Sunday, February 6, 2011

No Wonder: Music Without God Hurts The Ears

Day One. Moved the Bose radio into my bedroom, set it atop my bureau and plugged it in after a year of being retired to the office closet. I decided I needed a radio instead of cds that often needed changing. Scanned through the stations and settled on easy 93.1 FM.

Day Two. Bopped around to the easy listening station which brought back blasts from my past. I was in easy listening heaven: Peter, Paul and Mary were leaving on a jet plane, Art Garfunkel reminded me that, "I only have eyes for you." Who could resist the charms of Dan Hill in "Sometimes When We Touch?" Ahh..romance at its core...

Sweet Grease star Olivia Newton-John twice that day belted out "Hopelessly Devoted to You." I kept the radio on continuously. Silence no more. I was not alone! All day long from the hallway before I entered my bedroom I listened to each stanza, danced into the room and sang each word loudly (because I could). Amazed I remembered each and every verse, chorus and word. I felt empowered as if the songs were long lost friends in which I had just reunited.

Old sweater comfortable. No, old sweater comfortable on a cold, crisp winter morning. One more try. Old sweater comfortable on a cold, crisp winter morning with a blazing fire in the fireplace, a cat on my lap and a cup of cocoa in my hand.

Day Three. Suddenly, I became more finely tuned in to the actual sentences. No longer were my ears tickled with the memories, sounds and voices of the past. I was actually listening to the words. Suprisingly, I was disturbed by the theme throughout each song. Darkness, hell, being alone, holding in feelings of fear, dust in the wind, if only you believed in miracles baby - - so would I, saying goodbye, rainy day people, breaking up is hard to do....

The filter on my Christian "lens" in which I process all things in life brought the hopelessness of this genre of songs into focus. The songs I had considered "friendly blasts from the past" offended me.

And no wonder. God was not in those songs. I sat on my bed and wept. How many hours of wasted time did I invest in singing those songs? I could have learned Bible songs, verses, meaningful wisdom and thought-provoking proverbs!

Just like Dr. Suess's Sam I am I could have substitute the green eggs and ham for "I won't learn those songs...on a train, in a car, in a house, with a mouse, with a fox, in a box, with a goat, in a tree..." Unlike Sam, I wish I never gave in to singing those songs and wasting time allowing the lyrics to etch themselves into my brain.

No wonder right in the middle of Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up is Hard To Do" I sobbed. For so many years of my childhood I had heard and memorized these songs and so many more. Like the Catholic mass, I can repeat them backwards, forwards, patting my belly, hiking a mountain, upside down - you name it. Those words are etched in my brain. They were my green eggs and ham. My steady diet of music. And now I hated it. No wonder. Music without God hurts the ears.

Until then I never realized how sad, empty and hopeless those songs were. No wonder I rebelled, searched and sought to fill the empty spaces in my soul that always were reserved for God.

The Bible teaches parents to train up a child in the way that he/she should go and he/she will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6) . Well now. I thank my parents for raising me with a foundation of faith. We were raised in the Catholic church. We did know right from wrong. We did pray before meals. We did attend church as a family and my parents did instill forgiveness and unconditional love in us always.

However, we did not have the Bible as our rulebook and guidebook for right living according to God. And so I thank God for His mercies in opening my eyes (2 Corinthians 4:4) just as Paul had the blinders come off after he lost his vision on the Road to Damascus. As John Newton's song "Amazing Grace" reminds me, "I once was lost and now I see." Better yet, see and hear....
Grace. Unconditional love God-style.

Lord Jesus, "Thank you for opening my ears today, for opening my eyes one day so that I could see and taste of Your Goodness (Psalm 34:8). Your Amazing Grace is open and available for all (John 3:16). Help me not to just be a hearer of Your Word, but a doer as well."

Yes, every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. No wonder they call Him Savior.

James the Lord's "Brother" (I.e., Cousin) had it right when he wrote under the Power of the Holy Spirit in the Book of James:

"He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:17-27 NIV)

Forget Neil Sedaka. We aren't only Dust in the Wind. The Continous Soft and Easy Favorites have it all wrong. The backbone of my musical existence was always God. No wonder. He sang to me when I was sleeping (Zephaniah 3:17), when I was in the shower, even when I was singing solely secular songs and didn't know Him. I didn't hear Him serenading me until that day the blinders came off.

No wonder Whitney Houston questions, "Where Do Broken Hearts Go?" She forgot her first love. She lost her way. Amazing Grace. Come on back. No wonder she lost her way. GoSister, God is singing. He always was. Always will be. He waits for your sonata. Amazing Grace. How sweet the sound.

No wonder. He has never been just a blast from your past (Hebrews 13:5).

Now, that's something to sing about...even if you can't sing a tune in a tin can ~ He smiles and sings right back (Zephaniah 3:17) to you. And your ears will never be the same again.
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