Musical Musings: "Let It Be" The Beatles

When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree,
there will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see,
there will be an answer. let it be.

Let it be, let it be, .....

And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light, that shines on me,
shine until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound of music, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, .....

This is a beautiful song, one I grew up hearing thanks to a mother who LOVED the Beatles. I once heard a friend play it on the piano, changing it from a vaguely Catholic song into a Protestant one (instead of Mother Mary, it was the Holy Spirit, if I recall the changes she made correctly).

If it were possible for The Beatle's music to experience a resurgence (if it ever lost popularity enough to need a resurgence), then certainly the film "Across The Universe" would help provide the momentum necessary for surge in popularity. For those unfamiliar with the film, it was directed by Julie Taymor (the woman responsible for the Broadway adaptation of Disney's "The Lion King") and is the story of a young man in 1960s America, told through the music of The Beatles. Jim Sturgess is Jude, and Evan Rachel Wood plays his Lucy.

In the film, this song is sung at the graveside of two different people; a young child killed in Detroit, and Lucy's boyfriend, killed in Vietnam. This song has always been beautiful; as a funereal anthem, it is stunning and moving, carrying a new weight. It is a plea for peace, both in our own hearts as we try to understand the seeming cruelty of life that would seize two young people with so much ahead of them, but in the larger sense of the world as a whole... for peace in place of war.

I am not Catholic by faith, and I don't believe that Mary, the mother of Jesus, provides guidance to me... that those who have walked the Earth come back to guide those still struggling our way through life. That said... the advice voiced through Mary here is excellent.

We all have questions; the heartbreak of life that raises doubts and uncertainties is common to us all. We ask ourselves the same thing: "If God is so loving, then why does He allow suffering. If good exists, then where is there good in the suffering of innocents? Why do the good die young?" There are more questions, more doubts, more uncertainties that plague us in the dark night of the soul, when we are at our most vulnerable. It is our nature to want answers to our questions, to want to understand why things are the way they are. We want to understand before we trust, to weigh our options before leaping in... faith is a hard muscle to exercise and use.

That's where this advice comes into play. You have questions you can't answer: Let them be. Let the questions remain; answers will come in time. Faith comes when you let the questions remain and trust that life is worth living, God really is good, and understanding will come as it is needed. When you don't understand why you must suffer, let it be. Trust that justice will be done, that wrongs won't go unanswered, and just let it be.

This is a prayer that God's will would be done, a declaration of faith, a plea for peace. It's the English translation of the Hebrew word "amen". Each time we end a prayer with Amen, we're invoking the Peace of God to transcend our problems, the Grace of God to overcome our weakness, the Justice of God to right our wrongs, and the Faith to survive it all, arriving safe into the arms of the God who can provide the answers we lack.

I don't understand it all. I can't provide adequate answers for why we suffer, why we lack, why injustices are done. I can't answer all your questions, and I can't understand all the mysteries of the faith (don't ask me to explain the trinity; I know it is, but I can't put it in words adequately). But I know I don't have to. I just have to let it be. I have to trust that my God has the answers I need... that in my long dark night of the soul, my God will come and whisper the words of wisdom I so desperately need.

Let it be. Let it be. There will be an answer... but for now, Let it be.


More Fun and YouTubage

I've discovered Jonathan Coulton. A friend at the Game Shop played Re: Your Brains, and when I went back to find it to play it for John, I found it had exploded all over YouTube. Wil Wheaton refrences it in his own blog, and in his TVSquad reviews for Star Trek: The Next Generation, making nerds everywhere squee in delight. (squee: to squeal, squeak, or make other noises of unabashed delight and excitement). (Side note: It seems Wil and I follow one of the same comics, a fact I discovered while looking through the archives to link to the specific JoCo references... I SWEAR I wasn't reading xkcd because Wil does... that would be just a bit too Trek Stalker, and I'm not THAT girl!)

I also found that he wrote the title music for Code Monkeys, a show John really enjoys and that pokes 8bit fun at the 80's early game developer culture (They aren't Atari, but they might as well be!)

Then, about a week ago, a friend sent me the youtube link for Still Alive, the closing song for the video game Portal. I have to say... I'm almost thinking that The Orange Box might be worth getting to get Portal and Still Alive. This, too, has exploded over You Tube, including this video, of a little robot seemingly created JUST to sing Still Alive. Further exploration introduced her older brother who loves to dance.

I've also been enjoying Weird Al's stuff on YouTube, too...

And that's not even all the memes I've seen blown up everywhere, but it's all I want to follow for now. And, as always, I am not responsible for the time you waste at YouTube, even if I was the one who pointed out cool videos there. :D

PS: Can anyone figure out how to litter this post with MORE links?

I feel fantastic and I'm Still Alive!


There's a difference

There's a difference between obeying out of fear of the law and walking in faith of the grace.

There are those who do what they do in life because that's what you do. They view salvation as a sort of fire insurance. They wouldn't admit it, but the there's a certain amount of fear in their obedience to the law, as though if they do enough good, if they are obedient enough, then God will forgive them of their sins and let them into heaven (or, and forgive me the offense, my dearly, DEARLY beloved Catholic friends) out of purgatory. They live their lives in obedience because of fear of the law, and the consequences of disobedience, even unconsciously.

And then there's the other way. There's what I aim for, though I know I often miss. Walking in faith of the grace. What does that mean? What's the difference?

For me, walking in faith of the grace is yes, obedience when I don't feel obedient. But instead of being afraid of what would happen if I weren't obedient, instead of obeying because that's what you do, or to keep my scale balanced, I opt for something different. I am obedient because I am convinced that the grace I've been promised in reward is far far better than any fleeting percieved reward know. It's in recognition that obedience has produced rewards otherwise unimaginable, and it's built my faith in His ability to keep His promises.

We all face trials in life, and we come out of them in one of three ways. We can be delivered from the trial, and not have to face it. This builds our faith, because we see prayers answered. We can be delivered through them, as Shadrach, Meshac, and Abednego were (or, better, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael, as they were named to honor the God who spared them). They faced a fire so hot it killed the guards charged with throwing them in, and walked out of it, with neither scorch marks or even the SMELL of smoke. This tests our faith; can we have the faith that He will keep our promises, or even, as they said, as Job said, "Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him." Or we can be delivered by the trial into the arms of God, completing our faith, perfecting it in the ultimate act of grace (Thanks Beth Moore for this idea). Yes, we are dead in this life... but if we had faith in God and in His gift of grace, then we can conceive that we've not lost anything.

Obedience in fear of the law may accomplish good things, but it is imperfect. Perfect love casts out fear... so we can't operate in fear to reach perfection. Walking in faith of the grace that's promised eliminates the fear. It allows victory, it allows perfect love... It's grace. The amazing thing? When you walk in faith of promised grace, you leave room for grace to be poured out upon you, building your faith in future outpourings of grace. You get the grace you need to experience victory over whatever requires obedience now.

Yes, I obey even when I don't feel like it. I obey because I've experienced the grace I need to experience victory. Walking in faith builds faith and is powered by and rewarded with grace.

Maybe I've talked in circles. Maybe it makes no sense to you. But I understand, and beloved, I choose freedom. I choose to exercise my faith like a muscle, and delight in the victory.

Which will you do? There's a difference... in why, and what results you recieve. But then... there's a difference when your name's been written in the Lamb's Book of Life.

Musical Musings: Nichole Nordeman "Brave"


The gate is wide
The road is paved in moderation
The crowd is kind and
quick to pull you in
Welcome to the middle ground
You're safe and sound and
Until now it's where I've been
'Cause it's been fear that
ties me down to everything
But it's been love,
Your love, that cuts the strings

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

I am small
And I speak when I'm spoken to
But I am willing to risk it all
I say Your name
Just Your name and
I'm ready to jump
Even ready to fall...

Why did I take this vow of compromise?
Why did I try to keep it all inside?

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

I've never known a fire
that didn't begin with a flame
Every storm will start
with just a drop of rain
But if you believe in me
That changes everything
So long, I'm gone

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
I wanna be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

OK, really, who didn't see this coming? Seriously? After I talked about making the choice not to be locked in by fear following a nearly-disasterous near-accident, you couldn't tell that Brave was going to be done in short order? We need spend more time together; you clearly don't know me well enough. ;)

Once I could turn the repeat off of "River God", I went for more songs that would help calm, soothe, and yes, build me up. I started with "Finally Free", and considered blogging that, but kept listening while I caught up on my Sunday morning comic strips. I opted for "Brave", choosing it intentionally when the computer started playing "Is It Any Wonder", which, though it is a good song, wasn't quite what I needed this morning. Now it's the one on repeat while I blog, and while I can't be certain, I think I might be brave enough to drive my own car home... choosing not to be a prisoner of fear may have thrown the bars wide open for me.

Now, I'll grant that Nichole isn't talking about bravery in deciding to drive after an almost accident. In fact, when she sings "Why did I take this vow of compromise" I kept hearing "foul compromise"... rather stronger language that she used, but no less than it deserves.

Christ, in Revelation, speaks of us being neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm. He asks us to be one or the other. I did a study by Beth Moore, and she explained that the location of Laodicea, the church He addresses here in Rev 4: 14-22 is spoken to in rather surprising (for us) detail. You see, Laodicea is equidistant between the cold water of the Mediterranean and Hot Springs... so that the water that they had in Laodicea was neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm, and useless for anything special.

I discuss all that to ask this: How often to do we settle, or worse, aim, for mediocrity? We look for some middle ground that isn't dangerous, that pleases all sides. Why? Because we perceive it as safe. Now, excuse the strong language, but to Hell with that idea! No, really... I mean that literally! Christ wasn't safe; He was radical! Look at the Sermon on the Mount. Not just "do not murder" but "don't even hate your brother!" Not, "don't touch her," but "don't even think about thinking about touching her!" Christ teaches things that were radical in his day: men and women as equals, Jews and Gentiles as equals, Slaves and Free as equal, and all deserving of the same salvation. Look at what He tells us when we start to follow him: We will have no where to lay our head, we must leave all we have, and if we look back, we're not fit for the Kingdom. Where is there a middle ground in "Be perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect"?

You want to be like Christ? Christ was radical. You want to be like Christ? Christ was unlike any other. You want to be like Christ? Christ was stoned in his own hometown and hung on a cross. There's no room for cowards if you're going to be like Christ. You want to walk His walk? You want to be shaped by Him and made new? You have to be Brave.

But you know what? Christ is worth it. He demands our sense of security be surrendered, and replaces it with the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. He demands our lives on earth and gives us eternity. He asks us to surrender to give us the Victory.

So long status quo! I think I just let go! You make me want to be brave! The way it always was is no longer good enough You make me want to be brave! If you believe in me, that changes everything! So long! I'm gone!

Do you want to be brave for a change?

River God

I just blogged on this one last night, and here I am with it on repeat on the laptop, listening to it over and over again. It's very soothing, and at the moment, soothing is what I need. It reminds me that God's hand is in everything, and while our choices may take us contrary to His will, He won't let us go where He can't reach.

I took John to the airport, and by that, I mean I rode while he drove, so that I could drive the car home afterwards. I hadn't even gotten 5 miles from the airport when I hit a slick spot on the roads; there was enough rain to lift the oil from the pavement, but not enough to wash it completely away, so it was at that dangerously slick stage roads reach sometimes. I spun out, doing about 360 degrees of rotation over about 100 yards, on an entrance ramp raised high above traffic...

I didn't hit anything, or anyone, and physically, I am unharmed. I figured out that the car had stalled out (after sitting, trembling, on the outer curve of this curved over-pass ramp for several minutes while I tried to gather my thoughts) and restarted it, finally getting it moving. I started towards home and just wanted somewhere to pull over and calm down, but as I got off the highway, I hit another slick spot and lost traction again. I didn't spin this time, but it was just one more peice of alarming than I could handle. I pulled into the gas station across the way and sat there, trembling, figuring out who I could call on a Sunday Morning to come and help me get home. I found someone, and she came and drove me home; we'll go back in a few hours to get my car. I thought of calling her back, and saying I could drive home, but the more I thought of the idea of driving, the less fond of it I was... the more I trembled.

I'm home now, waiting for church to be over (she offered to take me to church, but all I want right now is to have a good cry and take a little nap) so that I can go with her and her 15 year old to pick up the car. I found I needed music to calm the savage beast of fear that is roaring in my head and chest... and the sweet, simple, haunting echoes of this song seemed perfect.

This is an opportunity. Will I thank my God for keeping me safe through my stupidity (I should have been going slower; I might not have spun out quite so badly if I hadn't hit the slick as fast as I did, though for the life of me, I have no idea how fast I was driving), or will I curse Him for scaring me like that? Will I take the opportunity to learn something and move forward, or will I stay locked in the patterns of fear, unable to progress, trapped in the prison that, just like my father died in a car accident, I will too? Will I accept this incident as an opportunity to be smoothed by my River God, polished to a sheen by the events of life, change my habits, or will I see it as yet another thing taken from me, see it as a flaw, a fatal crack in who I am?

I think you can guess... I do thank my God for keeping me and my car safe. I will eventually even try driving it again (maybe even as soon as when we go to pick it up) and will use this experience to help me become a better driver. After all, little stones are smoothed only when the River passes through. I would be a little smoother in God's hand... and live my life in the victory He says is mine.

You know, writing this has been immensly helpful... I'm calmer and more collected already. Thank you, God, for Your mercies that are new every morning.


Musical Musings: Nichole Nordeman, "River God"

River God

Rolling River God
Little Stones are smooth
Only once the water passes through
So I am a stone
rough and grainy still
Trying to reconcile this river's chill

But when I close my eyes
and feel you rushing by
I know that time brings change
and change takes time
And when the sunset comes
my prayer would be this one
that you might pick me up
and notice that I am
just a little smoother in your hand

Sometimes raging wild
sometimes swollen high
never have I known this river dry
The deepest part of You
is where I want to stay
and feel the sharpest edges wash away

And when I close my eyes
and feel you rushing by
I know that time brings change
and change takes time
And when the sunset comes
my prayer would be just one
that you might pick me up
and notice that I am
just a little smoother in your hand

Rolling River God
Little Stones are smooth
Only once the water passes through

This song opens with a haunting piano solo, and it took me some time to understand the lyrics. I was already in love with it though; the simple melody that is echoed repeatedly through the song really sticks with me. It makes me wish that I'd had the opportunity to learn to play the piano when I was younger, and more able to learn... and that I would take the time now.

I like this comparison of God to a river; I've made a similar comparison of God to an ocean before. It's not that He is changeable, as an ocean or a river, but rather an acknowledgement of His power in seemingly insiginificant manifestations. By itself, water can seem tame, powerless. But there is great power in that water, power to erode and change, to carve great canyons, to move glaciers, to smoothe stones in its course.

I also like the idea that the changes brought into our lives as God is shaping and changing us to look like the perfect, glorified versions He sees us as isn't necessarily the most pleasant to us. I've spoken of the Terrible Mercy of God in the past. We want to avoid pain, we want to avoid discomfort, and the idea that we might have to go through some terrible things to get to where God would have us, well, it's not exactly popular, is it? And yet, we were promised that hard times would come, that trials and temptations would come. That's why we were given the Comfortor, the Earnest of God to seal us to himself. That's what refinement is all about... burning away the dross, the waste, and leaving only the precious, valuable, usable material behind. That's what pruning is about... cutting away the old to make room for new growth. That's what surgery is about; removing the dead and decaying to allow for health and life to flourish. That's what polishing a stone is about; chipping away what doesn't belong, polishing out the imperfections and making it shine like a gem.

Sometimes, dare I say oftentimes, the Mercy of a Perfect God is terrible to human eyes. It is the arrow of God, the single son in His quiver, The Word of God that is a two-edged sword, cutting the division between joint and marrow, cutting away all the rot and hurt and filth that we've allowed to persist within us, until he binds us with his own garment to make us whole in Him. We are the stone, tossed and tumbled in the raging river, tumbling through life, wondering what purpose it serves, questioning the pain we feel as our rough edges are broken off of us.

That's what makes Nichole's prayer in the chorus so poignant and beautiful to me. She comes to a place where she knows that this hurt today is leading to the glory of God tomorrow. When the time comes for the Father to pluck her out of the river of life, the River that is God will have taken his time to smooth her, to shine her, to make her worthy of Him. This is naming it and claiming it, not in the popular pentecostal sense of the idea, but in a demonstration of biblically solid faith. We will not all sleep, but behold, we shall ALL be changed.

Rolling River God, roll over me. The only way to smooth me, to mold me and make me whom you have for me to be, is to be caught in the currents. I would be smoother, Lord, when you hold me in your hand... so roll on, Rolling River God. Roll.

Nichole, thank you for the gift you've given in your music. It is a pure and simple joy to meditate on your lyrics and what they say about the Truth of God... it is a delight to find another way to express the Truth He is tattooing on my soul, the beauty and glory He is revealing as He chips away everything in me that hides His glory. Thank you, Nichole, for sharing your gift. Our King speaks through the words you write. If I never see you again on this side of eternity, it will be my pleasure to kneel before the throne of God with you, singing endless praise to our eternally worthy God.