There is More to the Song Than Lyrics

Okanagan roses impasto_daguerrotype

Sometimes my young friends like to post snippets of lyrics to songs in the status box on Facebook. My first reaction is often, “Are you OK, honey?” Then I figure it out – a song has spoken to their heart.

But it has not spoken to mine, and out of context it sounds, well, a little weird. Since I don’t know the song and have no emotional connection to it, the words are often just an interesting record of something that means something to somebody else. Thanks for sharing.

Photos can be like that too. I have my grandmother’s photos here, black and white records of her unnamed friends standing in front of grey rose bushes long since scattered in the wind. I can appreciate that they had deeper meaning to her than they do to me, and I suppose I kept them around out of respect for the things that were important to her, but now I’m paring them down and storing the more interesting ones in waterproof boxes.

For many years I was surrounded by people who told me about the wonderful things God has said. The Bible records them. I read them for myself. But for many years when someone quoted a verse of scripture it felt like reading lyrics to somebody elses favourite song.

Then I heard the Singer.  I heard the Song.

The difference between studying the Bible and hearing the Voice of the Lord for oneself is like the difference between reading the lyrics and hearing the song.

John, the disciple who rested his head on Jesus’ chest, understood. Jesus came, not as more lyrics, but as the song. He told the religious people who studied the puzzling snippets of lyrics they had, that they were about Him, and that there was more to a song than written words. But they had to let go of their “expertise” to hear -and for many that was troubling.

There is more, so much more, to this relationship with God. The difference between reading about the King of the Universe and going for a walk with him is like the difference between looking at photo of the memory of grey roses and actually touching and smelling colourful living roses.

John understood the lyrics when he heard the Voice sing the song:

Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking.

    The Voice was and is God.
 This celestial Word remained ever present with the Creator;
     His speech shaped the entire cosmos.
Immersed in the practice of creating,
    all things that exist were birthed in Him.
 His breath filled all things
    with a living, breathing light—
 A light that thrives in the depths of darkness,
    blazes through murky bottoms.
It cannot and will not be quenched.

(The good news of John, chapter one, The Voice)

The Bible is a divinely inspired record of wonderful lyrics. But lyrics alone are not the Song our hearts long to hear. What is He singing over you?


Okanagan roses impasto_bak ch

Colla voce. Follow the Voice.


I hope to keep this blog a bash-free zone, not that it comes easily to me. Change will  require effort. I have been known to wield an acid pen and in the past have taken far too much delight in humour that comes at the expense of another’s dignity. Sorry ‘bout that.

I just read this: Now if you feel inclined to set yourself up as a judge of those who sin, let me assure you, whoever you are, that you are in no position to do so. For at whatever point you condemn others you automatically condemn yourself, since you, the judge, commit the same sins. God’s judgment, we know, is utterly impartial in its action against such evil-doers. What makes you think that you who so readily judge the sins of others, can consider yourself beyond the judgment of God? Are you, perhaps, misinterpreting God’s generosity and patient mercy towards you as weakness on his part? Don’t you realise that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? (Romans 2 Phillips translation.)

I do believe we all harbour bash-worthy thoughts and practices in our lives. I also think that most of us are perfectly aware of them. We can make excuses and try to camouflage them from ourselves for a while, but when the spirit of stupid takes up residence in our lives it produces a mound of garbage no amount of room deodorizer can disguise.

There is a difference between offering critique and being critical (“helpful” or otherwise). One is requested and delivered in private with respect by a person who has proven themselves to be trustworthy; the other slops all over the place. Proper loving critique improves, encourages and builds one up. Judgmental criticism is published on Facebook and blogs, broadcast in the media, gossiped at coffee shops, preached from the pulpit and whined at the breakfast table. Condemning judgment (as opposed to wise discernment or encouraging assessment) effectively hits every target but the intended one. (We all know “open letters” are read by everyone except the person to whom they are addressed.) Frequently the purpose of such judgment is to dismiss or even eliminate perceived competition.

Strangely the very issues that trigger our pontifications are often the same besetting temptations we shove back in the closet. You know it is the kid who inherited your own character flaws who most drives you up the wall. When we attempt to parent the whole world those same weaknesses fuel our urge to flame. When momma taught us the dangers of playing with word matches, the fascination with that power didn’t disappear for many of us; we just blow-torched the personal refuse bin of someone at a distance instead.

The problem is that fire spreads.

Chapter three of James says: The human tongue is physically small, but what tremendous effects it can boast of! A whole forest can be set ablaze by a tiny spark of fire, and the tongue is as dangerous as any fire, with vast potentialities for evil. It can poison the whole body, it can make the whole of life a blazing hell.

Yes, but what if somebody on the internet is wrong?

Have they asked to be set right? Are you in authority over them? Then they’re probably not listening anyway.

It was God’s kindness that drew me to him. Years of striving and putting in my best efforts and failing to follow even my own moral code led to discouragement. His loving kindness led to encouragement. He poured into me the courage to go on when all I wanted to do was quit. He knows the plans he has for me.

I like the lyrics from Stuart Townend’s song:

Come all you vagabonds,

Come all you ‘don’t belongs’

Winners and losers,

Come, people like me.

Come all you travelers

Tired from the journey,

Come wait a while, stay a while,

Welcome you’ll be.

Come all you questioners,

Looking for answers

And searching for reasons

And sense in it all;

Come all you fallen,

And come all you broken,

Find strength for your body

And food for your soul.

Come those who worry

‘Bout houses and money,

And all those who don’t have

A care in the world;

From every station

And orientation,

The helpless, the hopeless,

The young and the old.

Come all believers

And dreamers and schemers,

And come all you restless

Just searching for home;

Movers and shakers

And givers and takers,

The happy, the sad

And the lost and alone.

Come self-sufficient

With wearied ambition,

And come those who feel

At the end of the road.

Fiery debaters

And religion haters,

Accusers, abusers,

The hurt and ignored.

Come to the feast,

There is room at the table.

Come let us meet in this place

With the King of all kindness

Who welcomes us in

With the wonder of love,

And the power of grace.