I'd been in a very dark funk recently. All the crap that keeps hitting us, and having few to no real options, had combined to piss me off in an intense an awesomely unpleasant way. At some point, enough is way more than enough – and yet, here comes another shovel full. Life: it's out to kill you.
And, unfortunately, most of the “advice” people offer is either useless or infuriating. I suppose most mean well (at least I hope they do), but good grief! Platitudes, cliches, and band-aid scriptures just don't cut it. Most people are plenty old enough to know better, but what can you do? I mean, even if I were the kind of idiot that grabs a sniper rifle and heads to the nearest clock tower, what are the odds of finding a clock tower that is wheelchair accessible? And then there's the whole issue of not being able to lift the rifle (assuming I did find such a clock tower)... See? I can't even do the things I wouldn't! It's maddening!!
But I digress...
So I've been listening to a lot of music, lately. Obscure music. Out-of-print-for-decades-and-never-to-even-come-close-to-being-in-print-again music. Most of it old folkish Jesus Music. Music that has been like a healing balm to my soul. Music that moves me deeply. And, as is so often the case, music that I can't really share with anyone, because I can't think of anyone I know who'd dig this stuff. And as I thought about that, it really bummed me. And then it dawned on me that that is pretty much how it's always been. I've often been into stuff that no one I knew was really that into. And while it would be cool to have somebody to talk about this stuff with, it's just not likely to happen. (See? Yet another frustration.)
The cool thing, however, is that it's reconnected me with my inner retard – the oddball that's never felt like he's quite fit in anywhere. And, for better or worse, that seems to be the me that I'm most comfortable as. I'm not cool. I'm not especially bright. My lack of self-confidence would kill any motivational expert unfortunate enough to get caught in the gravitational pull of the black hole that is my lack of self-confidence. But I'm okay with my retardation, because that's when I'm most aware of just how absurd most of what too often passes for a meaningful existence in this world is. It's also the place where it's most obvious how much I need what Jesus offers. Jesus said he came for the sick and the broken, and didn't seem to spend a lot of time trying to win over those who thought they already had it all.
Anyway, I found comfort in the songs of these obscure albums. God using music I'd never heard of (that was often recorded halfway around the world, by people who will never have a clue about how powerfully their music was used), to touch and bring healing to someone 30 to 40+ years after the albums were released. Such is the coolness of the Internet. And such is the glorious mercy of the Lord.
Sometimes I think I know a little of how Job might have felt: I didn't get any real answers, but the questions don't seem quite as important now. I don't understand, and yet I am comforted. It is (as the title one of the aforementioned albums suggests), So Confusing, and So Very Clear. Sometimes we don't seem to get answers because we're not asking the right questions. Other times, it's because we've so convinced ourselves there's only one possible answer that we don't hear the truth if it's not the answer we want. And sometimes,...God is just silent (or, at least, he seems silent). But just when you're ready to give up on hearing him in the thunder-clap, burning bush, scripture – or wherever you think he might jump out from to surprise you with an epiphany – he speaks to you through the obscure songs of unknown artists who were humbly trying to express the hopes, doubts, JOYS, and fears that come to anyone who is attempting to follow Jesus through the crowded, noisy, marketplace-of-a-world we live in. It's sometimes like a whisper in a hurricane, and yet the whisper is heard. I don't understand, and yet I'm blessed. I still hurt, and yet I'm comforted. I don't really get it, but I'm thankful nonetheless.