These thoughts have been chasing each other around my brain for a while now, and at first I thought they were about music. Then I thought they were about God.
But after allowing them to marinate for a bit, I realize that truth-telling is again the heart of the issue. Truth-telling as it relates to music and God.
I'm going to back into it. First, a confession.
I don't like Christian music. (If there is such a thing. I kind of think that there are no "Christian" things; only Christian people. And I adamantly believe that music - the measures and rests and notes - is neutral, I don't care who wrote it or why or what they think about Jesus or Buddha or Tom Cruise - it's music. Words, obviously, can be Christ-exalting or not, but...BUNNY TRAIL! Neither here nor there.)
I don't like "Christian" music. I find 75% of it hokey, cheesy, and theologically incorrect, or at best shallow and self-centered. I don't like "Christian" concerts - I don't like holding hands with strangers, kumbayah moments, or feeling pressured to dance like the uncoordinated white person I am while listening to songs about God.
Before you send that hate mail, youth groupie/Casting Crowns enthusiast, I'm not knocking it; I see that Christian music has value. It can be encouraging, challenging, moving, even life-changing . I'm glad it exists, but it's just not my favorite thing*.
*Exception: Songs to God that lead me into truth-telling are absolutely my very favorite thing.
The about God/to God distinction is essential for me. I tire of singing songs about God almost immediately because, who am I singing to? Myself? The people around me? It doesn't take long for me to look around the room at a group of Christians singing at a stage to think "What is going on here?"
But I don't believe I've ever tired of singing to Him.
And yet, even among the "to God" prayerful, worshipful songs I have a favorite breed. My heart beats fast, I bounce on my tip toes, and a insuppressible smile surfaces when I sing songs that contain within them a proclamation.
A bold, unapologetic declaration. A cry of the heart. When I can shout the truth forth from the tips of my toes.
Truth makes my heart soar.
I believe that truth is always best. Emotions are good, thoughts are good, responses are good - but truth is best.
Telling the truth is best when you feel guilty and shameful. Truth-telling takes the ton of bricks off your chest, the mask off your face, and shines light into the darkness, no matter how hard it might be. Truth says, "It's okay, you don't have to hide anymore."
Telling the truth is best when you are passionate. When you stand and shout (literally, proverbially) to call attention to a cause. Twisted truths can't win real followers, only deceived ones. But the truth is nearly impossible to argue with logically. There is a joy and excitement in announcing to the world something you know to be real, something that matters.
Telling the truth is best in relationships. To know and be known is the safest, most comfortable place. Nothing can uproot love that is grounded in truth. Truth sucks the power out of nasty surprises.
Come clean, have peace, live without fear, be known, be trustworthy, be confident. The truth is solid ground to stand on. The truth will set you free.
And so, when my heart speaks the truths of God directly to the heart of my Maker, Sustainer, and Lover of my soul through the gorgeous medium that is music?
Psalm 107 says, "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so."
Yeah, let's say it.
Psalm 145 says, "One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty— and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works— and I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness."
Yeah, let's do that. Let's proclaim the bigness, the greatness, the awesomeness of God. Let's sing of his sufficiency, rejoice in His character. Let's magnify Him - make much of Him - make Him large in our minds and our lives.
Let's tell the truth about Him. Not because He needs to hear it, but because we need to say it.
A few of my most favorite proclamations. Would you be so encouraging as to share a few of yours?
"All of You is more than enough for/All of me/For every thirst and every need." Yes.
"You are good, You are good/ When there's nothing good in me." Yes.
"No brighter star has ever shined/No better hope for all mankind/No higher mind/No not one." Yes.
"I am not the same!" Yes. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.
"You saved me, You saved me, You saved me! You alone can heal me. You alone can save." Yes. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.
"I'm alive, I'm alive, I'm alive, I'm alive!" Yes. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.
"My God is the God who provides." Yes.
"It is well with my soul." Yes.
"Thou changest not/Thy compassions they fail not./As Thou hast been/Thou forever will be." YES.
And my two go-to nighttime songs for my kids, that they may know the truth:
"God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He's so good to me. He loves me so, He loves me so, He loves me so, He's so good to me. God answers prayers, God answers prayers, God answers prayers, He's so good to me."
"I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, No turning back, no turning back.
Though none go with me, I still will follow (3x) No turning back, no turning back."