HOW HE LOVES

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had this habit of getting a song stuck in my head and singing it over and over and over again. It borders on obsessive. For the life of me, I can’t stop singing it.

Thankfully, I generally keep my singing to myself or otherwise I’d drive the people around me crazy. (More crazy?)

This morning my youngest son caught me singing a line from my current favorite song and said, “Are you obsessed with that song?” There was an edge to his voice bordering on annoyance.

The kid is ten! Is it that obvious?

I might need help. Is there a recovery group for people like me? How about a patch? Do I need an intervention?

I get absolutely hooked on a song.

I am not much of a musician or a singer. Truth be told, I can’t even clap and sing at the same time for much longer than three or four measures. It’s pitiful.

I think musicians are amazing. I have a particular admiration for drummers and guitar players. Good vocalists are pretty impressive too, especially female singers with a raw, smokey texture to their sound. (Think Stevie Nicks.)

All of that to say, I really love great music. From rock to classical, I can listen to just about everything but rap, hip-hop and country. Seventies rock is still my favorite.

So….every once in awhile I hear a song I really like. I’m a sucker for a catchy tune more so than great words. Add a cool guitar lick, a driving bass line and a rockin’ drum solo and the next thing you know the song is finding it’s way into that part of the brain that creates crack addicts.

Three weeks later I might be found coming out of my new-favorite-song love coma. But only after I have completely worn it out from a million listens.

Am I the only person who does this?

Two weeks ago I stumbled across a song I’ve heard before, but this time was different. I have since listened to it well over one hundred times. I can’t get this song out of my head. I’ve always liked this song but a few day’s ago it became my newest obsession.

A visit to YouTube and the next thing you know I am snorting the song right out of the vial. There’s the David Crowder version, the Hillsong United version, the Jared Anderson version and countless other bands and vocalists who have covered the same song. I’d love to hear a version by Coldplay. When Stevie Nicks announces the release of her cover of the song, I’m the first in line camping in a tent outside the music store.

However, the version of the song that I completely mainlined behind closed doors there in the privacy of my office was performed by Kim Walker with the Jesus Culture band. To date, it has over four million views. It’s possible that over half of those hits are from my laptop within the last two weeks.

Man, I’m telling you. When that first guitar solo starts moaning in the agony from which the song rises, I am catatonic.

Most people assume that the song was written by David Crowder. He’s the one who seems to have really made it popular. However, it was actually written by a guy named John Mark McMillan. I stumbled across a video telling the story of how the song came to be written and began to understand why it was so powerful for me.

The song was composed in a raw and honest time of deep grief when the writer lost a close friend in a tragic car accident. I know these feelings.

And then there are the words. They’re like city lights that have grown fuzzy in your stare. They’re mesmerizing. I can’t pull myself out of their grip. I am hypnotized.

Again and again and again I sing them.

"Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy."

Last week I was in some tremendous need of mercy. The temptations that hold the strongest grip in my life were screaming for my affections. I was fighting as hard as I could. Like scenes from the Civil War, the tide of the battle was going back and forth like wheat in a wind from everywhere. One hour I was prevailing. Another I was just failing.

The words to my obsession would breath life back into my soul. I needed gale force mercy last week.

"If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking."

This is THE line. The one I couldn’t get off of Repeat in my brain. Over and over again it kept cycling through my psyche.

Without an ocean of God’s grace to sink in last week, I would be have been in a desert place. Arid, barren, cracked, hot, gulping for air like a fish in a dried up water hole.

Again and again I was reminded that God’s grace is ocean-esque. Thankfully, I was exhausted by God’s inexhaustible grace.

Honestly. I finished last week feeling very tired in my spirit from the struggle I had endured. My favorite new song kept me from being completely overwhelmed. It was so nice to worship together with my church family last weekend and know that I had made it another week. This week would be new opportunity to sink in an ocean of God’s grace.

"Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss."

McMillan’s original words are a bit more vivid than the “unforeseen kiss” lyric other versions have adopted. I am more of a sloppy wet kiss kind of guy. I get that one. The other seems a bit too theologically starchy for me. I feel like it was adapted to better suit the people who always complain that the music is too loud. I don’t much care for preacher-speak.

If you’ve ever been kissed by an infant who is simply doing what she has seen others do, its sloppy wet. If your dog eagerly greets you at the door when you come home in the evening, its sloppy wet. If you have ever closely held a deeply hurting person who is past worrying about what others think or what they look like at the moment, its sloppy wet.

Last week, I watched a dear friend sob over the casket of his dearly loved wife of fifty-three years. It was sloppy wet.

I get that.

There’s been some moments in my life, in those most private and broken feelings of anger or sadness, that I have screamed out to God with tears and snot running down my face because I am beyond caring about what it might look like, sound like, feel like if I were to be brutally honest with Him. And all I get back is sloppy wet.

I think when we get past theology and actually experience the intersection of heaven and earth, its sloppy wet. If you don’t feel your faith now and then, it just might be a religion.

"I don’t have time to maintain these regrets…"

It seemed that all I could do last week was hold out hope that the next week would be a new one. For me, Sundays tend to bring a close to the previous week and a start to the one ahead. I really needed to leave last week far behind. Seeing it in the rearview mirror was a good thing.

And to spend one more minute rehearsing last week regretting my failures only mocks the outrageous love of God. I really don’t have the time.

"…when I think of the way He loves us."

I wish with all the theology I have under my belt that I could better understand the love of God. I keep getting performance and perfection mixed up in it all.

At this point in the blog, writers better than I would have some profound insight into the love of God to share with their readers. All I got is that I really still do not fully comprehend the love of God for me. And because it is beyond the reach of my words, it brings me to tears every time I hear its strains in the chorus of my new favorite song. Over and over again, the more I think about God’s love the clearer I see that I will never be able to fully grasp the scope of its capacity.

That’s what I love about God’s love. Like the ocean, it has no end.

I take some consolation in the fact that my line-from-a-song obsession just might be biblical. I read Psalm 136 and take note of the fact that every verse ends with exactly same words. Twenty-six times the Psalmist concludes “His love endures forever.” Again and again and again he sings his obsession with God’s enduring love.

1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.
4 to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.

5 who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever.
6 who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever.
7 who made the great lights—His love endures forever.
8 the sun to govern the day, His love endures forever.
9 the moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever.
10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt, His love endures forever.

11 and brought Israel out from among them, His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm; His love endures forever.
13 to him who divided the Red Sea asunder, His love endures forever.

14 and brought Israel through the midst of it, His love endures forever.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea; His love endures forever.
16 to him who led his people through the wilderness;
His love endures forever.
17 to him who struck down great kings, His love endures forever.

18 and killed mighty kings—His love endures forever.
19 Sihon king of the Amorites His love endures forever.
20 and Og king of Bashan— His love endures forever.
21 and gave their land as an inheritance, His love endures forever.
22 an inheritance to his servant Israel. His love endures forever.
23 He remembered us in our low estate,
His love endures forever.
24 and freed us from our enemies. His love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every creature. His love endures forever.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.

Sound a bit obsessive if you ask me. Who does that kind of thing?