Just before Lent started my wonderful friend Liesl posted this blog about her quest (doesn’t that just sound so much more adventurous?) to give up non-Christian music for Lent. I’ve heard of folks doing this before. I have even known people who give up listening to all music during Lent. In her post Liesl asks for suggestions for Christian music (whether it was overtly Christian or Christian-themed). I decided that I would put together a playlist for her of all my favorites and mail her some wonderful mixed CDs (well, I thought they were wonderful…the jury is still out!).
But before I mailed her these musical and lyrical gems I decided to listen to all the songs to make sure they were as awesome as I’d always remembered them being. So, I hopped in my car for my 30ish minute drive to work and switched my playlist from Taylor Swift’s “Red” (don’t judge) to “Liesl’s Lenten Music”. I kid you not, 30 seconds later I was the crankiest I’d been in quite some time. It was as if some inner demon came out full force and wanted to scream, “I DON’T WANT THIS JESUS MUSIC, GIVE ME BACK TAYLOR SWIFT!!” Before I even knew it these thoughts were running amok, and even I was disgusted at them. Where was this nonsense coming from? Why was some inner part of me so afraid to turn off Taylor Swift and listen to Christian themed music?
Trust me when I say that I’m not at all calling Taylor Swift the devil, nor am I implying that listening to her music will rot out your ear drums and your soul. But something within me had snapped and was afraid of letting go of the influence of the outside world and listening only to God. I am a self-proclaimed a music addict. I know of only two people who have more music in their iTunes than I do (I’m up over 20 days). There is an entire category of my blog devoted entirely to songs that I love so much that I just had to blog about them. It is fairly safe to say that if I gave up music for Lent it could over-dramatically be compared to detoxing.
I drove along, all the while listening to “Restless” by Audrey Assad, (the irony of that is not lost on me) wondering what the heck was going on in my soul. I began to think that Liesl might be nuts and that before my head exploded I would need to turn Taylor Swift back on, lest I show up to the office like some crazed loon. (Admittedly, that wouldn’t be all that different from normal since I am a youth minister, but that is beside the point.)
In the midst of the chaos Audrey began to sing, “Still my heart, hold me close, let me hear a still small voice…let it grow, let it rise, into a shout, into a cry.” It was in listening to her beautifully repeat that line with growing depth and hunger that I realized what I was so afraid of: actually hearing the voice of God. I get so busy that I don’t know how to still my heart. I’m afraid of Him holding me close – what if He asks something crazy of me? What if He tries to stretch me? What if He wants to use me for some greater purpose than I had in mind for myself? I fear hearing His still small voice calling out my name. I fear His voice growing in me, I fear it rising, I fear Him shouting through me to His children.
Then it occurred to me: isn’t that what Lent is all about? Lent is a time to quiet everything else and enter into the wilderness with Jesus. It is a time to slow down, to rest our hearts in Him (because we know that they are restless elsewhere). It is a time to let His voice grow in us, to hear His still small voice, and to grow in willingness to follow Him wherever He leads. Because He does lead. He is leading us to the cross…and to the resurrection.