Earlier in the year we introduced you all to The Influence Commons. As a Network we want to give our members a chance to use their voice. We put out a call for pitches and today we are sharing the first piece written by one of our very own. We hope to share a new piece each week, so if you’re thinking about sending a pitch, don’t hesitate! Don’t forget that we plan on hosting a writer’s retreat and workshop in 2018. We’ll offer 3 scholarship positions chosen from the submissions on The Influence Commons.
If you ask Jesus to spiritually wreck you — He will do more than you know. I used to believe I knew about Jesus, until this past Easter drew near. I had the knowledge of him, but the personal seemed to be amiss, especially when it came to salvation and redemption for myself. I struggled to understand, but He knew where to find me. Music is the greatest vessel He used.
I grew up with musicians, with dreamers and studious scholars. My mom’s side was all about breaking out the guitars, the ukulele, a banjo, a mandolin and singing. They would serenade their loved ones, to simply pass the time and create a community, or simply to be still. Music made me feel close, feel a part of something bigger than myself. I was able to have a voice as a child, chiming into the lyrics. I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the rhythm, the way each person held their own and mixing beautifully together.
Music was a remedy for my disobedient mind when my heart felt caught between change and reality. I was finding myself, a believer born into believers, suddenly becoming unbelief to the stories I was told. I was finding myself challenged moreso by my own questions, and less by outside peers.
There was a shift when I started falling back in love with music again, no longer being ashamed to chime in with my family during their break out singing sessions. Yet, something was convicting me. Some of my family sang sweeter than before. Perhaps I had not caught on as a child, wind swept in the dreamy phases of wild imagination. Maybe it was that my eyes were finally adjusting to how their souls were connected to Jesus. I wouldn’t say I was transformed right then and there, but that started the small ambers of seeking out that sweetness.
If I were to tell you that young angsty teen found Jesus in her youth, I would sadly disappoint. That young angsty teen turned into an adult, and that adult started to feel the ache of missing. Lifestyles changed, families moved apart, and those connections in that family community were long gone. In their place were my own soft tunes, trying to seek out the sweetness.
I was striving for years to find that sweetness. I felt that I missed the boat. That I somehow lost the ties to keep me anchored and I was further away than before. Until, my pastor requested a spoken word about Easter. I leapt at the chance to prove myself. I was elated to be seen, that my writing was something to be heard. It was here that I found that Jesus was not far but closer to home. That I had been dancing around the campfire to nothing but my shadows, nothing but my failures, and shortfalls. I was dancing to make the flames higher, to get some sort of revelation. When all the while He was quietly waiting.
Music is the vessel I have used so often to drive my writing. It’s the pathway that connects me to an emotion, an aim, a goal. So when I bitterly looked into my playlist, exhausted with writing this speech, it was by chance I came across Hillsong United: Closer Than You Know. It was the live version. At first, I wasn’t digging it. It was starting off too slow for my need to be busy. Yet, as my finger hovered above the forward button, the words came to play.
I tempered the storm, though your faith was small.
I prayed while you slept, and the night waged war.
If you ask, He will deliver.
For I realized those two verses wrecked my soul. I found myself awe struck as if I was no longer behind glass looking at our Lord, but right up close and personal. My heart bled a bit, by the truth Jesus was seeking to restore. It didn’t stop there. Further in the song, my heart ached like it once had years ago as a teen.
The Passion was out and everyone was curious to see. I remember sitting in my parents’ house, reluctant that we all had to watch it during Easter week. I remember the moment Jesus was at the pillar and every ounce of my body wanted to reach out, wanted to throw caution to the wind and race to him. I wanted to protect a man being scourged, and there was this need to protect. I wanted to save him from this suffering, because I did not understand His mission. When I listened to the second verse it was made clear to me.
I carried that cross, and I felt your pain.
I took up your crown, and I wore your shame.
All the years I had strived to find it, to seek out the sweetness for myself. When I heard those words and remembered that moment in the movie, I was met with the real Jesus instead. He had looked into my eyes, and he could see my pain. He knew my heart well, and that’s when revelation hit me. He was born to do this, to be the sacrificial lamb, to save us from a death, so we could be free to love well. It was a clear response to my need to strive. For my attempt to win grace was not needed. Jesus had done it, and was reminding me of that truth. That I was found worthy of a love that never ceases. The love I was seeking, the truth I was needing, was already mine for the taking. I didn’t need to keep striving, the blessings would still come even if I stumbled, because He knew my heart’s truth.
All Jesus is waiting for is the surrender. Sometimes it’s found where we least expect it to be. Where a hobby or a passion become a vessel for truth to be steeped. Jesus knew that music held a deeper connection than what I realized for myself.
Music is a vessel. It’s a place to get messy and worship, to lift up our arms and not be ashamed of looking silly. The lyrics were the truth I didn’t know I was needing, and perhaps there is a truth in the lyrics for you as well. There is sweetness for you where you least expect to find it. Perhaps Jesus is asking us to be still, to stop striving, and accept the sweetness He has already claimed for us.
Celene Olson is a Midwest native darling. She is a writer of fiction and conviction. Her blog Celene Ann details some of the ways she sees God’s beauty through her words. Mindful living, a good cappuccino, and playlist keep this darling enjoying life.