As I think back to many messages I tried to relay to others on God’s behalf, I think of so many songs that held deep meaning for me. I’ve mentioned repeatedly how much music has affected my life and journey.
Sanctus Real’s “Whatever You’re Doing (Something Heavenly)” in its relation to Hebrews 12; David Crowder Band’s “How He Loves” and Psalm 136, and their “Wholly Yours” and its connection to Caleb, or wholeheartedness; MercyMe’s “Beautiful” and Leah in Genesis; Cross Movement’s “9-10” and Psalm 78 with the remembering of 9/11; the OC Supertones’ “Return to Revolution”; DC Talk’s “Jesus Freak,” Johnny Cash, and the list goes on. These were just the “bigger” messages that I recall. God gave music as such a gift. And I am ever so thankful.
I believe music gives hope. Especially when it points to Jesus there is hope, but certainly other music about love, overcoming hard times, etc. gives people hope to go on. Poetry, rhythm, the up and down measures of music parallel the movement of life quite often. More often than not I told the band whenever I preached what song to close our service with. And more often than not in those moments I felt God’s Spirit way more than I sensed His movement when I was relaying His Word. Music heightens emotions, our mind and soul. They say geniuses loved classical music, and I kinda get that now – it’s not just the words that affect us, but what sound is behind them.
After sharing our difficult road of 2011 in December, the band closed with “Song of Hope” by Robbie Seay Band. Even though I knew it was coming, it broke me down like many songs have in the quietness of God, the music and me. I was just listening to another song at my current ministry by Addison Road called “Hope Now.” (I actually really wanted to name my website hopenow but it was taken). I believe in hope here and now. And I believe in hope now and forever. The main line in the song is:
“Everything rides on hope now, everything rides on faith somehow. When the world has broken me down, your love sets me free.”
It’s so true. Faith, hope and love are so interconnected. Kinda reminds me of a famous chapter in the Bible – one of the most heard by by people – because of weddings. “Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13. How true is that? Faith, hope and love.
I’ve focused so much in this site on hope. I guess it’s because those hopeless times stick out to me more than the faithless or loveless ones. But they’re all connected. I think hope gives way to faith and helps us understand that love is the greatest. Certainly love can give people hope, but that’s usually faith. Faith that there will be hope. So what provides the link to the faith, hope and love we receive from Jesus, the Author and perfecter of the faith (and hope and love), Hebrews 12:1-3? People want faith. They want hope. They want love.
Think of the biggest, baddest, toughest, non-loving person … they want faith. They really do. They want hope. Maybe hope in something different than God’s heart, but they want hope. And they want love. Drug dealers, their peons, and gang members, too, all long for love, acceptance and to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be loved, and for so many of them were born into conditions where they did not receive it in a healthy fashion in their early developmental stages of life.
There’s an innate sense in us to desire faith, hope and love; yet simultaneously there’s an urge to resist them. We want faith, but it just seems too “unbelievable” and there’s no tangible truth to it sometimes. We want hope, but find ourselves pessimistic and critical of circumstances. And we want love but know that in our core we struggle with loving and are fearful because we’ve been hurt. Faith, hope and love are almost choices as much as they are senses, or feelings. We choose to have faith, to hope and to love. They are verbs (well, faith isn’t, but you can work with me here). There’s action involved. Mental, emotional, spiritual, relational. In the midst of joy, pain, uncertainty, fear, perfect and impossible situations, we choose whether we have faith, whether we hope in the midst of the darkness and whether we love, deserved or not.
And yet, here comes Jesus on to the scene and in our minds, and he epitomizes faith, hope and love. He becomes the direct object of our faith, hope and love while also being the one who has faith in, hope in and loves us. He has faith in His presence within us, he has hope that we will finish the good fight (2 Tim. 4:7-8) and He loves us more than we know, circling us back to meditating on the faith and hope we yearn for and need. Jesus knows we are jacked up on our own, but he hopes so desperately that we’ll understand that even though we’re nothing without Him, we are everything with Him. And it all stems from His love. It’s why love is the greatest. Love breeds faith and hope.
I answered a call not long ago and someone simply said, “What’s the gospel?” I admit I was quite taken back. I mean, I’ve probably used that example more than a dozen times in classes, messages and conversations with others. I’ve said, “What if someone comes up and asks you what the gospel is; what would you say?” And it happened to me! Yet, given this opportunity, I blew it. I totally blew it. But I will never blow it again, I can promise that. She actually said after the question, I just became a Christian about 2-3 hours ago and I’m just curious what this word means that Christ-followers talk about.
Now, I pride myself for being passionate and anything but rote. I’m alive and have often seen a twist on the things that is right in front of people, helping them see something they’ve never seen. God’s gifted me that way. (I also have the gift of making simple things complex, but that’s a whole other issue). But when I answered her, I went into these facts. “Gospel means good news. We are sinners and deserve death. Jesus died for us so we can have eternal life. We need to believe and live a life in thanks and respond to his gift by obedience.” Her response I’ll probably never forget: “I thought it started and was all about: love.” Ouch. I felt so small. This 2 hour newborn Christian literally flips me upside down, me who is seminary trained, been a believer for almost 20 years, served at a church for almost a dozen . . . wow! Humbling. Disappointing. But I’m so thankful.
My answer was “technically” right, but the heart she heard, the Spirit that drew her to a relationship with the mighty God, she didn’t hear it in my factual answer. I missed it in that moment. I told her thank you and that I stand corrected. She was right – it is about love. I am thankful for the faith of this woman. I’m hopeful I wont blow it again. And I’m humbled by our Master’s love. Love that creates, redeems, smiles upon us, cries with us, hurts for us, listens to us, whispers in us, watches over us and yearns for time with us.
It’s about love. It starts and ends there. And in between those bookends of love exist faith and hope.