I’m sorry, but when I am pondering the wonder of God’s love for me, hurricanes, trees, and sloppy wet kisses do not come to mind. Not even a little bit.
That’s not a criticism, it’s a confession.
Talking bad about someone’s worship music is a quick way to start a fuss. I remember well the old preacher who told us that the music we sang and played back in the ’70’s “didn’t have no handles.” We couldn’t figure out what that meant, and he couldn’t explain it, so we just stared at each other across the Great Divide. At church, we’d sing some of ours and he’d find some “with handles” that he could lead, and we fashioned an understanding of sorts.
Each generation has to live through its own experiences. The old timers will tell you all the mistakes to avoid, and your parents try to rush ahead of you and fill every pothole in the road of life so you’ll never feel the bumps, but the truth is everybody has to experience life for themselves.
It’s only through this living out life that you get to know God. It pains others to have to watch you endure it, but it’s the way God personalizes His love and forgiveness for every individual.
And it is along that road that you get your own set of music.
You wonder why some gray haired saint gets all teary eyed while hearing twangy voices sing “bye and bye when the morning comes?” It’s probably because, at some point in living through some difficult life lessons, their hearts connected to words of that old song and the hope it inspired encouraged them to fight on.
That’s one reason I try not to be too hard on folks whose music I don’t much appreciate. I don’t know what roads they’ve had to walk. Neither do I know what melodies brought them comfort when they felt all alone.
It’s the same with today’s young people and their music. The last thing I want to do is complain about the one ray of encouragement they might be able to see in their struggle to get to know God and to develop the tenacity it takes to grow strong faith.
Everybody has to walk their own paths. And it is on those paths that each person connects with the corresponding music. Their life’s soundtrack.
It’s strange, but as I age, I find myself connecting not so much with the music of my youth, but with the music of my parents. I don’t know if it’s because of the comfort I saw them glean from those old songs, or if the lyrics take me back to those days when I lived carefree in mom’s and dad’s care, but more and more I find them in my heart and on my lips. Both today’s music and those songs I loved as a youth are drowned out by songs I once considered corny and sappy.
Today’s worship leaders don’t included them in the song service (they call them worship sets nowadays) any more, but I’ve Got A Mansion Just Over The Hilltop will move something way down in my soul that thoughts of hurricanes and trees can never touch. My Thanks To Him and I See A Crimson Stream Of Blood won’t get much airplay on today’s Christian radio, but they can transport me into heavenly places before you can say sloppy wet kisses.
I’ve discovered that a whole lot of the things we worry about are often groundless. That crowd of young people singing those songs that our elder just couldn’t approve all those years ago? Almost the whole crew is still singing and worshiping as boldly and joyfully as before – much to their grandchildren’s chagrin.
I don’t have the final word on music, but I do offer this bit of advice. If you plan to convince anyone older or younger than you that they shouldn’t be singing their songs, choose your words carefully. It’s a bit hard to sing those old songs while you’re eating crow.
***The Bible tells us to follow the faith of our pastors. So, if your pastor preaches and lives the Word and suggests you sing a different song, you’d be wise to follow along. God puts folks in place to guide you as you go.
SusanNovember 18, 2015 at 6:49 pm
Spot on, Doug! Thank you for a fresh, reasonable, non-provocative approach to the long lasting, unsolved generational battle of the songs.
Doug EllingsworthNovember 19, 2015 at 9:04 pm
Thanks for reading!
Mary Sue MyersNovember 24, 2015 at 5:56 pm
Brother I find myself being encouraged by songs I heard my mother sing as she went about her work. I hold a clear title to a mansion that JESUS has gone to prepare Rust cannot harm it and it will never need a repair the termites cannot destroy its foundation for on the ROCK OF AGES it stands. Its almost completed and ready for me to move in. This is one of the many that I can hear my mother sang. I can also hear the joy and triumph in her voice as she sang.
Doug EllingsworthNovember 25, 2015 at 10:51 am
Thanks for the note! It’s amazing where our encouragement comes from. Keep on singing! Love you all.