Running to God-tunes

One of the foundations of our team is prayer and worship, so it’s no surprise that we’ve been deeply impacted and encouraged  as individuals and as a community of ‘creative-types’ through music.  Whether it’s on a sunrise beach run or an early morning airport run, music has always been a vehicle for transporting me to a higher place and beckoning me to commune with my Maker.

My iPod playlists are stocked with artists who have repeatedly ushered me into God’s presence over the years….U2, the Violet Burning, Hillsong United,  Delirious, Luke Parker, John Mark McMillan, & Josh Garrels, to name a few…some of them household names and some not, but all among my favourite ‘running’ companions, often shuffled into a mysteriously meaningful order.  Jonathan Martin refers to these “Holy Spirit shuffle” experiences in his brilliant new book Prototype, where Beautiful Day by U2 came up in one of those perfect moments.  Of U2, Martin remarks they have “always spoken the  language of my spirit – and thankfully our communicative God is conversant in all my dialects”.

It doesn’t matter how heavily my backpack is weighed down with the cares of life, the burdens of living out this mission calling, or any of the zillion things that attempt to steal my joy… I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve been ambushed by the Spirit when a song finds its perfect moment to appear, a conduit for communicating with God.  As Martin says, in these moments I’m not just…

…hearing U2 play a rock song, I’m hearing an ancient song, I’m hearing the music of God’s love in the same way I believe David heard it in the field as a boy.  It’s the wonder that calls me back to who I really am, that calls me forward to who I am meant to become.  That’s what music does; that’s what wonder does.  God uses these things to remind us who we really are.”

It’s no secret that one of my passions is unearthing new tunes, albums, and artists and sharing these offerings.  For me, new discoveries are like trail signs marking key life events, (places), seasons, mountains & valleys–often surfacing exactly when revelation, direction and inspiration are most needed.

New Zealand, November, 2009

We were nearing the end of an epic two month mission mobilisation tour–almost 90 presentations from Bluff to Kaitaia.  A new season was on the horizon, and we knew that the Spirit of God was “hovering over the surface of the waters”, but all was still “formless”.   Questions like ‘where, and what is home?’ were at the forefront for me (two months on the road can do that to you).  I was sitting in my bro Jay’s car driving down an Auckland motorway when he popped in a disc containing a few demo tracks from an upcoming album he and his bandmates at the Edge Kingsland church were about to release.  The Spirit crashed over us like a monster wave as we surfed through the first offerings from an album which has become a go-to for myself and our community.

That album,  Edge | Vol 1: Here’s My Home  released in early 2010, was one of the freshest sounding worship albums of the year–and continues to be.  It’s a 60+ minute gem that flows seamlessly, taking listeners on a deep musical journey.  It’s made up of moments of grit and desperation counterbalanced with moments to catch your breath and enjoy the view.  The album weaves familiar refrains, which continue to be anthems of hope, faith, and love.

We’re currently in another season of transition, coming off running our Media2Go documentary training course in Thailand.  During the early part 2013, the challenges associated with relocating this travelling circus to Chiang Mai (including 7 adults and 11 children under 3) seemed almost insurmountable.  But it’s as if God considered us when Edge | Vol 2: Due North appeared with a fresh refrain for the season: ”Awake my soul I do believe, faith my able guide to be.  Hope be made alive in me, Christ be my awakening”.

Vol. 2 follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, with new themes to be explored on this journey within God’s Big Story.  I love the album notes (quoted here):

Where we come from, our history lies in stories, that great oral tradition, passed from one generation to another.  These stories stack up like stones on an altar. Some of these altars bloodstained things, some of them tributes to a great victory. Some of them like cracked signposts to the prodigal. And some of them are Psalms. Journeys tied up in stanzas, travelling verses from despair to hope, doubt to faith. The song of Miriam on the other side. Where we come from, our stories make their way to our songs. We could call them worship music, but they’re so much more. They are our triumphs, our wounds, our hallelujahs, our pillars of smoke and fire.”

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