And A Caged Bird Sings: A Challenge For Daily Worship


I love music: listening, performing, writing. I sing and whistle and hum throughout my day: at work, in my local Coffee Bean, in the shower, in traffic on the 405. I've been in school orchestras, worship bands, and even a musical. But truthfully, I find it the easiest and most satisfying when I sing with the people I love. I love singing rock songs with my family. I love singing with my friends in our cars or at karaoke. I love worshipping with my brothers and sisters at revivals, mission trips, and Sunday services. Why? Because our songs process and translate our experiences and feelings, into points of connection that goes beyond words. Music sounds the sweetest when I share it with a person who understands what I've been through, why I'm singing this particular song. If I love you, there is a good chance that we have sung a song together.

In the same way, at least in my experience, singing to the Lord has always been the easiest way to communicate with him. In fact, my relationship with God really began right before senior year, in a small Oaxacan church service. As the congregation sang in Spanish, though I couldn't understand a word, I could feel their love for a God I had only heard about in the past. The music inspired me to desire the same joy. I too wanted to see and feel the same beauty and wonder. It opened my heart to listen for the Holy Spirit. In response, I danced and sang and laughed.

From then, into my late 20s, my walk with God has gone from Chicagoland to the fog of gap years into the storms of dental school. And now, I am beginning a new season. And I still sing. 

I will sing to the Lord because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:6)

I think for David, there was no one else he would rather sing to other than the Lord who walked with him since the shepherding fields. David sang and danced and wrote psalm after psalm for the Love of his life. David dealt with his fear, anger, confusion, and sin with lamentations and melodies of pain. He celebrated and worshiped his God with anthems and cheerful hymns. For every emotion, for every event, David sang it back to the Lord. Living his life for the Lord, David displayed his heart through poetry and chords. And in doing so, he cultivated and boasted one of the most intimate relationships with the Holy Spirit in history. He sang to God because he was so comfortable and intimate with God.

To be honest, the greatest obstacle I've faced in singing songs to God has been the easy excuse of being too busy or too discouraged. As a dental resident, it's really easy to pretend I'm too busy for Jesus, that I'm too busy for the God who has been so loyal and so good to me, my family, and my friends. When there is illness or problems at work or disagreements with a friend, it's so convenient to tell God that I don't feel like singing or reading a Psalm today. Too tired. Too discouraged. Too burnt out. Too busy. 

But I sing to God, not because my life is good, but because He is good. I sing to the Lord because the Lord has been, and always will be, a real, loyal friend and lover. Even before I met Him, God has dealt bountifully, plentifully, graciously with me. We should worship Him because I want to know Jesus on the level that David did. We should worship to remember how good He has been to us. We should worship to confess that we want to grow more dependent on the Holy Spirit. 

I am convicted today that our lives would be more Christ-centered if we would sing to Jesus more regularly. I feel challenged to transform my present experiences into honest, spiritual songs full of pain, to rejoicing. In my commute, in the late nights in the lab, at the gym, I want to inject praise and worship that reflect how I feel. I really believe that our day-to-day lives can be realistically and truly transcendent as we incorporate more daily worship. By singing with Jesus, we will get to know him to a deeper, sweeter degree.

I would like to share a verse I wrote two years ago. During the time I wanted to quit dental school, times of struggling with fear, and disappointments, writing songs and poems like this helped me to process my thoughts and turn to God. Doing so, gave me the strength to keep me going to the finish line. Let us sing!

What it must feel to be a caged bird -

To let out a chirp but you're so sure you ain’t heard…

So you attempt to connect with a friend or a neighbor

To explain, in so many words, why today hurts

I too sing a melody, even in a flat key -

Then these bars become bars that rub against my spread wings

Though the tune stings bitterly through these clenched beaks

The song tastes so sweet, a Georgian peach


Though the bluetooth's off, the signal don’t reach

Some friends tweet back sentiments a little bit weak

It’s all good, so grateful that I can still speak 

And a song brims through the dirt, birthed of adversity


Thank God: you're here. Even in the dark, you still see

Your voice not in the storm or fire, but the whispered peaks

One thing I ask, one thing I shall seek:

To know you in your temple, to sing to you eternally

Daniel Lee (@danielslee1991) is currently a resident at UCLA School of Dentistry. He loves what-if scenarios, short stories, one-on-one conversations, crown preps, and people who feel free to be themselves. He openly dreams of becoming the first dentist, minister, rapper, and comedian combo for Jesus.

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