beware the loudest songs

January 14, 2013


(image credit)

Asher is enthralled with song lyrics. Trouble is, he quite often hears the singer belting out something other than what they’re actually saying. He’s only five, so of course this makes sense. And who among us has never mis-heard song lyrics?

You know the song Voices Carry? From the 80’s? When I was a kid, I thought Til Tuesday was singing a soft, ominous, This is scaaary.

Yesterday Asher questioned some of the lyrics only he heard. WHY is he saying that?

He’s not, Sweetie.

Yes. He says, (whatever he thought Adam Levine was singing but wasn’t, I can’t remember) !!!

No, honey. He’s not saying that. It just kind of sounds like that. 

Yes, he is. 

Well of course he thinks so. That’s how he heard it, from his five-year-old perspective, the way it would make the most sense to him. This made me think of how we all do this. How we shape things to suit our situation or our perspectives, opinions or beliefs. So much of the time we have no idea we’ve done that.

I wouldn’t want to be a pastor or a seminary professor or somesuchthing because of this. It’s quite a risky business, making statements like, God says…or, This is what it means when the Bible says (fill in the blank)…

I was just leafing through some notes I’ve tucked away from all different experiences in the church. I like to write things down during church. When I was younger, I took most of it as Truth without much thought of my own. Then I realized my beliefs can’t really be all that genuine, if  I wasn’t thinking about what God means to me, this personal relationship everyone kept talking about. What was God doing all around me and you and you?

I started to realize this song lyric phenomenon thing is happening a lot in churches. You can especially see it during election years and after tragedies or an increase in some kind of media coverage over immoral behavior–more murders, more affairs, more drugs…Suddenly, the scripture used in the sermon was speaking to that specific issue all along. But in a few years, the same verses will be reported from the same pulpit to have meant something else all along, depending on the current affairs of the people walking around the earth screwing up.

(This is not to say that every pastor or teacher does this always and forever and it isn’t to say that they do it intentionally. They’re only human, too.)

There’s one really loud and long Christian song, I’ve noticed. A rising voice over the treetops and our triumphs and failures. God has been singing it since the beginning of anything and it has all kinds of parts. Three part harmony, so many verses, stanzas…pages and pages filled with notes and none of us can hear it clearly because there’s so much other noise, especially coming from inside our very own hearts and minds.

But the song is beautiful and some of us hear grace and love in that song, yes, maybe to a fault, but I don’t get to know that right now, because no matter how hard I strive for perfection, I remain human.

Then some of us pick up the Bible and pull God’s wrath from the Old Testament to the New and then despite a new covenant, it just feels better to have something rigid to hold to, something black and white and seemingly obvious. Consequences. Some kind of ladder to climb.

Yes, that’s what He’s saying! 

Sometimes defiant like a five-year-old, sometimes simply sure but more careful about it.

Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems the defiant ones are those we should maybe steer clear of, because this should scare us, right? Can humility and that much confidence in one’s own understanding of things exist in the same place?

Sometimes I wish every pastor or leader of any kind was a recovering addict. That’s not to say that we addicts have risen above in wisdom or have some kind of special humility that no one else can have. It’s to say that we know that we haven’t and we don’t and won’t. When you admit how powerless you are over drugs or alcohol or whatever has control over your life, I mean really surrender, you find that this Higher Power business is a stream of mercy and you can’t understand how you could be sober even one day after all you’ve seen and done and swallowed.

You suddenly come to know that you are both God image and tiny, at once. Both. You see that your thinking has not gotten you to the best places and that if you are to continue to see God or faith or life or people through the lens of your personal experience or rigid opinions or stubborn pride, you are choosing a life as tiny as you are. But, and this is a big but…if you’re able to see it all as the stream, ever-moving and shifting and shaping rocks and pulling us along and you start to ride it….you get to relax. You are free and God is so much bigger. You aren’t so afraid, standing on soap boxes with angry shouting just to be right.

Just look up and hear it. It is so much more than you thought. That’s how it was for me, and how it continues to be revealed to me as I shut off my jaded opinions, what I think I know because I heard it when I was five and the lyrics became an ear bug, playing over and over through all the years, but alas…a word here, a section there…from above the trees and in the quiet I hear it…

Oh God, that’s not even what you were saying. Oh God…

and I have to smile because of how BIG it all is…and it was only hard to understand because of me.  

I can only tell my own story, I can’t instruct. I’m just Heather. I write on a blog.  I don’t know everything, not even close. And the things I think I know might not be right and one day I’ll find out and then I’ll move on. So what I’m saying is that we all only have this very moment. This day. We know what we know for today and we are what we are. We cannot make ourselves more, that’s just too dangerous. We have to surrender what comes out of our mouths as much as I need to surrender daily to a God who helps keep me sober. 

I don’t envy the leader, the pastor, the instructor, taking their stabs at a message they have to report is from God. Even on the very best day, clear skies, clear eyes, right hearts…it’s difficult to get all the lyrics right with such a song as this.

And I will steer clear of the leader, the pastor, the instructor who seems to have no idea the song is playing not only inside, but outside, of himself.

{This is my response to the embarrassing and consistent arguments online and off among Christians. Who has the corner on theology? Who is getting it Right? Who is damned to hell for getting It wrong? If you see and hear arrogant, defiant and reactionary responses full of scripture, I hope you can still hear The Song. Funny thing is, God’s song is often the quiet one.}

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterPin it on PinterestShare via emailSubmit to StumbleUpon