Music has always been a part of my life.
Being a fan of all kinds of music, having grown up in the Church of Christ where acapella singing is the norm, taken my share of piano lessons, being a competitive shower vocalist, and being married to a music teacher, it’s fair to say music has touched almost every aspect of my life. What’s more is that I believe in the power of music. To quote my wife, who quotes Bono, “Music can change the world because it can change people.” Music is one of the many reasons I have a faith in spiritual realities.
I listen to music when I’m at work, when I go for a drive, when I spend time with teenagers in my youth group, when I’m with family & friends, and even while I work out. I’m not a runner. At 6 ft and 220 lbs, I’m a slow jogger at best. But one of the things I’ve noticed during any run that I attempt is that I have to have music. If I get all geared up to go for a run but can’t find my headphones, I’m likely not to go. Music not only can help me stick to a manageable pace, but it distracts me. Listening to that perfect song helps drown out my feet pounding on the pavement and the sound of my heavy breath. It makes me forget about my aching muscles and beads of sweat running down my face. For a short while, that perfect song can take my to another place where I can enjoy being outside, feeling the breeze around me, and I feel truly in the moment. I get lost in the music.
What makes that song the perfect song? Usually it has the appropriate number of beats per minute that syncs with my slow jogging pace and my heavy breathing. It’s usually a positive song with upbeat lyrics (doesn’t always need to have lyrics though). It also has to be at just the right volume… 11!
We can be very picky with our music. Have you ever listened to a song for the first time and didn’t care for it or didn’t think much of it? Perhaps you heard it playing softly in the background at a coffee shop and was slightly annoyed by it. Maybe you even heard it on the radio or heard someone listening to it and thought, “That song isn’t really for me.” Have you ever listened to that same song in your car and for some reason… when it was turned up loud enough and you were in a different state of mind, it just clicks and the song is actually really good? Or maybe you’re in a public space and that song is turned up and you see others getting into the song and you’re surprised to find yourself getting lost in the beat? It’s incredible to me that sometimes you have to turn up a song loud enough, let it flood your senses, before you can actually get lost in it and fully enjoy and appreciate it.
I think that this phenomena has applications for our faith as well. I’ll be the first to say I’m guilty of letting my faith play softly in the background of whatever is going on in my life. My faith is a familiar tune, but it’s one that I get tired of sometimes. But then I think about different church camps I’ve been to, the mission trips I was fortunate enough to go on, the small group Bible study conversations that resonated with me, the discussion with my closest Christian friends that lasted well into the night, the anonymous service project, the singing and sharing around a campfire, the countless experiences where I actually turned down everything else and turned up my faith on full blast. Those are the moments where I really lose myself in my faith song. It’s in those moments when I forget about some of the pains of ministry, forget the messages of a lost world start to be drowned out, and my own sinful nature briefly gives way to the pure joy of living faithfully to the fullest.
We don’t allow our faith to be turned up to “11” enough. We try to be so busy and “productive” to the point that we allow other songs to distract us from our faith song. What in our life should be louder than our faith song? What is our faith song? It’s not just the music we hear when God’s will for our lives is so clear. It’s also the music God hears when we live out our faith. To be fully immersed in this faith song we can’t just listen to it… We have to sing it!
This makes me think of one of my favorite songs in Psalm 95. In my humble opinion, David never used enough exclamation points…
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.