I’m just a singer of simple songs
I’m not a real political man
I watch CNN but I’m not sure I can tell
You the difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love… Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day? Alan Jackson, Country Music Singer
It was in November of 2001 when I first heard the song, Where were you (When the World Stopped Turning). It was during a program… some sort of country music awards… and if I’m not mistaken, Alan Jackson humbly took the stage, hesitant to sing his song. And I’m pretty sure it was the first time anyone heard those lyrics. Today, I was prompted to look up the story behind the song. Through Wikipedia, I learn that Alan Jackson didn’t want to do a patriotic song, nor a vengeful song. And the last thing he wanted to do was to capitalize on such a tragedy. He simply wanted to convey his thoughts and emotions, but words didn’t come immediately. It was on October 28, 2001 that he woke up at 4 a.m. with the melody and opening lines and a chorus going through his mind. And so, still in his underwear, he arose to sing them into a hand-held recorder so he wouldn’t forget them. It was later that morning, after his wife and children went off to Sunday School, that he completed the lyrics. This songwriter didn’t find his voice immediately after the tragedy of 9/11. It was about a month and a half later when the words made their presence known in his heart and mind. And although they delayed in coming to him, it took only one morning to write down what he felt. This singer/songwriter had a voice and he used it. And through it, he has touched countless lives.
You know, in reflecting on that tragic day, another song comes to mind. It’s called One Last Time by Dusty Drake. I was sitting in my cubicle at The Pantry Inc., located in Sanford, NC, and I started humming along mindlessly as I worked. I thought the song was about a man leaving his wife. But then, a line cut through my work induced haze… “as the pilot tried to pull out of the dive. One last time.” That’s when I understood. This song wasn’t about a domestic argument, but rather, the song depicted a man who risked everything on United Airlines Flight 93. The song was about the plane that crashed in a field on 9/11. And there, in my cubicle, I was reduced to tears.
See, there’s power in words. And what a gift these songwriters have. How amazing to put together words with music to convey a feeling, an event, or even a tragedy. A songwriter can touch a soul and move someone to want to be different. A songwriter has a voice. And that voice can be easily heard.
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18
You know… there’s another type of voice. And it’s one that speaks just as loudly, and just as clearly, as the lyrics we hear on the radio. And the voice I’m referring to is action. In truth, actions speak much louder than our words ever will. I’ll give you an example. My friend told me about her mother’s weekly grocery store visits, which fall on Thursdays. That’s her routine, and so inevitably, she encounters the same people at the grocery store. And recently, during one of her routine shopping trips, she was approached by one of the employees working there. The employee asked, “You’re a Christian, aren’t you?” When my friend’s mother said that she was, the worker asked her to please pray for someone. And so, because my friend’s mother conducts herself in such a way, it was evident to those around her that she was a Christian. She didn’t have to say a word, or yell out, “I’m a Christian,” for her very nature and disposition flew her Christian flag for her. The actions of my friend’s mother must speak very loudly in that grocery store. And today, I am inspired by that. Today, this is the kind of voice I want to find within me.
In First Corinthians 12:7, we find that God’s Spirit equips us for different gifts, different ministries and different activities. And the purpose of God’s gifting is to produce what’s beneficial. God’s Spirit dwells within us, prompting us to action, for the “common good.” And after this passage, which breaks down those gifts, Paul uses his voice to show the Corinthians a more excellent way. Because although God’s gifts are necessary and good, if that most excellent way is not part of us, then all the works we do are useless. Our voices become loud and unedifying and brassy.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13
It sounds simple. Too simple. But today, of all days, may we all find our voices within the language of love. May love, which is heard through action, cry out above the clanging cymbals of hatred and unforgivingness, which surround us. And today, in honor of those who have fallen, may we never forget that more excellent way. Paul used his voice to advance it, and Alan Jackson reiterates Paul’s words trough song. When we hear their voices, may we remember…
…faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us. And the greatest is love…
Love speaks loudly. Can you hear her?