Hello, my name is Shawn, and I pray secular songs.
My friend Carl is probably laughing out loud as he reads this, because he’s reminded of this episode from South Park where Cartman writes and sings a Contemporary Christian song titled, “Jesus Baby.” Here are the unlicensed lyrics:
“You know Jesus, I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately, and well…That’s why I wrote this song
I love you Jesus, I want you to walk with me. I’ll take good care of you baby, call you my baby, baby. You died for my sins, and you know that I would die for you, right? What’s the matter baby, you’re trembling
The truth of the matter is, I’ve been praying secular songs since I was a child. Genre doesn’t matter…Country, Heavy Metal, Independent Rock…it all works.
One song I frequently prayed as a confessional when I was in high school and college was Chicago’s hit “Hard to Say I’m Sorry.” Please don’t look up the lyrics…it’s just too weird. I’ve prayed the song, “Jealousy” by Cary Brothers many times to ask God to instill in me the same passion and desire for intimacy that He maintains for me…often referred to as “Jealousy” in the Hebrew Scriptures.
This morning, I prayed “I Run To You” by Lady Antebellum:
“I run from pain
I run from prejudice
I run from pessimists
But I run too late
I run my life
Or is it running me
Run from my past
I run too fast
Or too slow it seems
When lies become the truth
That’s when I run to you
This world keeps spinning faster
Into a new disaster so I run to you”
I’m no fool. I recognize the fact that Chicago, Cary Brothers, and Lady Antebellum were in reality expressing their low self-esteem and pathetic reliance upon a member of the opposite sex to retrieve them from the depths of some self-perceived melancholy. I also realize that some individuals believe that those of us who profess a faith in Christ—or any faith in a higher power—are also expressing our low self-esteem and pathetic reliance upon a myth…relying upon a crutch to aid us through life’s disasters. If you happen to be one of those individuals, feel free to comment…I’ll love you just the same. Nonetheless, I’ve heard the argument—this isn’t my first rodeo.
To be honest, as I continue to read through Exodus 19, God didn’t initially come to us with “Open Arms” and a “Welcome to Love” Him (Thank you Journey and Gary Numan). In fact, God was more like Claude Kelly, Busta Rhymes, and .38 Special, saying:
“‘Don’t come any closer,’ ‘Don’t touch me,’ and go ‘Back Where You Belong.’”
God was ready to reveal something amazing—something life-changing—something soteriological to the Israelites. This is evident with the significance of the third day theophany—if it happens on the third day in the Bible…LOOK OUT…cause something’s about to happen that will change your life:
“On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.”
God goes through all this fire and fanfare for what? Check out what God tells Moses right after His fireworks finale: “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish” (Exodus 19:21). Even though God desired intimacy with His people, without some sort of intervention, He would perpetually be like En Vogue…He’s “Never Gunna Get It.” Like the Black Crowes, God’s holiness is just too “Hard to Handle.”
So tell me God, how can I be like Lady Antebellum, Whitney Houston, and Bryan Adams and “Run To You?”
The beauty within the Sinai incident is it foreshadowed a day when God would enter our world and shed His own blood for us. He rose again on the third day, and after “Riding the Lighting, ” He stands with “Open Arms” and says, “Run to Me.” And in the words of Patsy Cline, He continues to call out to us, “Come on in and sit right down and make yourself at home.”
“So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—[run] right up to God, into “the Holy Place.” Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The “curtain” into God’s presence is his body. So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word.”
—Hebrews 10:19-23 (The Message)