satisfaction. These qualities are not the result of inactivity. They are not the result of death but of life and often the most active and vigorous life is the one that is most restful. Activity begets a mental attitude that naturally bursts forth into song. It produces soul vigor as it does mental and physical vigor. Vigor creates energy. Energy finds its normal expression in activity. Activity produces satisfaction and gratification. These are expressed in rejoicing.

  Lack of activity is often the source of many troubles. Lack of proper physical exercise causes the muscles to grow flabby, the various bodily functions to grow slugish, and creates a disposition toward further inactivity. It is also the cause of many diseases. It weakens the body and leaves it a prey to destroying germs. The man who does not use his mental faculties so as to keep them keen comes to the place where he does not want to think, where it is a real task for him to think, and where he will not think if he can avoid it.

  The same laws apply to the spiritual being. The less active we are in spiritual things the less inclined we are to be active. The longer we are inactive the less power to be active we have. A great many people are weak and powerless Christians because they are inactive Christians. They are unable to meet the difficulties of life and to overcome them readily because of the weakness induced by their lack of spiritual exercise. Everyone of us should be active. It is the only way to develop spiritual vigor and strength. It is the only way to be a happy, rejoicing Christian.

  Our activities, however, should be of a proper sort. There are many religious activities that are useful, helpful, and that build up and strengthen and bring out all our good qualities and develop them into Christian manhood and womanhood. There are other religious activities that produce an evil erect. That which places the body under an undue strain in any direction, that which uses up too much nervous energy, that which robs the body of its vitality, always results in hurt to the body.

  In like manner whatever religious activities injure the soul should be carefully avoided. Religious excitement, extremism, unbalanced enthusiasm, and similar things such as we see in some religious movements today, are distinctly hurtful to the soul. These have an effect upon the soul such as stimulants have upon the body. There must always be a reaction from them. That reaction is distinctly hurtful. We should see to it therefore that our religious activities are wise activities, not the result of fanaticism or extremism, not unbridled enthusiasm or animal excitement. Our activities should be sane, moderate, reasonable, and within the bounds of Christian propriety.

  There is nothing that will give zest to life like a great purpose. Too many lives merely drift. When we look back through history to the rejoicing Christians outstanding on its pages we see the truly happy people were the ones who were inspired with a consuming purpose to accomplish something. Jesus went about doing good. He was under the urge of a great love. Notwithstanding all the opposition of those who should have been his helpers he rejoiced in spirit. Jesus was devoted to an ideal. That ideal was to uplift and save men. In the strength of that ideal he never faltered.

  You and I need such an ideal in our lives. We, too, need the urge of a great love, a love for humanity. There are a multitude of opportunities around us for activities in doing good. The heart of the world is longing for a word of love and comfort, for kindly deeds, for helpfulness and mercy. What are we doing to supply this need? How much of devotion have we in our lives? Let us note the devotion of Paul. He poured himself out to people, not only in his own nation, but to strangers, to those who had no natural claim upon him. He counted not his life dear unto himself that he might accomplish the great purpose that inspired him. It was his activity, ceaseless, and self-forgetful, that enable him to be exceeding joyful in all his tribulations. It was that very activity that made him joyful.

  Drifting always becomes monotonous. We may enjoy it for a time, but if we want really to enjoy ourselves we must "get our backs into it." There is a great difference between being weary as a result of labor and the feeling of weariness that comes from idleness. When I was growing up I lived in the country. Sunday was usually a weary day. I longed for its passing that I might get to work again, not because I cared so much for work but because mere idleness and inactivity could give no satisfaction to my youthful spirit. When one is weary from labor he can rest and enjoy resting. When one is weary from idleness rest has no charms.

  Many weary Christians are weary from idleness. They let the days pass and perhaps use but a few moments, if any time at all, for spiritual development or exercise. They know there are unsaved people all around them, but they do nothing about it. They know there are sick to be visited, but they do not visit them. They find a convenient excuse for their idleness just as every physical idler can find.

  They know there are sorrowing hearts that need comforting and the poor that need ministering to. There are scores of opportunities all about them, but they are not using them. Then they wonder why they do not make more spiritual progress, why their life is not more blessed. They wonder why they have so many trials and difficulties to meet and why they seem to have no spiritual energy.

  They need not wonder. They know very well that should they do the same physically as they are doing spiritually, what results would be. Why then should they be in doubt as to the cause of their spiritual state? So many say, "Oh, if I had more joy in my Christian life!" We may as well say, "Why do not we have more to eat on our tables?" when we refuse to spend money to buy it.

  We can sing the joyous song of the reapers if we are a reaper. We can rejoice in accomplishments if we accomplish something. But accomplishment means definite activity, properly directed. A great many people are very active in religious work, or what they suppose to be religious work, which is really not religious work. What do the things we do amount to from a spiritual standpoint ? We could dispense with some things and be very little the losers, and in many instances gain much.

  Real religious activities are activities that use the spiritual, not the mere physical faculties and powers. They are things we get our hearts, our souls, into from a spiritual angle. Real spiritual activity is entering into the needs in a helpful way, comforting those who need comfort, ministering to the poor and the needy, applying balm to wounded spirits, encouraging the discouraged, helping wherever help is needed. These are spiritual activities that will start the song of joy in our own soul.

  When we throw light upon the darkened pathway of a fellow traveler that light is reflected upon our own pathway. When we minister to others we are ministered to. When we bring joy to them joy comes to our own hearts. But the trivialities with which so many religious people occupy themselves can never bring real soul satisfaction.

  Another thing to note is that it is not the greatness of our labors but their purpose, the earnestness that we put into them and the quality of our own desires that make them worth while in results. It is not the greatness of what we do but the spirit we put into the doing. We may never have opportunities such as some others have; we may never have a place of importance or authority. This need not in the least hinder us from being as active as those who have more responsibilities and seemingly more or greater opportunities. If we make the most of our opportunities whatever they are we shall be happy. It is not how great the vessel but how much of ourselves that we put into it. It is not how great the opportunity but how greatly we rise to it. It is not so much what others think of what we do or how great it may appear in their eyes; it is how much unselfish devotion we put into the doing of it.

  Devotion to a worthwhile cause always has abundant reward. Here is the secret of the singing heart. If you will learn this secret and put it into practice you may have a heart that naturally breaks forth into song from the inward pressure of joy as the safety valve of a boiler blows off every now and then under the pressure of the steam. The pressure of the steam depends upon the fire; so the heat and energy of devotion and love in our souls may be fervent enough to produce constantly recurring and overflowing songs.

  Some in their imagination picture heaven as a place of rest. They think we shall sit around and play on golden harps or leisurely stroll over golden streets. That is not my idea of heaven. I believe the law of life in heaven will be the same as it is upon earth, that is, that activity of a constructive kind will be necessary to happiness. I do not know what heaven is like. No doubt it is inexpressibly glorious, but my faculties are so limited in this world, my activities so bound up by restrictions and limitations of the body, that my soul longs for the opportunity for greater expansion of its powers.

  There are boundless possibilities for development in every human being. There will be opportunities for this development in the world to come. That development will mean activity, not useless activity, but productive activity. It has been written of that world, "His servants shall serve him." The golden harps will sound and the singers will sing in heaven, not because they are resting, not because they have nothing else to do, but because they are giving expression to those joys that have come from their heavenly activities. After all, the harps and the singing, the golden streets, the gates of pearls, are only figures. They stand for spiritual realities that mean far more than are expressed in these feeble figures. We shall rest from our labors of this world not in inactivity but in action. Very often in this life the best sort of rest is activity of a different sort. Let us remember that whether in earth or heaven, the song of joy is born of activity.