There was once a man who told me to hold my faith with an open hand. Isn’t that the point of faith? Believing that it will stay, not because of the strength of your own grip, but the strength of the One you placed your faith in. I have grown to believe, that should anything arise to question my faith; I would face it unafraid. This means that I will allow myself to relinquish my hold on to what I know to be true, and trust that the beauty of God will draw me back time and time again. There will be many who will feel uncomfortable about this, and I don’t blame them. Deconstructing yourself is a terrifying process, even if it isn’t done in its entirety. It even feels unfaithful at times. But what is more unfaithful – to understand so completely that faith is a gift, that you can trust the One who gave it to you to keep you from falling off the cliff even if you leaned forward, or to second guess this gift to the point where you find yourself in the fetal position as far away from the edge as you can get?
A quick aside – this is what my song “God of My Doubt” is about. I looked at the terrifying prospect – that my doubt was not my enemy, neither was my lack of faith, but a tool to sharpen me as I navigate a world that is deliberately foggy and mysterious. I don’t need to know the future. I just need to know that God is there, and what better way to experience that, than letting Him hold you?
There are many ways that God moves me. Through His Word, the preaching I hear while I’m sitting in a pew, the stinging rebuke of a friend, or the gentle encouragement of a listener. But I’ve found that God has spoken to me most, through my own songwriting. I know how that sounds. Rather strange to learn new things by talking to yourself. But perhaps the pacing and mulling does knock a few things loose for me to begin to shift and sift through the tightly knit mess in my mind. Or perhaps, there is a more mysterious work at hand.
When I write a song, I withhold all judgement for the moment. There are no awkward cadences, cliché lines, even theologically questionable lyrics. It is just God, my guitar, and I (and maybe every now and then He brings His guitar too). This is a time of vulnerability. All the wondering about whether the Church would give my song its stamp of approval goes out the door. I do this for two reasons, and in my opinion, they’re very good reasons. Firstly, I want my songs to be honest. If there is a theological flaw in my thinking, I want it to show. This is because I’d much rather my theology be fixed in my life before it gets to my listeners, than for my listeners to agree with my music, but find out that I don’t. If faith is a journey of imperfect souls, why should my music be perfect? Secondly, I want to hold my music with an open hand.
Time and again, we read in the Bible (and in modern day testimonies) about how God uses weak and untalented individuals with open hands (even reluctantly open hands). I want to be David, when He got up to worship after his son with Bathsheba died. I want to be Jonah, after he rose from the ocean to preach to Nineveh. I want to be Moses, after hesitantly picking up a snake which turned into a staff. I want to be a musician, leaving my music and lyrics open for God to use to touch the lives of people in spite of myself and shortcomings, and I urge you to want the same.