Hi, Rob here. Music is a gift from God. Like many gifts it can be abused and misused but it remains gift. It’s also a very personal gift. The music that resonates in my soul may cause you to rush for the OFF button and vice versa. Music is a language of the heart. It can help us to worship God, sympathise and empathise with people, set off joy triggers that have lain dormant, move us to tears, fuel anger and make us dance. Couples have their special songs, nations have their anthems, and I have the music of Bruce Springsteen as a soundtrack to my life.
I’ve just had the joy of being at two Springsteen concerts in Auckland, New Zealand. They were epic: 18 piece band, 3+hours, joyful yet reflective, party-like yet poignant, grand yet intimate and personal. There was a lightness of spirit in the crowd and a willingness to receive whatever Bruce and the band had to give us. For a few hours we were a community at peace with life. It was more than mere escape. Bruce’s lyrics are so grounded in reality that they don’t let you escape life; they invite you to remember what matters most, celebrate life no matter how hard life may be, be thankful for those that love you and for those who have now passed on, and know that you are part of something larger. It’s not the gospel but it’s gospel-like. For me, as someone who loves and follows Jesus as Lord, Bruce’s songs help me remember that God loves me, has blessed me, has called me and he is present. There are two things in particular that Bruce does that resonate with me; he names the hard things and he calls us to hope.
So he put a name to injustice (“Ghost of Tom Joad”), tragedy (“City of Ruins”), lost friendship (“Backstreets”), getting old (“Glory Days”), loneliness (“Cover Me”), poverty (“Seeds”) and temptation (“Atlantic City”). Do we name that hard stuff in our life? Do we name the addiction or the struggle? Do we name our passivity, our doubts or our need for control? If we don’t they exert hidden power over us. Naming something calls it out of hiding and exposes it to light. God works best in our lives when we offer up the darkest parts as well as the lighter shades. Naming helps to disarm the things that shame us, blame us and tame us. But it doesn’t end there.
Bruce calls his audiences to hope that there will be a better day. We heard “High Hopes”, “The River”, “No Surrender”, “The Rising”, “Wrecking Ball” and “Thunder Road” make this call to us. Of course, it is the resurrection of Jesus that is the ultimate call to hope. It is tangible proof that there will be a better day, the kingdom will come in all its fullness and all will be well. But we’ll take any reminders that we can get because hope is hard to hold on to. That’s why the music we listen to can be so important. It is a language of the heart and our hearts need hope, so choose your music well and let it bring life and hope to your soul.
So, name the hard stuff. Call it out into the light. Hold on to hope and let it rise within you. Thanks Bruce for reminding us and thank you Jesus that in your name it can be done.