One divine melody permeates the grand narrative of redemptive history. In this series, Jeremy is guiding us through the biblical narrative–from Genesis to Revelation–with “ears to hear” the penetrating God-beat keeping everything in tune.
A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.
Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work. The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist.
In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the top musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written,with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars. Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100 (original story from “The Washington Post,” April 4, 2007).
This oft-told story illustrates, among other things, that the familiar sites, sounds and set patterns of our everyday lives can deafen us to the quiet, unforced rhythms of Beauty’s song patiently singing in the background of our static-filled lives. The Father’s Song, having sung the entire creation into being only chapters earlier in the Biblical narrative, has now slipped into the background of a world spiraling into a sin-filled cosmic cacophony of competing songs and dances (see previous post, “Cosmic Dissonance”).
What is the great Composer to do when his instruments so defiantly refuse to perform His song? They not only deafen their hearts to His song, but far worse, they choose to compose their own songs and gather around them other inferior com-posers (i.e., idolatry). The ancient Near Eastern world of the patriarchs (second millennium BCE) is a diverse religious landscape of the various gods, temples, sacrifices, rites, rituals, and myths of the Babylonians, Persians, Egyptians, etc. The Creator God, much like Joshua Bell with his violin in the DC metro station, chose an ordinary place in the bustling center of ancient Ur (modern day Iraq) and continued to perform and sing that ancient melody that once sing the universe into being, waiting patiently for “anyone who has ears to hear” (Jesus).
At just the right time, just the right chord struck just the right ear and set into motion God’s grand project to bring all creation back into harmony with The Father’s Song. His name was Abram. Can you imagine the day he came home to his wife Sarai and shared with her that he heard the Voice that spoke the world into existence speak to him? Not only did he speak, but He had given them very specific instructions: “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you” (Gen. 12:1). In other words, “Make a clean break with your current life, your current culture, your current gods — your current daily dance. From now on, your future will be guided by the purposes of my will. From this day forward you’ll be my chosen instrument to perform My Song, and “through you all peoples on earth will be blessed” (Gen. 12:3) as they come to know “The Father’s Song.”
“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:2-3).
“So Abram left, as the Lord had told him…and they set out for the land of Canaan” (Gen. 12:4). One man’s heart was captured by that irresistible Song, and he went immediately on his way, one man whistling alone in the dark — or, shall we say, for the first time walking in the Light?
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How often does the noise of our daily routine drown out the attempts of God’s gentle Spirit to speak to us? What are the popular “cultural songs” that tend to shape and guide our daily rhythms? How about “The American Dream?” Is this a song driving our lives? Is it consistent with “The Father’s Song”? Have you had a divine, life-changing moment when you first heard God’s voice calling you to a different life? What lessons can we learn from Abram about obedience, sacrifice, repentance and faith?