Every great song has a simple melody or line called the “hook.” The best hooks are memorable and bring a laugh or stir a memory through a clever phrase or rhyme. Whether praise songs or pop songs, my favorites don’t necessarily follow a formula, but each has a strong hook that communicates some emotion I can relate to.

We all have a songwriter somewhere inside us, which is part of what makes live music so thrilling. When we sing or sway with others at church or at a concert, in some ineffable way we share an understanding with those around us.

This inclination toward song comes from God. When I am paying attention, I notice that God often works like a master songwriter, highlighting themes in my life through a good hook that he keeps repeating. Most often I see it when reading his Word. But I can also notice a recurring theme at random—on a street sign or when I cross paths with a stranger at a coffee shop.

I’ve become more familiar with God’s melodic messages as often, over a few days or a week, I see the repetition of a Scripture verse. I might read a word in a devotional and then hear it the same day from a friend. For me, these refrains often turn into song ideas.

God sings over us in our everyday lives, reminding us that his light still breaks in, “the true light that gives light to everyone” (John 1:1–18). He didn’t just wind up his creation and let go; he is intimately concerned and present with us.

When we’re listening, we’ll find answers to our prayerful questions that will help define what matters to us. Should we adjust our work schedules to accommodate family dinner? Should we volunteer in politics for the upcoming election? Should we go on a mission trip? The answers to these questions aren’t written in the Bible, but when we ponder God’s truth in his Word, he sings over us a chorus of grace, shaping how we live and who we are.

God knows how to get our attention through a memorable thought or encouraging word, and he writes with a songwriter’s touch. Consider the poetic composition of John 1: “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (vv. 3–4, NKJV).

In times of heartbreak or triumph, God speaks to us personally. I’ve started looking for the Spirit’s prompts, these musical hooks, to help make sense of stories as they unfold—even and especially when our experiences or news feeds don’t make sense. “Are you here in this with us, Lord?” we pray.

He has answered my doubts, for instance, with John Newton’s hymn “Amazing Grace.” The song was originally called “Faith’s Review and Expectation,” and when that title comes to mind, it directs me to notice God’s faithfulness in times of uncertainty and to share that assurance with others.

Psalm 90 has also been a corrective and a consolation for me: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (v. 12). This phrase counsels me to accept my limits and receive God’s provision for my time and energy in every change of season.

God’s hooks may change over time and may come from unexpected places. I remember standing in a convenience store one afternoon, in a difficult season of life, hearing Fleetwood Mac’s iconic ballad “Landslide” on the radio. I was reminded that in all the changes of our lives, even when things fall apart, God is ever the same. On that day, in that moment through tears, I felt seen by a personal, compassionate God.

God’s songs might arrive as a few words that seep into your mind: a borrowed lyric, something you see while taking a walk. Or the song he is singing over you might even arrive in a moment of quiet, like a well-placed musical pause. “Silence is praise to you,” The Message version of Psalm 65:1 reminds us.

The point is, God’s playlist is everywhere, because God wants to abide with us everywhere—his grace and truth breaking into all our big and ordinary moments.

Sandra McCracken is a singer-songwriter living in Nashville. She is also the host of The Slow Work podcast produced by CT.

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Pending Resolution
Pending Resolution is an exploration of the tensions of living between God's promises offered and his promises fulfilled, looking to Scripture for guidance.
Sandra McCracken
Sandra McCracken is a singer-songwriter who lives in Nashville. She also hosts the CT podcast Slow Work and the new video-based Bible study Exploring the Psalms. Follow her on Twitter @Sandramccracken.
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