Have you ever listened to a song over and over, totally loved it, but never really knew what the lyrics were saying? You know all the words and they come out of your mouth without you really listening? Then you finally sit and listen to them and you are blown away by what you just heard - either good or bad? It's like driving sometimes...you jump in the car and go somewhere and you hardly remember driving there at all. It becomes such a routine that you don't even remember doing it.
Ever since I was tiny, I have always loved music. Any kind of music really...anything with a good, catchy beat. I can listen so closely to a song to be able to pull out the harmonies and instruments...even tuning out the words for awhile. It would (and still does) drive me nuts when a song would come on and I didn't know all the lyrics. Back in the day of cassette tapes (for the young readers out there - we used these before CDs), I would sit down with my pencil and paper and play my tape. I would listen closely to the first sentence, hit pause, and write down the lyrics. I would do this until the whole song was on paper. Even then, I didn't quite understand every lyric or phrase in a song - whether meaning or clarity in the words. I did my best to write down what I thought the words were so I could learn the song. I wrote them down and sang them even if I didn't understand what it meant. I should have created lyrics.com, huh? I have a folder of them somewhere!
Music, particularly the words in music, have been on my heart and mind lately. For the past few years, I personally have only listened to Christian music on the radio station. I know that what I and my children are hearing is good. And the bible says what goes in, will flow out of the heart and mouth. For me this was huge. I didn't always listen to the best type of music. The first thing that would attract me to a song was the catchy beat, not the words. As we drove up to Branson this past weekend, we found a 90s station on our satellite radio. Oh, how the memories came back when hearing those songs. On this 6 hour drive, there was lots of meditating and actually listening to these lyrics. I actually couldn't believe 1) that they played those songs on the radio and 2) that I was allowed to listen to them. I can see how these words can slowly enter your vocabulary, your mind, your actions. When I look back on my life, I see the evidence. I have also had time (and a quiet car ride) enough to meditate on good songs. When I use to listen to Christian music, they were just words to me also. But now that I know what God's word says, I see the beauty in these songs. I use to think they were just words, but now I see that these writers have pulled words right out of the word of God. They have so much more meaning to me. I can see and hear the worship in the music. I see how I use to worship whatever I was singing about. How powerful music is!
I spoke at a MOMs group recently and shared that one of the things I do to put God in the center of my day as a mom is to only listen to Christian music. I was actually surprised when one quiet lady spoke up and said "I am not convicted in that way. I don't think the music I listen to influences me". Maybe it's true that some people have more control over what influences them but I think over time, certain things that you hear, see, and even say become okay...they don't sound as bad...they slowly become part of who we are.
I was with my younger brother this past week. He loves the Lord and is very active in the youth group and church. I remember him "preaching" to his friends as a young boy. He is very vocal to his friends about being a Christian and invites them to church. Now he is evolving into a young man and I see how the world is slowly changing him. I worry about the music he is listening to and the things he is allowing himself to watch on the computer and TV. He had me listen to some awful song the other day...and by awful I am talking lyrics. I told him I was surprised he would listen to something with words like that. I told him he should just be careful to what he was listening to because that could slowly change him into someone he doesn't want to be without even knowing it. I am afraid that this could be confusing the friends that he is inviting to church of who God really is. I know that I am guilty of this too! I read in some parenting book lately that we should always set their paths straight right away. Not laughing things off as something our kids do in innocence. We should always be talking to them about choices. If we don't care about the small things, they will turn into big things. Just as when my little brother at age 2 use to call himself Slim Shady and sing parts of the song (another horrible song that I was reintroduced to this weekend) and we all thought it was funny. That's the world slowly making things a little more okay for us. There is a theme within the bible that God is interested in the small things. Frequently, we see incidents in life as “little things” and later we learn to our regret that God sees these same incidents as “big things.” Jesus explains:
If you're honest in small things,
you'll be honest in big things;
If you're a crook in small things,
you'll be a crook in big things.
If you're not honest in small jobs,
who will put you in charge of the store?
No worker can serve two bosses:
He'll either hate the first and love the second
Or adore the first and despise the second.
You can't serve both God and money"
(The Message, Luke 16:10)
All of that reminded me of another amazing song by Casting Crowns called Slow Fade. He talks about how people never crumble in a day...it's a slow fade. I found some information on the song and it comes from Psalm 1:1-2...I just love my New Living Translation. It reads: "Oh the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night."
The words of the whole song are located here if you want to see them all. But the part that really sticks out to me is this: "The journey from your mind to your hands is shorter than your thinking. Be careful if you think you stand, you just might be sinking. It's a slow fade, when you give yourself away. Thoughts invade, choices are made, prices are paid, when you give yourself away". When you go through this time in your life, you don't feel as if you are "giving yourself away" but little by little, you are really giving a piece of yourself to the world...you are allowing a little of the world into your life. John Mark Hall (lead singer and writer for Casting Crowns) says don't miss the slow fade of a man in Psalm 1:1 -listen (or read) close - "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of scoffers" First he's walking, then he's standing, then he's sitting...he's slowly fading...where did this all start? It started in his counsel - who did he go to for counsel? where did he spend his time? who did he listen to? what's he reading? what's he clickin on? what's he watching? Little compromise by little compromise we find ourselves where we thought we would never be doing things that we thought we would never do but because it was so slow, we are totally rationalizing it." That is so powerful and so true. You have to see this short video by John explaining this further here. It could be something as small as something you really enjoy one of but end up having two...or three...or four (think chips, oreos, alcholic drinks...fill in the blank with something you love). You say "it's not a bad thing to have one"...but then you can't just have one. It leads to another and another until it's finally a sin or changed your life in some way.
I have to add something here to show you how God works. Whenever I am about to write on the blog, God provides material. I have said this before but time and time again God continously shows me things over and over so that it is very clear what I am to write about. On my trip to Costa Rica, I gained a couple of new good buddies. One new buddy (we'll call him PB) and I had a lot of serious conversations and learned lots of little things about each other. One thing we learned is that we both use to write a lot of poetry in the past and feel that one of the gifts that God gave us was writing. Just last night he sent me an email to see if I would take a look at a few of his poems and give him some feedback. Here was the first one he sent written for his son. He did not know that I would be writing on this subject the blog today - Coinscidence? No! God? Yes! (might need to click on it to see it bigger)
Who do we want our children...our family...or friends to be like - the world or God? Who do we need to be like? It's so hard but it's easier when we keep the right things in front of us at all times and not let that world slowly fade us. It puts things in perspective for me even further than my radio hearing, TV watching, and computer clicking in my life...my one drink that turns into two...or three...or four...Am I slowly fading by what I do? Am I unconsciously fading myself and my children as a result. Am I walking or sinking? What about you - are you slowly giving yourself away?