I have a natural affinity for Southern Gospel music. True, there is some underlying history there, but the fact is, if I’m gonna spend an hour and half listening to music, it’s not gonna include a song titled, “Don’t let the sandals fool ya.” Just being perfectly honest. Living in the deep south this poses a bit of problem as apparently it is the commonly selected entertainment for church homecomings…in fact, if you have more than five Saints in your church over the age of sixty, chances are you’re going to come face to face with a gospel singin’. And, yes, it’s a singin’ or a sangin’ depending how far in the country you go to hear said music.
It can be nasally and twangy and yet, oddly enough for many it is still considered hand clapping, foot stomping, hand raising good entertainment. Once a year is about my limit. And amazingly, God has given me two occasions in one week to bear witness to this Southern phenomenon. But, before I get accused of being calloused and cruel, let me get to my point. Whether or not I like it, doesn’t matter…God is still using it to channel His message to His people, young and old, town or country.
I don’t have to enjoy something to hear the word of God in it. I don’t have to listen with raptured interest to the bass as he belts out a verse that is almost too low to catch it’s meaning, but when he starts to speak the name of Jesus…there is a power in his words and his voice that without that element would cease to exist. I don’t squeal with delight when the tenor passionately sings what I feel to be unnatural octaves far above any man’s range about the Living Water. I don’t get chill bumps at the end of the song when four men pair up in four part harmony so that you don’t know where one voice ends and the other begins, but I do appreciate their excitement for what they do to bring worship to their Lord. I may not like the music, but I believe the message.
I’m also not crazy about Screamo or Heavy Metal, or Grunge rock, or Hard Rock or any other veneration of the word “Rock” that they have come up with in the last ten years and I have not been privy to. But, I know that God has touched hearts that do, and He will continue to use that form of music to impart a message of peace and redemption in a world of chaos and shame. It’s not about what I like, it’s about what they’ll listen to, and God is a great respecter of persons…He really does know what we like and tries to meet us with a message in a method that we will actually listen to.
A few years ago I read, “90 Minutes in Heaven” by Don Piper. There are many things that have fancied my imagination about that book, but something that I find fascinating and look forward to experiencing first hand, is the fact that heaven is filled with music…all kinds, all genres, blended in perfect harmony reflecting praise and honor for the King. Can you imagine? Heaven, the place where Brian “Head” Welch and Demon Hunter play simultaneously with the Gaither’s and classical music!? But, I believe it is true. Because it is the message that the heart hears; it is the message that blesses God…and that message can come from a man or woman covered in tattoos singing out of a skull shaped microphone or it can resonate in four part harmony with a Southern twang or echo through the fingers of musicians the world over, who long to impart the message and hope of Christ with the gifts that they’ve been given! Beautiful, amazing grace…that finds us…everyone.