Revealing the Divine
Posted on June 10, 2009 by Paul | 3 Comments | Jump to Comments Box Below
Revealing the Divine
by Paul Baloche
Music affects everyone differently. Type “Most impacting music of all time” into an Internet search engine, and the results are astounding. There are over 60 pages of websites commenting on a vast range of music claiming to be the best. Clearly the influence of music is widespread throughout the world and throughout generations. It is the specifics that differ, but the overall impact is the same. Music takes the mind and soul to a different plane.
From my own experience, my guess is that the profound nature of music lies in its connection to our emotions – our response to this divine expression. As I write this, I’m in the middle of a 10-day Canadian tour. Relentless travel and very little sleep leave me a bit foggy as we race to an airport to catch a place to the next city. As I pass through security, I begin to hear music that immediately affects my attitude. It’s The Mills Brothers – from the 1930s – “Across the Alley From the Alamo.” Suddenly, I find myself smiling, nodding my head and escaping the rigors of the road.
Close to Divine
To further explore how music impacts humanity, I picked the brains of some friends and acquaintances to see if their thoughts mirrored mine. One such friend, an amateur (or part-time) philosopher, explained her understanding of music as such:
“Our language is limited. It fails to capture the nuances of emotion and experience. Instruments, rhythm, and sound express longings and feelings that our words simply can’t convey. When lyrics and music are combined, our deepest emotions are given voice. Music reaches nerves in my heart that I wouldn’t otherwise know were exposed. The best music – the most original, the most truthful – expresses the humanity is us all.”
The nature of music is that it expresses something that we as humans have a hard time putting our finger on. God created music, but He has also invited us to join His symphony with our musical compositions. And our creations have the ability to pull our emotions, invade our experiences, and transform our relationship with the divine. As my band and I toured through the French-speaking part of Canada this week, I could see once again how God inexplicably uses music to help usher people into His presence, transcending language, culture and generations.
Another friend and fellow musician paints a similar image of music with his insightful description:
“Harmonies and rhythms can bypass the intellect and go straight to the subconscious to evoke feelings and emotions. My guess is that the place in ourselves that we hear, feel or sense God is close to the subconscious place that we feel music or dream dreams. It is somewhere almost outside of ourselves – somewhere that seems larger than life.”
“While the harpist was playing, the hand of the Lord came upon Elisha” (2 Kings 3:15 NIV).
It seems to be a common theme that music touches people in a very different place than the rest of the sensory world can. It impacts us on a level that is just as hard to describe as our spirituality. And it is with its beautiful and mysterious existence that music reveals a part of God’s character. Like music, He is mysterious and able to affect us beyond what words have the ability to describe. And just as God breathed the world into existence, it seems He also threaded music into the fabric of our being. The ultimate musician and music lover, God made us like Him.
We serve a God who is so profound, mysterious, creative and unique that our confined understandings cannot possibly comprehend Him. I think there is no stronger proof that music reveals a part of God’s divine nature than the fact that it evokes that same profound response. There is something in it that is above our understanding. Perhaps this is the definition of art, of truth, of divinity. Either way, we are participating and experiencing a truly timeless and heavenly expression.
During a training time, ask each team member to list five songs that have had an emotional impact on their lives. Encourage them to describe the experience and then ponder why it had such an effect. Consider the melody, the chord structure and any other elements that may have contributed to the impact of the song. Then talk about ways your team can help convey the connection that is possible with the way they approach every song they play in a service of worship.