I don’t know if you have ever thought what it would be like to be chained in a deep, dark prison for years. It’s not a pleasant thought, but it seems throughout history and literature that being is prison provides a kind of passage to a greater qualities of spirituality and leadership. Although sacrificing years of life and freedom seems a high price for self-improvement, nonetheless, it’s an experience some of the most admirable human beings have paid. Think of those who spent at least some time in a cell: Daniel, Jesus, Paul, Joan of Arc, Chaucer, Martin Luther, Cervantes, Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, John Brown, Papillion, Oscar Wilde, Sacco and Venzetti, the Rosenbergs, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Alexander Solzhynitsyn, Cesar Chavez, Nelson Mandela, and Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, as well as numerous other missionaries, ministers, activists, political figures and artists. It’s almost enough to make anyone want to go out and be arrested for something just so they could build some character. Fortunately, there are other easier ways to do that.
I was thinking about this situation as I was also thinking about the way I usually can think of (and sing) a song for almost every situation. If I’m walking down a street, I find myself singing “On the Street Where You Live.” Climbing stairs, I might break into a chorus of “Climb Every Mountain.” Driving into West Virginia, I invariably start singing “Almost heaven…” Or, driving by a B & B, “Y. M. C. A.” is my song (and that of a number of people). I’m sure you get the idea.
It occurred to me that I am basically entertaining myself with these songs drawn from about 63 years of sampling music of all sorts. I’m told that the earliest song I was enthralled with was Eddie Arnold’s “Cattle Call.” You might chorus of this one. It went, “Whoo whoo whoo de do whoo, Whoo, whoo, whoop di di di di do, Whoo whoo, whoo whoo de do, Singin’ his cattle song.” No wonder the cattle did what the guy who was singing this song wanted them to. They were sure they would all be driven over an escarpment if they didn’t. Anyhow, I loved to sing the chorus of “Cattle Call” when I was four. I’m sure I was unbearably cute. I was at times, like the first hundred times I ran through the chorus. And there have been many songs through the years that I love to sing along with on the radio. I still like to do this, although if we’re driving somewhere and I’m having a good time singing along with the Fifth Dimension, after about twenty seconds of this feel-good experience Becky usually asks, “Who sings this song?”
I say, “The Fifth Dimension.”
“Well, why don’t we let them sing it then?”
Ouch. But this does not discourage me.
The spiritual point of all this is that the Lord has given each of us a song to sing, a song of life, a song of grace, a song of hope, and a song of salvation. And we are told to sing it and sing it well under the best of circumstances and also during the worst of times. So, if I were chained in a dank, dark dungeon, I could entertain myself by singing the thousands of songs that live in my head. Most of us don’t find ourselves chained to a wall, but we do find ourselves chained by events or circumstance or disease or addiction. The Good News is that the Lord has given us a song, and we can sing it freely and openly. Praise God for the music that lightens our days!