My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 NLT
I cannot speak for others and their own unique personal experience(s) with any degree of objective certainty, but I can write about my own lifetime subjective experience. From the time I was a young child, I sensed the presence of God in my life. Everywhere I looked and everywhere I turned, there He was. I saw God in the majesty of nature, in the wonders and beauty of living things, and even in the icons and bigger-than-life murals of a Roman Catholic church in the small town I grew up in.
Over time I came to recognize that still, quiet voice that was ever present with me. I recognize today that it was God Himself that was communicating to me, not with an audible voice, but within the hidden parts of my innermost being – my soul or spirit.
Some would say that was merely my conscience speaking to me – I will not dispute that here. I will say that I wish today that I had been quicker to respond to that still, small voice on a more consistent basis than I did. Even back then, I wrestled with what I heard as conflicting voices in society to do good or to do evil.
Entire volumes have been written in the history of the Church, and in the annals of modern psychology concerning those two conflicting voices of good or evil. As a follower of Christ, what I am referring to is the difference between hearing the Spirit of God versus hearing the spirit of this world. I will leave the interpretations of the human mind and consciousness to those who consider themselves more qualified to do so.
I have often used the analogy of a genuine twenty dollar bill and its counterfeit to describe the dichotomy between the Spirit of God and the spirit of this world. My spouse has worked in the banking industry for several decades. She has been well trained to recognize and distinguish the difference between a counterfeit $20 and the real deal. When one handles the real thing, day in and day out for a long period of time – it is easy to spot a fake or an imposter.
Her experience with the genuine assists her to identify the counterfeit in an instant.
So it is with those of us who have walked with God for a long time. Because we know Him in relationship, and are quite familiar with the scriptures (the Bible) and often the history of the Church, it is easier to discern the fake, the imposter, the counterfeit voice of the spirit of this world (i.e., Satan, the demonic, and the world system that is under their influence, domination, or control).
Over the last few weeks I have been writing short posts about music that has influenced and, perhaps, shaped and moulded my life. I am well aware that much of the music and artists I have mentioned would be considered to be an anathema to the staunch fundamentalists in the Church. To the aforementioned, most of the music and artists that I have briefly written about would be considered secular and not sacred. How the aforementioned groups differentiate between the sacred and the secular is subject matter for another post.
Suffice to say that I generally do not dichotomize between secular and sacred music. I do not go on a hell-bent crusade to analyze the character, lifestyle, and purpose of individual artists and the obvious or hidden meaning behind their lyrics. I simply listen to the spirit by which they communicate by song. I instinctively know that which is of God and that which is not.
Nevertheless, I truly listen…to their pain and suffering, their disappointments, their broken relationships, their search for meaning in life and the inevitable ups and downs of living. I also listen to their joy, their happiness, and their understanding of the meaning of life and God.
I am firmly convinced that one cannot truly understand our present time without understanding our past – our shared history.
And, so, I have begun a journey to understand my past, my generation, and the often prophetic words of musical artists that have led us (at least in part) to where we are today. If I truly have any realistic expectation of communicating with those of a new generation, the Millennials, I believe I must have a comprehensive understanding of my own generation, my past, our shared history.
This is undeniably quite difficult for me as I do not really consider myself to be a Baby Boomer, nor can I sincerely identify with Generation X. I am part of the high school class of 1977 – a generation born in no man’s land who neither experienced the prosperity and security of the Boomers, nor the uncertainty and displacement of the Gen X’ers in North America.
In the final analysis, the aforementioned are just labels or markers to assist sociologists et al to identify and categorize the sociological aspects of unique generations of people. I am not convinced that, when God looks down from the heavens, He sees it quite like that 🙂
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.