Monday, July 7, 2008

Eternity Matters

The summer I was 17 I spent about a month house-sitting for some friends. It was sort of a strange set-up in that they were actually there but they were all working overtime for the month to pile away some extra money for the vacations they were all taking. So while they were working all day, almost everyday, my job was to take care of the house & do all things they couldn't get to. It was a super-cushy job, I might add. I had my own room, and the house was at the end of a private drive, deep in the woods, with a huge wrap-around deck overlooking a gorgeous lake. Indeed, it was a most cushy job.

Every day was the same routine. After all the regular housework was done I'd go out on the deck with the stereo playing full blast (gotta love those long, private drives) and lay out in the sun. Of course this was back in the day when I knew it all, and suntanning was the thing to do. Coated in baby oil of course, to achieve the ultimate deep-fried teen affect.

I don't really know what it was about that summer that stands out so memorably for me, but it does. Especially the times I would lay out on the deck and listen to my music. I'd find myself completely wrapped up in the melody and the lyrics, and with the hot sun beating down on my skin, nothing mattered but the music. I spent a lot of pre-married, pre-motherhood years just like that, where music was all that really mattered. Maybe it stands out so much because it was so empty, compared to what came many years later.

Driving home today from the store I flipped the station a and song came on from the summer of 17. It was one of those sun-fried deck songs, and it instantly transported me back to the scene. It was a hot day today like it was in those days, and for a split second or two, I remembered that feeling of nothing mattering, but the music. That may sound strange to people who have never been through a vacuuous period like that, but that's just the way it was.

As much as I loved music then, and still love it now, the one overwhelming emotion that being like that brings with it, is desperate lonliness. As much as you might have friends, family, and a relatively active social life, there is still a deep lonliness that is always there no matter what you try to fill it with. Just under the surface is a mixed bag of emotions of sadness, distance, not belonging, fear, betrayal and more. Just under the surface, and if compelled to 'go there' by just the right situation or event, for many people there's an explosion waiting to happen in the form of tears and brokenness. For other people it comes out in the form of painful, power-ballads that we all relate to, in one way or another. If you're filled with this lonliness, music can actually make it worse sometimes, depending on the genre you listen to and the mood you're in to begin with. I don't recommend such things as Love Hurts by Nazareth to perk your mood up, unless you're completely mental and such songs have that affect on you.

After a second or two today, that yesteryear feeling passed and I was so glad. While there were some really great memories of that summer, that painful lonliness that I tried to soothe with music was not one of the good ones. Of course I didn't know it at the time, but what I was missing was the ever faithful love of God. I'm not sure if it can be layed out analytically, but I have a hunch there is some kind of connection between soul and song, and those with a desperate soul often feed it with song. The only problem with that is, there isn't ever enough song to satisfy the broken fellowship fallen man has with a holy God.

It would be another 12 years before I was converted to Christ and regenerated by the power of God. I recall so vividly all the times shortly after that, that I kept realizing how much I didn't know before, what my life was missing. Like an unfinished song, the pen went to paper and the harmony and the melody and final note were composed into a completeness. That completeness was salvation through Christ. Gone were all the thoughts of 'what am I here for?' and doubts about what my life mattered anyway. Replaced with a focus, a purpose, and a hope that I never dreamed in a million years, even existed. All of that replaced with something that matters that is eternal past, and eternal future.

Praise God for His incredible grace, that He bothers with any of us to begin with.

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