The Musical Journey

“You’re not going to have a mid-life crisis, are you?” This question has been asked of me repeatedly during the last year or so by various significant relatinoships in my life. For any readers of this blog are asking the same question, I am pleased to report that, no, after making it almost 30 days into the first month of my forties, there is no midlife crisis anywhere in sight.

Having said that, I DO think that I’m having something of a mid-life epiphany. And its not bad.

I’ve been writing for some time, now, about some of the reflections I’ve made – as one of the pioneering members of the media generation – upon reaching this age. But today’s reflection is the one that I have found to be more remarkable than any of the others.

Its about how my love for music was gained, lost, and restored in a way that caught me completely off guard.

By way of background for those who don’t know much about Churches of Christ, I was raised in a faith tradition that rejected the use of instrumental music in worship as being contrary to scripture. As such, a capella singing was the only musical form of worship that I experienced during my early years.

I learned to love a lot of the older hymns in my youth. Songs like “Amazing Grace,” “Just as I Am,” and “The Old, Rugged Cross” were staples in the congregation where I grew up. The 70s and 80s also brought about a whole slew of cheesy Christian songs (Dan Kimball would call them “Christian-eesy”) that were converted to a capella form but I won’t go into a recital of the litany of songs that fit into this category.

One thing I did not experience as a youth was contemporary Christian music. Oddly, this was not because it was disallowed per se by my parents, that I can recall. To the contrary, I recall my parents occasionally mentioning that they were uncertain that our faith tradition had really gotten this issue right. I just never took much of an interst.

Likewise, through High School at least, I was not a rock or pop music fan, largely because I took great pride in the fact that I intended to avoid the whole sex/drugs/rock n roll rebellion stage.

So what does a teenager with no interest in “worldly” music or contemporary Christian music listen to?

Believe it or not: film scores. I grew up listening to scores written by John Williams, James Horner, and other film composers of the late twentieth centires. I also developed a love for playing the piano (largely by ear).

A funny thing happened, though. As I reached adulthood and moved into my working/child raising years, I lost touch with music. Talk radio became a staple in my drive time diet, and – for the most part – I simply quit listening to any type of music at all for years upon years.

Then, something odd happened.

On a Good Friday only a few years ago, I attended a worship gathering at Highland (my local church) where instrumental music from the “Praise and Worship” tradition was used. (Highland still adheres to the tradition of a capella singing in our main gatherings, but we occasionally will break from that tradition during special gatherings at other points during the week).

I loved it. And only a few days later, I purchased a “WOW Worship” CD to sample some of the offerings that were available. One song on that CD, in particular stood out,”In the Secret” by SONICFLOOd.

My next purchase? The original SONICFLOOd CD, in many ways the defining CD for the so-called “modern worship” movement (a movement which uses pop/rock instrumentation and styles, rather than more traditional “Praise and Worship” forms). From that moment forward, I was hooked.

Quickly I discovered a number of other prominent Modern Worship artists: Lincoln Brewster, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes. Later, after the original SF breakup, I continued to follow Jeff Deyo, the original lead singer for SF.

This music has represented nothing short of a renaissance in my life. Before it came along, I was very much a worshipper of God with mind and strength, and even soul. But I was not a heart worshipper. My heart simply didn’t have a vehicle in which it was able to soar in worship. But these artists, and others, in their music, have provided me with that vehicle.

And I haven’t even reached the really cool thing, yet.

Others, I think, listen to modern worship music and think about how it is like other music they have listened to for the last 20-25 years. But, because of my oddball teen years, to me it is all new.

So…I have returned to the keyboard, chord charts in hand, trying to learn how to make this new kind of music. I’ve also picked up a copy of Cakewalk Music Creator, which I use to experiment with the creation of guitar and drum tracks.

My dream is, some day, to have a chance to play keyboard for a local modern worship band (no aspirations of big-time fame here!). I don’t have the skills to sing lead vocals, but I would love, some day, to be able to play and sing background vocals with a group of people who help to lead others in worship.

About two years ago, my wife Sheila remarked that this music IS my mid-life crisis.

In a way, she was right. (Okay, truth is, her observations along these lines are ALMOST ALWAYS right). If a mid-life crisis is about re-discovering something from youth that was lost in adulthood, I’ve found it in spades. But still, I refuse to call it a “crisis.”

The way this music leads me to (sometimes) shout and (sometimes) fall facedown in wonder and awe of my Creator just feels too good to be a crisis.

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