New Ears Hear

"The Return of the Prodigal Son" by Rembrandt

Music should mean something.

I have long maintained the virtue of song — or any art, really — is the ability to reveal common feelings with uncommon technique. The magic of inspiration allows one person to open their soul and, in so doing, give others the key to their own.

Sometimes we are reached in an unexpected manner, as though our eyes are opened and our ears hear for the first time all over again. Our brains are set ablaze and something of life makes sense to us, regardless of the artist’s intent.

This Fall, I became acquainted with the now-Grammy nominated Mumford and Sons.

The worship pastor at my church, a tall, blond Californian who would look just as appropriate holding a surfboard as he does playing a guitar, recommended the English folk band to me. I had approached him to express my appreciation for bluegrass-inspired renditions of our typical praise music and he encouraged me to give them a listen. He raved about the “passion” and “energy” as though the foursome had managed to corner the market in delivering emotion.

I headed to YouTube and did a search, then watched the most popular video, “Little Lion Man.” Sufficiently intrigued, I purchased Sigh No More, their big-label debut, and went about listening to it the next day during my commute.

From the very start, I felt moved.

Beyond the thumping rhythms and charged vocals, the words spoke to me — a rarity on anything short of the twelfth or fifteenth spin for a given album most of the time.

I could identify parallels between the lyrics and my blossoming life.

There are references to being made to meet your Maker and living life as it’s meant to be.

One song, though, continues to hit home more than the rest: “Roll Away Your Stone.” The title itself highlights the resurrection of Christ, yet an examination of the poetry contained within the four-plus minutes describes the soul’s rebirth. Have a look:

Roll away your stone, I’ll roll away mine.
Together we can see what we will find.
Don’t leave me alone at this time,
For I’m afraid of what I will discover inside.

Engaging faith is a lot like stepping into sunlight after enjoying an afternoon matinée — we stumble around confused and half-blind at first until we adjust. Encountering the past and evaluating attitudes is enlightening, to say the least. Sometimes we find a person we have trouble liking at all.

You told me that I would find a hole,
Within the fragile substance of my soul
And I have filled this void with things unreal,
And all the while my character it steals.

Coming to the end of ourselves, we find all the different means by which we attempted to cover up our ache for the Father. We realize what we’ve given up in doing so — the fools we’ve looked chasing money or the selfishness we’ve displayed towards others — and come to grips with the ramifications of that trade.

Darkness is a harsh term, don’t you think?
And yet it dominates the things I see.

We all wish those decisions had been better (though they can and will be used for good), yet we realize how much our misguided choices led us into bad spots and possibly even self-destruction.

It seems that all my bridges have been burned,
You say that’s exactly how this grace thing works.
It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart,
But the welcome I receive at the restart.

Having wandered as far down the path as possible, we are often left with nothing before we turn towards God. When we encounter His love, when we see Him running to greet us, it is difficult to be anything but overwhelmed by joy.

Darkness is a harsh term, don’t you think?
And yet it dominates the things I see. (2x)

Stars hide your fires,
These here are my desires
And I will give them up to You this time around.
And so, I’ll be found with my stake stuck in this ground
Marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul (2x)

What was once important — the pursuits apart from our purpose — fade into the background as our attention shifts. We take the wishes of our heart and lift them up to the Father, doing our best to make our lives His sovereign province every day.

You, you’ve gone too far this time
You have neither reason nor rhyme
With which to take this soul that is so rightfully mine.

Then we turn back to the world, determined as ever to follow the path He carved for us — aware we’ll still falter from time to time — and claim the future He has in store.

Well, that’s what I hear.

How about you?

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