Everyone lives forever – we just have to choose where
– John Elefante (former lead vocalist for Kansas)
A friend texted me, asking if I would write a short reflection for his FaceBook page. He gave no guidelines, and this is what came out. Not typical material for this space, but it is Sunday so I thought I would share it anyway.
For the first time in more than two decades I am listening to music for pleasure. I had forgotten how much fun it can be.
Most people take music for granted, something to enjoy. Or as background that fills the spaces of the day. For me, spending a good chunk of my life as a radio programmer, music has usually meant work.
That means listening to a song with different ears. It is not about whether I like it or not, but how will others hear it? Does it have a catchy chorus? Does it drag at any point? How will it sound the hundredth time someone hears it? The thousandth?
My taste in music is eclectic, which is the kiss of death for radio. Everything played is supposed to fit into a rigid station format. I used to tell musicians promoting a new song that the worst thing they could hear from me was that I liked it. That meant it didn’t fit the format and wouldn’t get airplay, at least not on the stations I programmed.
I spent a lot of my week listening to new music. There was so much of it I rarely had the opportunity to listen to something not work-related.
That is behind me now, as I have transitioned out of radio, at least for the time being. Which has freed up time to listen to whatever I want.
Recently I have been following musical rabbit trails around the internet, discovering newer music from artists I have not listened to in years. I have also been rediscovering some classics, music from the time I first discovered that Jesus and rock and roll can indeed mix.
Roaming through the vast amounts of music available online, I never know where I will wind up next. One minute it may be bluegrass, the next heavy metal. The common denominator is the inspiration behind the songs and the faith of the players.
I was going to list names, but those really are not important. It is the message that resonates with me. Sometimes a new convert will express something musically that allows me to see God with fresh eyes. Then someone who grew up in the church will re-state timeless truths in a way that touches my soul. Either way, I am spiritually refreshed.
Music is a way to express our faith and the creativity God has given to us. It was one of the first human activities.
In Genesis 4 we read: His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes. Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. Our musical creativity is so ingrained in our being that, apparently, musical instruments were invented before we learned how to make proper tools. Jubal must have used rock and bone to shape his instruments.
In Job 38 we are reminded that when God created the world, the morning stars sang together. C.S. Lewis paints a similar picture in his classic novel The Magician’s Nephew, as the God figure, the great lion, Aslan, sings the land of Narnia into existence. I literature and life, God is the root of creativity (and beauty).
As creatures made in God’s image, all of us have the capacity to appreciate music. I for one am thankful for that.
There’s still one thing that you can do
Fall down on your knees and pray
I know the Lord is gonna answer you
Don’t wait for tomorrow, do it today
– Eric Clapton