I listened to a variety of music genres growing up. The only two that I didn’t like were Country and Christian. Country music reminded me too much of the fact that I lived in the country – which I related to being oppressed as well as depressed. And Christian music just sounded pathetic – I thought it was a copycat genre trying to mimick good music but was always failing. So how did I determine what was “good” music? The melody. That was always my basis for what made a song good, not the lyrics but the melody. My love for music began when I was an elementary school student. I remember being in the 3rd or 4th grade and falling in love with Cher’s song “Do you believe in life after love?” I had no idea what the lyrics were saying but the melody just captivated me. I was drawn to how a melody could bring such emotion. Music had the magic ability to transport me to a different place. When the music came on I could be whoever I wanted to be – I was glamorous, I was desired, I was loved…
In my teenage years I spent hours upon hours listening to songs that excited my emotions. As I got older I began to have a greater awareness of God. There was a period of time when I was 19 or 20 when I felt convicted about the music I listened to. But I just couldn’t stand to listen to Christian music – in my opinion, it sucked. So I would push away those nagging thoughts that told me that the music I listened to was bad. I would tell myself and others that I didn’t listen to the lyrics and that I just liked the melody, which was true. I was 23 when I finally realized what God’s grace really was and how I so desperately needed it. I began surrendering my life to Christ and growing closer to Him with each step. Sometimes I felt the nagging feeling again that the music I was listening to wasn’t honoring God, but I continued to believe that it was okay because “I just liked the melody”.
As time went on I started to recognize that it was God convicting of my music choices but I refused to believe that a melody could be “bad”. It didn’t seem logical to me that musical notes combined in a certain way could in any way produce evil. It just didn’t make sense. One morning when I got in the car to go to work, I was about to turn on the radio as usual but those convicting thoughts came back. I began to argue with those thoughts, thinking that it doesn’t make sense and therefore it’s not true. Then the Holy Spirit spoke to me in a clear sentence, not audibly but in my spirit, “What kind of thoughts come to your mind when you listen to that music?” And right away I understood. When I listened to those songs I would let myself get carried away in my fantasies of self. When I listened to that music my thoughts were always self-glorifying, self-exalting, and self-seeking.
“…Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8
I hadn’t realized how choosing to listen to secular music always lead me to thoughts that lusted after the things of the flesh. I was so thankful to God for showing me my true state and I started to listen to Christian music instead. But the desire to listen to those secular melodies didn’t go away. In fact, they increased. It seemed when the desire came I couldn’t resist it. It was as if I was addicted to the music. After failing to resist temptation over and over I felt like such a hypocrite. It wasn’t a matter of knowledge anymore. I did know the reason why I shouldn’t listen to it, but I couldn’t seem to stop. One evening after work I got in my car and there the temptation was just waiting to overtake me yet again. I had my hand on the radio knob when I just cried out to God in my heart asking Him to take the desire away. I told God that I was unable to resist temptation and I asked Him to put the desire in my heart to listen to music that was good. Instantly, that strong force of temptation disappeared. I sat there for a moment to wait and see if I really had been delivered. From that moment on I never felt that strong force that I had no power to resist sucking me in to listen to that kind of music again.
“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you…” James 4:7-8
God delivered me from my addiction to ungodly music but I didn’t start “loving” Christian music right away. Loving worship music was actually directly related to my relationship with God – the more I became aware of how much I needed Him, the more I saw the blessings of singing to the Lord. It really wasn’t until I was 25 when I started going to church that I discovered the purpose of music. I remember hearing everyone in the church singing to the Lord about His amazing love and I immediately started to cry. God’s love and presence just overwhelmed my soul and I couldn’t do anything but cry. To me, worshiping God through music reveals the reason for why music exists. Music never seems more beautiful than when it is sung out of a heart that has been redeemed by the Creator of both music and humans. Now I can’t get enough of Christian music and not a Sunday morning goes by where I’m not brought to tears by worshipping the Lord. It’s really beyond explanation.
I think Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes it well in his book Life Together, “Our earthly song is bound to God’s revealing Word in Jesus Christ. It is the simple song of the children of this earth who have been called to be God’s children…The new song must be sung in the heart. Otherwise it cannot be sung at all. The heart sings because it is overflowing with Christ…Why do Christians sing when they’re together? The reason is, quite simply, because in singing together it is possible for them to speak and pray the same Word at the same time; in other words, because here they can unite in the Word…The fact that we do not speak it but sing it only expresses the fact that our spoken words are inadequate to express what we want to say, that the burden of our song goes far beyond all human words.”
“…be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts…” Ephesians 5:18-19
“Then I will praise you with music on the harp, because you are faithful to your promises, O my God. I will sing praises to you…” Psalm 71:22
“Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; celebrate his lovely name with music.” Psalm 135:3
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