Our worship team meeting was phenomenal this month. Mike addressed the issue of music, and of discerning carefully what we choose to listen to. He talked about how all music has a spirit on it — in other words, all music affects us in our inner man. There’s a broad spectrum of works that have been composed through history, from the very godly and anointed (I’m thinking of Handel’s “Messiah”), to the extremely dark and demonic (I’m thinking of blatantly Satanic death-metal), and everything in between. We need to discern what our music is doing to our hearts. Whether it has clean lyrics, or even a Christian label, is not the question. The question is whether it helps or hinders us as we try to pray and fellowship with the Lord at all times.
I also really appreciated when Mike and Misty encouraged us as musicians not to study secular bands to find out what kind of music is cool, cutting-edge, or professional sounding. Our fallen world should not be setting our musical standard. Our God is a better, more creative musician than anyone else in the universe; we should be asking Him to teach us. We should be receiving inspiration from heaven — not the latest top 40 artist.
I loved hearing this concerning the music. Obviously, this is a crucial thing at our house of prayer, since we are a 24/7 prayer and worship center. However, as I listened, my brain jumped to another area that has been a long-standing issue of annoyance for me: poetry.
I remember being 11 years old or so when my children’s pastor informed my mom that I could never be a really good writer unless I got out and experienced the world a little. As a young, relatively sheltered homeschooler, this well-meaning lady figured I could have nothing worth writing about until I had expanded my horizons. Apparently, if I was to really get anywhere with my poetry, I would have to experience a bit of the drama of the world.
I also remember thinking at the time that what she was proposing sounded like a really dumb idea. I was already recognizing that my best poetry was when I wrote about God.
Fast forward about ten years. Just recently, I went to the library with a friend. She had some specific books she wanted to check out, and I was tagging along to hang out. As she set off like a woman on a mission, I wandered around to the poetry section, deciding to browse through some of their classic works and see what the “real poets,” the big names of poetic history, had to say.
I have read few other things that were so incredibly disturbing. I looked at several different authors, and nearly all of them were varying shades of dark. It didn’t take me very long to feel really creeped out and put the books back.
Now there were many amazing poets back in the day who glorified God in their work. My point is that there are also many authors who are renowned through generations for their poetic genuis who do not have anything to offer me that I care to catch. I don’t care if they had flawless meter and brilliant metaphors if it means I get my spirit defiled in order to read it. What good is a mastery of language when it’s given to serve carnal philosophical, demonic, or self-glorifying purposes? How commendable is a skilled wordsmith who drags all their readers into their own perosnal abyss? If excellent poetry is consumed with a godless despondancy, is it really excellent?
God is not only the best musician around, but He is also the greatest poet. I’m thinking that if I need to get inspired for poetry, I would be doing a whole lot better reading the Psalms, Proverbs, and Prophets, than the writings of some extremely disturbed (and probably clinically insane) dead guy. I’m all for learning from people who know what they’re doing, but not at the cost of a dull heart. We should not look to the great masters as our ceiling. We should look beyond them and aim at the heavens. There’s a higher call than dark, unhealthy introspection. There’s a God who is greater than all the inner turmoil ever recorded on paper.
I want what I write to be full of light — the Light, the true Light who shines in the darkness. Whether the poem is joyful or intense, whether it is about soaring in the heavens or about crying out from the pit, the last place I want to turn people’s gaze is at their own navels. I love a beautiful God who deserves the affections of the nations, and I eagerly desire that my weak words may help fuel that in any way possible.