Thanks for stopping by to read this second ever blog post. I have now realised that a forum would in fact have been better for what I was envisaging when I set up this blog. I didn’t really understand how blogs work – but now that I do, I am still really hopeful that some of you guys out there will reach out and send a comment or two, which will in turn generate a comment or two – all of which will make me feel less that I am trying to preach to the world with no care for any other viewpoint. I cannot guarantee that any of you will in fact respond, but I am going to try and address my posts to as wide an audience as possible without dumbing down anything for the so-called masses. I am really keen to hear from fellow theology-and-music types out there – please, by all means pitch in, or find my contact details at http://www.theomusicology.co.uk
However, this post takes the form of a story I want to share. Recently I was in my hometown church and we were preparing for communion. A young lady had been asked to sing a meditational item. She was really feeling the message of the song herself, and it showed.
But as I (we) listened, and began to meditate on our own experiences, and to commune with God while taking in the message of the song, I was drawn out of my reverie by the sight of another young lady whom I have known all my life – she has quite serious learning difficulties. At times in the past, she has been a distraction during the services, but as kids we were taught not to judge her. I always felt sorry for her, but I never really had a chance to know her as a person (and I would concede that maybe I could have tried harder, had I been so inclined; we live and learn and grow).
But as the song progressed, it was just amazing to see to look of absolute, total wonderment on this sister’s face. At the start, she was upright in her chair. Then, she put her face in her hands. But when she lifted her head up, out of her hands, she had the most radiant smile I’ve seen for a LONG time. To me, that was the smile of someone touched right at the very core of their being. The smile grew and grew, and then she began to look heavenward, and she was turning her head from side to side, still looking upwards, and still with that radiant smile. The song reached a poignant moment, the harmony was well-crafted, the accompaniment was bang-on, and she folded her hands, and at that point the tears started to well up inside of me, as I realised that I was being touched in more ways than I had realised. The song meant something to me, but that this young lady, with a mental age far less than her real age, had found such a place of wonderment, beauty and – I don’t even know what else – she had experienced something that I believe was beyond humanity, beyond language, even beyond music.
God found a way to reach into that young lady’s life and minister to her in a direct and specific way. What I witnessed was not the power of music – nicely called ’emotion in sound’ by music therapists – it was the power of God Himself. And it was nothing but a privilege to see someone experience God in that way.
You see, I doubted my calling as a musician at one point. I doubted it to the point where I gave it up as a career. But God had a plan that has comprehensively wrecked my own sense of who God is and how He operates – and what I mean by that is that these days, I do not question my assignments. I do as he bids me, even when I do not understand. Even now, at times I wonder how a musician can do the business of music-making to a very, very serious standard and still do the business of co-labouring with the Almighty in the soul-winning business.
In a forthcoming post I will address the whole business of ‘music ministry’ – but I will confine myself to one statement: yes, professional music-making is great and wonderful, but music can and will never be ‘owned’ by professional musicians. And the same could not be truer of music ministry. God will not always use the qualified – he will qualify those who answer the call. That vocal performance was not a bravura display of virtuosity, but an earnest and sincere rendition from a non-specialist singer. And look what God did with that.
Oh, that more of us musicians would take God more seriously than we do music…