Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Soul's Back Door

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A New Mexico friend, Bill Johnson, is one of 14 children. He told us he overheard his dad say many times, “While I fought to keep the wolf away from the front door, the stork slipped in the back.”

In that context, the back door referenced things happening without much notice. Rick Larsen, presenter of “The Star of Bethlehem” DVD, made a similar statement about the soul having a backdoor. He saw how music moves folks toward God when usual cautions, teachings, and taps on the front door of the soul failed.

Anne Lamott tells how she was drawn to belief through spiritual hymns. She grew up in a family and neighborhood of atheists, however, at least one on her street did believe in God. In the intellectual atmosphere, Christians were deemed ignorant to cast their lots with “God” who could not be seen.

At an early age Ms. Lamott’s life went south, pushed low by personal behavior and drug addictions. Later in adulthood, confused, she walked each Sunday morning, trying to sort out her life.

On those Sundays, she strolled past a church—its doors open. The music spilled out onto the soiled sidewalks and dirty pavement. For weeks, she heard the strains of sweet music, but resisted the melodies.

Finally, she allowed herself to listen, to walk slowly as she passed by the open doors. She even began to linger at the door, not daring to go inside. But soon the words and melodies stroked a chord in her heart like no other, and a friendly hand of a member beckoned her to come on in, have a seat.

She told how God had tapped on her front door in childhood, but as an adult, God first got her attention through music—through the soul backdoor. If you’ve read Ms. Lamott’s works or followed her lectures, her politics and views on some moral issues are controversial. But, her belief in Jesus Christ is obvious, germinated by strains of music drifting from a church house.

The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus about the discipline of singing and making melodies in their “hearts to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). These past few weeks, I've been singing--a song of praise each day. Sometimes, it’s spontaneous. Sometimes it’s planned with a hymnal, shape notes, and lyrics in hand.

Some of the songs my grandmothers sang, some are new praise music. Which soul door did they enter when I first heard them? I don’t know, but I’ve learned this, when I sing a song, it airs out my soul. A sweet breeze flows through like none other.

Minister Robert Culp says, “Music invites us out of isolation and into the fellowship of the saints. It also draws us from self-centeredness and into God-centeredness.”

In solitude, sing a song to the Lord each day this week, one for his ears alone. And, listen for the creaking of door hinges.

“Music is God's gift to man, the only art of Heaven given to earth, the only art of earth we take to Heaven,” Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864).

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