Friday, November 21, 2014

Songs of My Story



I love getting truth in books or in sermons, but there is something especially meaningful to me about getting truth in songs.  I believe our response to God should involve our whole being—not just our mind understanding and affirming, but our emotions participating.  Nothing helps me with that more powerfully than songs.

Somehow a song is a way of bringing truth into life, of saying, “This is not only true, but I believe it, right here and now, even in this.”  With a book or a sermon, I can be passive, listening, holding something at arm’s length, accepting or rejecting, but with songs, I’m invited to join in and sing along and really make the truth my own.

Songs become especially meaningful when they become a part of my story—when in some season of life, a particular song becomes the cry of my heart, and whenever I hear it afterward, it reminds me of how I struggled and of how God was faithful at a particular point in time.  I love hearing from others how songs have become part of their stories as well.

Casting Crown’s “Praise You In This Storm” became my heart cry when for three months I waited for the resolution of a difficult situation I could not control.  On difficult days, my mind would get stuck on repeat just on the first few lines:

“I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day….”

I could hardly move past those lines because each day, I was sure that God would have come through for me by that time, but He hadn’t, and I was still waiting and crying without answers.  That song gave me words of lament and helped strengthen my faith.

During the same season, I really liked Chris Tomlin’s “I Lift My Hands.”  The line “I lift my hands to believe again” became my way of confessing, “My faith has faltered.  In moments of difficulty I didn’t really believe this.  Now I’m affirming again that I do.”

At a time when I felt falsely accused, one of my favorite songs was also by Chris Tomlin, “Whom Shall I Fear.”

“I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side….”

Maybe I like songs so much because I can play them while I wash dishes, clean the house, drive in the car.  They can become a part of my life all week long, during the moments when I am fighting to believe.  When I have woken up on dark mornings and stand in front of the kitchen sink wondering how to go on, songs can bring me hope.

Sidewalk Prophets became another recent favorite of mine.  Their song “You Can Have Me” seemed like it was written just for me as we were loving and losing our foster baby.

“If You're all You claim to be
Then I'm not losing anything
So I will crawl upon my knees
Just to know the joy of suffering

I will love You enough to let go
Lord, I give you my life
I give you my life….


“When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?
Forgetting what the world has told me
Father of love, You can have me
You can have me.”

The world was telling me I was crazy to foster and get attached and lose—who would sign up for that pain?  It wouldn’t have hurt so much if love could have been unmoving or unconsuming in my life.  But if Jesus was all He claimed to be, my loss was going to become gain.  I listened to that song over and over and over again. 

During that dark season another one of my favorites was Jeremy Camp’s “There Will Be a Day.”  I really started to hope in heaven more, especially as it became clear that my perfectly happy ending was not going to happen here on earth.

Recently when we felt at a crossroads trying to make a decision, I listened a lot to Sidewalk Prophets “Would You Help Me Find It.”  It perfectly captured my heart question: should we wait and be still, or should we walk forward, and if so, which road?

“If there’s a road I should walk
Help me find it
If I need to be still
Give me peace for the moment
Whatever Your will
Whatever Your will
Can you help me find it?”

Right now my favorite song is Big Daddy Weave’s “Overwhelmed.”  I hope it’s not annoying my family that I literally listen to it every single day.  I love that when I type “overwhelmed” into my google search, that music video is what comes up.  I have been feeling so overwhelmed lately—overwhelmed by my circumstances and relationships, overwhelmed by my weakness and inadequacy.  This song reminds me to be overwhelmed mostly by the Lord.  I find my mind getting stuck again and singing on repeat, usually when I’m feeling overwhelmed:

“I delight myself in You
In the Glory of Your Presence
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You.

“God, I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You.”

I love hearing from friends about songs that have become part of their story.  One friend of mine shared that she listened to Josh Wilson’s “Before the Morning” on her way home from the funeral of her baby son.

“So hold on, you got to wait for the light
Press on, just fight the good fight
Because the pain that you've been feeling,
It's just the dark before the morning.

“My friend, you know how this all ends
And you know where you're going,
You just don't know how you get there
So say a prayer.
And hold on, cause there's good for those who love God,
Life is not a snapshot, it might take a little time,
But you'll see the bigger picture.”

Wow.  Can you imagine singing along with that as you mourn the death of a loved one?  Now I think of my friend and her faith whenever I hear that song play.

Another friend shared with me that Hillsong’s “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” became a meaningful song to her while her son battled brain cancer.

“You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand.

“And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves….”

Can you imagine singing that as your son fights for his life?  I was so encouraged by my friend’s faith and how she believed in God and proclaimed Him even during such a crisis.  Hearing this song always makes me think of her and her family.

This is what I love about songs—they help us incarnate truth, making it more than just an abstract idea, but something we are actually singing and believing in the middle of trials.  I think this is our most powerful testimony to the world—not arguments and propositions, but lives lived well that affirm the truth and cling to it even in deep grief, or confusion, or just the crazy overwhelmed mundane feelings of life.

Maybe this is why the Bible talks so much about singing to the Lord a new song.  I’d love to hear from others what songs have been meaningful to you and when and why.  And if you don’t have any meaningful songs yet, start singing!

2 comments:

  1. One of my favorites is Rich Mullins' "Hold Me Jesus."

    Aside from that, most of my favorite go-to songs over the past couple of years have been from Andrew Peterson. "All Shall Be Well" and "Mystery of Mercy" give such a beautiful reassurance that the darkness won't be forever. In a simple way, "In the Night" does the same thing, retelling the story of Scripture. When I'm completely tangled in my own head, "Hosannah" has been a way of offering that up to the Lord and believing He has something to say in that place (the triumphant end is just glorious). When I stare at the darkness and just want to say "WHY?!?" and weep, "Come Back Soon" has proven astoundingly powerful -- these songs have helped me hope for the Lord's return and the new heavens and earth more than I knew how to before, even (and maybe especially) in the face of the ache of life-right-now. (That Rich Mullins song lands somewhere between these last two on the spectrum.) And then "Carry the Fire" just hurts because it's so beautiful in its longing for that day to come, and saying, yes, I WILL keep holding on, I WILL keep trusting, I WILL press forward one more day, as I wait for the great Day to arrive, and to see the King and Bridegroom coming....

    Maybe that was more than you wanted. But as I was reading your post, for some reason I was reminded of this song, which I've only turned to occasionally but am going to go listen to now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Te0hy2YcLgg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love listening to Bebo Norman. Ben and I got to hear him and Andre Peterson together in concert last year. I should listen to more Andrew Peterson, too ... I'll admit his song "Tractor Tractor" is the one to most commonly play on my computer!

      Delete