Ever since Jonah was a few-day-old baby, I (Joel) have made it a regular occurrence to sing to him as a part of his bedtime routine. It is something that he has come to expect and it is something that brings him comfort when he is upset. Right from the beginning I did not choose to sing the traditional lullabies to him but chose about four or five songs that I enjoyed singing – most of them coming from my favorite musician, Andrew Peterson. Andrew Peterson is a folksy artist who has a narrative style in his songs. I enjoy the lyrics and soothing melodies. The songs are so real; they speak of truths in a way that cuts right to the core. I think Jonah mostly enjoys the story aspect of his songs as well as the familiarity of their words. The songs I choose to sing are not necessarily all nice and fuzzy. They instead speak of the troubles one experiences in life. They speak of hardship and pain but also speak of a great adventure that Jesus wants to lead us on and of the great redemption that comes from giving your life over to him. I wanted Jonah to know at a young age the realities of life but the hope that we can have when we align our lives to the Author of our stories. When we surrender the pen and allow Him to write.
Over the course of this past year, I have been listening to the lyrics a little closer as I sing them. The words have taken on new and deeper meaning. I am amazed by the depth of truth that I am finding in these words and phrases – truth I was not able to discern over the past six years of singing them to my son. There is a new power to the words as I have to really decide if I am going to stand firm on what they say. These lyrics have never been more real to me. They speak of a reality that I thought I knew my whole life. Now am I realizing that I was only looking at a small piece of this reality. I am starting to see more of the whole picture. This picture is quite beautiful; but as more and more of the picture is clearly revealed to me, it is also unnerving and unsettling. It is not what I thought it would be. But there is a deep peace in my soul to see the whole picture. This peace is not comfortable, it is actually more disruptive. Even if the whole picture disrupts my life, it is a holy disruption. And I am finding that holy disruptions are the purest thing we can experience in order to get to what things are really supposed to be like.
For the next few blogs I write, I would like to share with you some of the song lyrics of the various bedtime songs that I sing to Jonah. I am hoping to be able to share the new clarity I have received about the truth they tell. This clarity has come as a result of allowing their lyrics to penetrate my heart into the places that were long forgotten or purposely sealed off. I am hoping that maybe, just maybe, the lyrics might get a hold of you too. That they might disrupt you a bit. That they might penetrate your heart.
The first song is the one that I sing to Jonah most often. It is a song that Andrew Peterson sings but was written by Mary Chapin Carpenter. It is called “Why walk when you can fly”. (Additionally, we chose this song as the music for his dedication/baptism)
It starts like this:
“In this world there’s a whole lota trouble, baby. In this world there’s a whole lota pain. In this world there’s a whole lota trouble but a whole lot of ground to gain.”
Do you hear the truth in those words? In the Bible, Jesus tells us “in this world you will have trouble”. Sometimes I want to say that that is a big understatement. I mean, no kidding that we will have trouble! We will have wake-you-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night, push-you-to-the-cliff-of-despair, make-you-question-everything-you-believe-in kind of trouble. With that trouble comes so much pain. In says in the Bible, Jesus came to “bind up the brokenhearted.” With that statement he defines us. We are the brokenhearted – every one of us. We have all had our hearts broken.
“Why take when it could be given, why watch as the world goes by, it’s a long enough life to be living, why walk when you could fly…”
Jesus comes to bind up the brokenhearted. He didn’t come to take; he came to give, to give his very life. All we have to do is receive it.
The second verse goes like this:
“In this world there’s a whole lota sorrows, in this world there’s a whole lota shame. In this world there’s a whole lota sorrows but a whole lota ground to gain.”
By now you are probably wondering why in the heck I would sing this sad song to my son to put him to sleep. Here is the thing. This world is full of sorrows. My son’s heart may be mostly intact right now but it will be broken. He will experience sorrow. We try to protect our kids from this, heck we try to protect ourselves from experiencing sorrow, but it is no use – it will come. The truly sad thing is that often it is connected to our shame. Shame is deeply connected to our wounds. Wounds from the trouble, the pain, the sorrow, our mistakes, from those that should have loved us… We feel that there must be something wrong with us. If this weren’t true then we would experience trouble, pain, sorrow, wounds, rejection, neglect, abandonment, the list goes on.
“Why spend your whole life wishing, wanting, and wondering why? It’s a hard enough life to be living why walk when you can fly.?
We wait around for something to change. We wish and wish for things to be different. We want things to be ok. Then when things don’t change – when things are not different and are more of the same – when things are not ok. We wonder why? We return to shame. There must be something wrong with me or things would be different. The truth is that reality is what makes you broken. It is what is wrong. You were made for a different existence. You were made for so much more. You were made to fly in a world that tries to force you to walk. You were made to soar in a world where flying seems strange. You were made to spread your wings in a world bent on keeping you in a cage.
The last verse goes like this:
“In this world there’s a whole lota of golden, in this world there’s a whole lota plain. In this world you’ve a soul for a compass and a heart for a pair of wings. There’s a star on the far horizon rising bright in an azure sky. For the rest of time you are living, why walk when you can fly? High… High….”
We see glimpses don’t we? We get little peeks at what life is intended to be. Sometimes we even witness someone flying in a world bent on walking. But our hearts are broken; our wings damaged; our compass not true and trustworthy. Jesus came to bind up the broken hearted. Sounds like you and me, doesn’t it? Jesus came to fix your wings. He came to reorient your compass. He came to teach you how to fly. The question is – are you going to let him? Are you going to give him access to your heart, to penetrate the place long forgotten or walled off and sealed never to be opened again? Are you going to let your wings be fixed and your compass made true? If you do, then for the rest of your life you can fly. You can soar. You were made to fly. If that is true, if that is really true – then there really is only one more question to ask. Why are you still walking?