I Love Rock n' Roll - Hearing Him in the Music
Updated: Oct 8, 2018
Most moments in life can be defined by a song or were defined by a particular song. You can be transported back to a specific time in your life with just one verse; almost as if we have a personal soundtrack. Music is a powerful dynamic weapon used in many ways and I believe healing is by far the most powerful way of them all.
The small rectangular room was a welcome retreat with a wall of windows letting the warm sunlight in; thawing us out from the constant blow of the A/C. We had to keep adjusting the old dial radio with a broken antennae to get reception. Several young girls, some as young as sixteen, were spread out on the floor coloring whimsical designs while singing in harmony to the song on the radio. My roommate laid on the couch, head resting on the arm, with knees bent and eyes closed. She sang with a hushed tone, but her voice sounded as sweet as honey. The “Chef” sat across the room from me staring out the window. On occasion she would look up and crack a joke. I spent my last few hours there, slumped back in a well-worn green upholstered chair attempting to sing.
We sang along to the radio for hours, breaking to giggle every now and then when one of us would try to hit that high note like nobody’s business. An absolute surreal feeling of peace encapsulated that tiny room as the music provided a temporary release for our captive minds. I wouldn’t trade those last few hours for anything, surrounded by a group of broken young women fighting through the healing process.
Humans were given the gift of music from the beginning. The history of music stems from prehistoric times, first known as primitive music with the voice being the main musical instrument. The Biblical history of music starts in the Old Testament with a man named, Jubal – the inventor of musical instruments. (Gen. 4:21) Then skip to the New Testament where the Hebrews are given much of the credit for the cultivation of music. The period of Samuel, David, and Solomon is known as the Golden Age of Hebrew Music. This period is when music first became systematically refined and it was an essential part of training in the school of the prophets (1 Sam. 10:5). The public music school believed to be led by the prophet Samuel, taught not only prophets and holy men, but also sacred-rite musicians, such as David. 1
From birth to death, lullabies to funerals; music has had an impact on your life. It’s our universal language that transcends borders. Most artists that hit the radios are known world-wide, especially now with the global reach of the internet. Michael Jackson’s, Thriller, alone has sold over 110 million copies across the globe. Heck, I once danced to Thriller while on a trip to South America. We use music for celebrations, to get pumped up cheering on our Alma Mater, our first dance as a married couple, saying goodbye to a loved one, and just plain entertainment with music festivals gathering thousands at a time. Those recorded mixed tapes came in handy during teenage make-out sessions back in the 80’s and 90’s. I guess a digital playlist takes care of that now, but it’s still not quite the same!
Rock music was the very first thing my future husband and I bonded over during our early dating years. On the night we met at a small New Year’s Eve gathering, the boys were playing the popular rock music of the time. As I sang along knowing all the lyrics by heart, that young boy looked at me slack-jawed and said, “I didn’t know girls like you listened to this kind of music.” So many days after that were spent at his house listening to music and watching him strum his yellow guitar playing the likes of Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Nirvana to name a few.
Music is used for comfort and then it’s also used for warfare. The US Army used psychological warfare on a repressive military leader, Noriega, in Panama back in 1989 to lure him out of hiding in the Vatican’s embassy. A fleet of Humvees mounted with loud speakers rolled in blaring rock favorites from Guns ‘N’ Roses to Van Halen for three days straight.2 The US Marines deployed Metallica and Thin Lizzy on the front lines in Afghanistan back in 2010.3 God brought down the walls of Jericho when Joshua and the Israelites blew trumpets of rams’ horns and shouted. (Joshua 6:14-15) I often think it would be funny if God used a great children’s version of “Yes, Jesus Loves Me” stuck on replay during the battle of Armageddon. Maybe throw in some “Kumbaya” too.
We use music to worship and speak to God and He uses music to communicate with us. He doesn’t just use gospel and worship music though. His voice can be found in all genres stretching across the continents. From rock n’ roll to classical, definitely the blues, country, and anything in between; he’s been using the work and talents of musicians from the beginning of time. Johnny Cash was prophesying through his music since the 1950s. Maren Morris got it right when she wrote the lyrics to My Church; “but I find holy redemption when I put this car in drive, roll the windows down and turn up the dial.” And I think Eric Church is a straight-up truth singer of our day.
Quite a few members of hard core rock bands have found Jesus in recent years and now use their platforms to spread a message to fans of their genre, reaching many youth. Many bands through their lyrics and videos are spreading awareness about the crisis that our veterans are living through, many of whom live on the streets. Even though this music may seem the complete opposite of holy, these bands are raising funds to combat and spread awareness about things like the opioid epidemic in our country, the ever increasing homeless population, and the dark world of slavery.
Musicians through their poetic lyrics can give us a glimpse of what it feels like to live in the shadows taking us on a short trip through the emotions of depression, loneliness, despair, pain, and anger. Often these songs, though they may seem dark, can teach us how to relate to and share the burdens of our lost brothers and sisters, our lonely neighbors, and our suffering friends and family members so that we can help them find their song of redemption. Many of the popular Christian songs now sing of hard times, but then they swing you towards the light.
It’s ironic that my love of many genres of music, especially rock, was the root of the first time I received judgment bestowed upon me from a well-intentioned Christian – a good friend back then. At the time I attended a youth group at my friend’s church. The Pentecostal denomination was quite different from my Catholic upbringing, but I was game for anything. To be honest, I only went with her because a couple of hot guys also attended, especially one in particular that had an SS Camaro. (I was also into fast cars.) One day, while driving down the road, my friend reached up and turned the dial to the Christian station. She then proceeded to tell me now that I had become a Christian, I should listen to worship music and drop the rock. She then received the left arched eyebrow expression that either means I am intrigued or just plain perturbed with the latter being the case this time. I muttered “uh – huh,” as I turned it back to my station and left it that.
Common courtesy says you don't change the radio station mid-song. That could have been my current favorite jam. The fallacy came from an inaccurate assumption and the use of the word 'now'. Assuming that I was now a Christian, because I had attended some youth sessions and a couple of services at her church was far from the truth. I had been Jesus’ girl for a long time before then and He is the reason that I learned how to love myself that year after many adolescent years of ridicule. She assumed that I needed to be anyone other than myself. That I needed to follow a set of rules defined by her church to know the forgiveness of Jesus, to feel the love of the Father, and to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. He already knew my heart friend. I hadn’t fallen to the dark side. I was listening to artists singing about the rawness of real life with a beat I preferred to others. Asking trumps assuming every time.
Legend, Pat Boone, experienced an ousting of sorts from the Church of Christ when he covered rock music for an album. The Christian Community was shocked to say the least. Boone is recorded saying, “There wasn’t anything wrong with it. It was just a different style.”4 Just recently I read an article about a Catholic Priest in Western Kenya, affectionately known as “Sweet Paul” because he raps so sweet, suspended for a year because of rapping at service. The Bishop wanted “to give him time to reconsider his ways.” Never mind that his lyrics were pure and he was bringing more youth to the church. The congregants and nuns had no problem with it as they swayed to the beat. But the leaders stated that “secular and sacred could not be mixed.”5 Well if that is the case, then why has the Pope made many secular decisions in recent years? He’s not the only one, the leaders of many denominations are doing the same thing. But our society tends to not compare apples to apples anymore.
We often forget as conservative church-goers with our radios properly turned to the worship station (especially on Sundays as we pull into the church parking lot), that our Limitless God will use all means – extraordinary and ordinary to reach His children. There’s got to be a reason why God trained His prophets in music. For me personally, there’s been many times when just the right song came on at the exact moment needed, whether it was in the car or in the background music at the grocery store. And immediately I knew that coincidence doesn’t speak to me like that, but He sure does.
So you will find me preaching from the books of many a song, because I have personally experienced the gift of healing by the power of Jesus through music! And I hope for music to be a gift of healing for you too.
Just Some Jams
Just had to with this one, I Love Rock n’ Roll by Joan Jett. This song is forever associated in my memory with a trip to New Orleans.
Christian Rock Band, Third Day, gets it with this song -- I Need A Miracle. They hit it right on the head of how Jesus can use music to remind you of his presence.
Sing For Him
In the car, at church, outside, on your walk or run, in the shower, by yourself, with others… Just sing! You have no idea the feelings that you can work through, the happiness that will ooze out of your soul, and the connection you will feel until you sing for Him! You don’t have to be perfect or in tune – He loves you just the way you are. Otherwise, He would have broken my car radio a while ago!
“Sing a new song to the Lord! Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!" Psalm 96:1
1 “History of Music.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 25 June 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_music.
2 “Music Torture: How Heavy Metal Broke Manuel Noriega.” BBC News, BBC, 30 May 2017, www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-40090809.
3 WhatCulture. “9 Shocking Times Music Was Used As A Military Weapon.” WhatCulture.com, WhatCulture.com, 29 Aug. 2015, whatculture.com/music/9-shocking-times-music-was-used-as-a-military-weapon?page=2.
4 “Pat Boone Recalls Shocking the Christian Community.” Fox News, FOX News Network, video.foxnews.com/v/5800769165001/.
5 Gearty, Robert. “'Rapper Priest' Suspended by Catholic Church in Kenya.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 25 June 2018, www.foxnews.com/world/2018/06/25/rapper-priest-suspended-by-catholic-church-in-kenya.html.