A few years ago, I was sitting with a friend at a Christmas party, talking about the ‘secret meaning’ behind a CD. This may sound trite, but then, when you’re 19 years old, I think most of your conversations are trite. Actually, when you’re 23, I’m pretty sure most of your conversations are trite, too. I claim to have matured in the span from 19 to 23, but not as much as I give myself credit for.
“So have you figured it out?” he asked, half-smiling at me. This particular friend of mine has a way of asking questions that stump me, yet I can never get mad at him for it. I don’t know how he does it. I dislike – and value – that in him.
“Uh…I think so?”
I sighed. “I have a feeling that if I had, I’d understand exactly what you mean. And since I don’t…I suppose that no, I haven’t.”
He nodded. “You’ll figure it out.”
I shook my head, irritated. “I doubt that.”
The album I was trying to figure out is called A Collision (or, 3+4=7), by the David Crowder Band. It’s one of my favorites now, but at that point, it never failed to frustrate me. It was weird. It had strange little mini-songs between the real songs. And there was this really annoying track at the end that was full of static and mumbling. What was the deal with this band, anyway?
One night, however, as I was sitting at Kerbey Lane (a 24 hour restaurant in Austin), working on a paper at 2 in the morning with the album playing on my iPod, I heard something I hadn’t heard before. I set down my blueberry pancake-loaded fork and turned the volume up, concentrating.
“Okay, so what’s the deal with these little songs between the real…you know, the real songs? Like, are they significant?”
Very good question, I thought, intrigued. I looked down and saw that I was listening to the last track on the album – the annoying one. I started the track over, making sure to listen closely so I could catch every mutter.
I listened to the whole thing. Then I listened to it again. And again. And then I left the restaurant, my paper unfinished, because I looked like a bit of a lunatic, sitting alone with tears streaming down my face.
The whole point of the album is simple: they’re just trying to make you sing. Even though the elements of worship are imperfect, even though sin (the ground pulling at their feet) is keeping them down – they’re just trying to make you sing.
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Of course Crowder’s trying to make you sing. That’s what he does. He’s a singer-songwriter-worship leader. He has been given a gift from God that helps others glorify God Himself. He is being faithful with his talents, just like all Christians ought to be. Just like I try to be.
What I’ve been realizing lately, however, is this:
The ground isn’t just pulling at my feet. It’s pulling at my whole being – my time, my soul, my joy.
You see, I’m not exactly sure what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. Even though I look ‘put-together’ on the outside (happily married to the best person in the world, employed with a full-time job that directly correlates to my degree and should fulfill me in every way a profession should; basically, functioning in every conceivable way that a young adult ought to), I wake up in the morning and stare at myself in the mirror, lost.
I tend to think in sentences like this: “When I _________________, I will be satisfied.”
“When I graduate from college, I will be satisfied.”
“When I get married, I will be satisfied.”
“When I finally get an internship, I will be satisfied.”
And yet here I am, overflowing with good and perfect things, utterly bewildered and still thinking in “When I…” sentences.
Many people like to quote C.S. Lewis when comments such as these come up. It’s a fantastic quote, but, in my estimation, has been made somewhat catchphrase-y by the Christian community.
“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
I shake my head every time I read this. Yeah, okay, Lewis. I know you’re a genius. I get it. I can’t be satisfied by anything but God Himself.
I can’t be satisfied by anything other than God Himself.
No matter how good my life is (ungrateful wretch, aren’t I?), my goal shouldn’t be to find satisfaction among temporal things. My goal is heavenward. To always turn to my Father and give Him all the glory. To sing, and help others sing, too, even when it feels like the ground is not only pulling at my feet, but swallowing me up to my neck.
I’m determined to keep singing.
I strongly recommend that you turn your volume way up, pay close attention, and listen to this whole thing.
David: “Um. I mean, I guess. I just…I don’t think…I don’t think you should read too much into any of this, you know? It’s…I mean, the Lark Ascending was written…it was a piece written by Vaughn Williams who died in 1958, and, uh…the work opens with this calm set of sustained chords and then…and so then the violin enters as the lark and it…it starts with this series of ascending and repeated intervals and this…these nimble and elongated arpeggios. And he actually found inspiration in a work by the English poet George Meredith, who died in 1909, and the composer included a portion of Meredith’s poem on the flyleaf of the published work. And it went like this:
‘He rises and begins to round,
He drops the silver chain of sound,
Of many links without a break,
In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake.
For singing ’til his heaven fills,
‘Tis love of earth that he instills,
And ever winging up and up,
Our valley is his golden cup
And he the wine which overflows
To lift us with him as he goes.
‘Til lost on his aerial rings
In light, and then the fancy sings.’”
Interviewer: “Huh. Wow. That’s nice. But, I mean…but who is the lark?
David: “I don’t know.”
Interviewer: “Sorry; I think I’ve got the wrong page. The script you gave me says something different. It says you are.”
David: “Yeah, but I don’t…I don’t feel like the lark much of the time. And there are other larks for me, you know?”
Interviewer: “Wait a second. So correct me if I’m wrong but in the script I have, you’re making a point that art does this.”
Interviewer: “You know, the whole ‘It rises on wing from earth to fill the heavens, pulling the rest of us with it; that as the lark rises, so do we.’”
David: “Right. I’m unsure.”
Interviewer: “But…hold on. I mean…it…it says so right here.”
David: “Yeah. But the ground pulls at my feet.”