Hearing A Song For the "First" Time

I spend a lot of time on four-lane highways, and music is an important companion.

In my first years of ministry, there was one particular four-lane road that I had to travel often to attend meetings required for ordination, and one station on satellite radio provided me with support and encouragement and the uncanny ability to sing what I was feeling.

I discovered some of my favorite artists on those trips. Gregory Alan Isakov. Jason Isbell. Over the Rhine. The Avett Brothers. Patty Griffin.

Dar Williams frequently appeared on the station, and while I liked her music, it didn’t stick with me like others did. Her voice was beautiful, her lyrics were poetic, but there was never an incentive to purchase what I’d heard. The years went by, I got ordained, other stations took precedence, and I largely forgot about Dar Williams — until last Sunday night.

The fifth and final season of one of my favorite shows, The Affair, premiered with an episode largely revolving around the end of one character’s life. The second half of the episode was viewed from the perspective of the dying man’s girlfriend, and at the end of show there was a sequence of scenes around her, without dialogue, that really captured some of the emotions around her grief. A song played during this sequence, a song so perfect and beautiful and haunting that I had to go in search of it right away.

I discovered that the song, “The Beauty of the Rain,” was recorded by Dar Williams in 2003. I asked myself, “How has this song been around for 16 years and I’m only now finding it?” Most likely, the song had come on my radio while driving many a highway, but I didn’t really hear the song until being still and watching it come to life in a story.

The Bible is full of stories and truths with which we’re familiar, but we haven’t really “heard” them yet. One of the worst traps we can fall into is that of spiritual pride: the conviction that we know all there is to know about the Word of God. There’s always something new to hear, and what joy fills my heart when I hear someone (or myself) say, “I’ve never noticed this or that in the Scriptures before…”

1 Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak;
let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
2 May my teaching drop like the rain,
my speech condense like the dew;
like gentle rain on grass,
like showers on new growth.
— Deuteronomy 32:1-2

Spiritual growth occurs all life long, and our walk with Jesus is sure to abound with surprises. The kinds of surprises that make us say, “Wow.” The kinds of surprises that cause us to search for more than we already know. The kinds of surprises that plunge us into the waters of the Holy Spirit for cleansing and renewal.

May our ears ever be tuned to hear what is familiar for the “first” time as we listen for His voice.

all good things to each of you,

Pastor Darian