Hear the music – don’t just read the notes

Bill Henning explains Nalco’s ion exchange system to high school students, circa 1965.

“Faith is reason plus revelation, and the revelation part requires one to think with the spirit as well as the mind.  You have to hear the music, not just read the notes on the page.”- Francis Collins, American physician-geneticist and atheist turned devout Christian

“Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.  Sing and make music from your heart to the lord.”- Ephesians 5:18-19 (NIV)

On August 16, 1971, Nalco Chemical Company presented William L. Henning, my dad, with a gold-tone Accutron watch for twenty-five years of faithful service.  Certainly a rainbow moment for an employee who set out on his science journey as a member of Harper High School’s Chemistry Club in 1939!

Following this honor, dad worked at Nalco for another ten years, even as the company left its Clearing (Chicago) location at 65th and Narragansett for new headquarters in Naperville.  During his thirty-five year career, dad primarily worked with ion exchange and corrosion inhibitors.  But, he never brought work issues home with him.  In fact, I knew more about his lab buddies than what he did on a daily basis.  Yet, day in and day out, Dad performed his assigned duties.  As he lived his faith in the workplace, he listened to God’s direction.  He learned to hear the music, not just read the lab notes on the page.

Dad never rocked the scientific world with a groundbreaking discovery.  Most noteworthy, though, he relied on God’s goodness and mercy to follow him throughout his workdays and family life.  As Max Lucado states in Traveling Light (2001), Psalm 23:6 (NKJV) ranks as one of the sweetest verses ever penned: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

In addition, Pastor Lucado exhorts us to look at the first word of Psalm 23:6 – surely.  Why, Max asks, did David chose that word over maybe or possibly?  Because David believed in a sure God.  A God who makes sure promises as well as provides a sure foundation.  Consequently, Max observes, David envisions a mobile and active God – a God who follows and pursues you.  A quest for the heart of humanity that began with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Therefore, Pastor Lucado suggests three ideas to help you release any lingering doubts and hear the music:

  1. Trust your faith and not your feelings.  Since your feelings never impact God’s presence, trust your faith on days when you don’t feel close to God.
  2. Measure your value through God’s eyes, not your own.  In those seasons when you feel disoriented, hard to help, or hard to love, remember that God loves you and follows you.  After all, you’re family!
  3. See the big picture, not the small.  Rather than look short-term, look long-term.  To the Father who’ll follow you all the days of your life.

Finally, Max encourages:

“And most of all, God gives us himself.  Even when we choose our hovel over his house and our trash over his grace, still he follows.  Never  forcing us.  Never leaving us.  Patiently persistent.  Faithfully present.  Using all of his power to convince us that he is who he is and that he can be trusted to lead us home.”

About the author

    Dave Henning


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