I love music, all kinds of music. I like classical, oldies, country, Christian, rock and roll, jazz, blues and any other brand you can name. I find myself putting a hold on my channel surfing when I come across one of those Infomercials from Time Life on the hits from the 60’s. I love watching the video clips and hearing the songs.
I’m a sucker for a record store. I guess they aren’t record stores anymore but you know what I mean. My wife, Terri and I, can go to the mall and she can just leave me there. I search through the files looking for Classic Oldies and Greatest Hits collections. I also look for ‘Live’ albums because I love the sound of live music.
Terri and I have listened to so much oldies music that our kids know most of the songs we know. We love Three Dog Night, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, The Grass Roots, Tommy James and the Shondells, The Monkees, DION, The Hollies, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Blood Sweat and Tears, Chicago, The Eagles, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Johnny Mathis, and others. I’ve met Gary Puckett and DION. They are great people and now believers.
If you watch much television, you’ve heard hundreds of oldies in commercials. Trying to tap into the boomer pocketbook, advertisers are using songs from our past to make us buy something in the present and charge it to the future.
I can identify with what John Fischer said in an article back in November 1988, “There is definitely a lure to this kind of music…For someone like me, whose tender years spanned the 60’s. Each one of these songs comes packed with emotional luggage. In the course of three or four songs, I can fall in and out of love twice, relive the confusion of a major war, and feel John and Bobby die all over again.”
We were sitting in the Mobile Civic Center a few weeks ago, watching our oldest daughter graduate from the University of Mobile. As we sat there, we started reminiscing. We both were raised on the coast of Mississippi and in our high school and college years went to a number of concerts at that Civic Center. We started talking about where we were sitting at certain concerts. It was the first time we had been in that room since we were dating. It took us both back in our minds.
Read again what Fischer had to say, “Suddenly, I realized…I’ve already done this! This stuff is simply a replay of the first part of my life! We’re a generation anaesthetized on our past.” Fischer goes on to say, that Faith and Rock and Roll have something in common. They are both rebellious, radical and ridiculous. They both challenge the status quo, ask the hard questions and always make someone who’s acting on it look funny compared to what is presently acceptable.
For faith to be faith, it has to be present tense. You build on your past but you don’t worship it. Faith has to be fresh, current, vibrant, and take risks. Faith asks us to step out on a promise even when we can’t see the answer. Faith doesn’t allow us to rest on an old cliche or a hook line in a song. Faith is not a cute quote it’s a radical way of life. Faith stretches us, it never lets us play the same song and dance over and over again. Faith is not stagnant, it’s alive.
Again, I want to quote John Fischer. “Faith is not a memory; it is a present tense engagement with reality. It wakes you up, throws life in your face and calls you to do something about it. Faith is unpleasant because it always asks you to do something you’ve never done before. If it doesn’t do this, then it’s not faith. Faith can only have life when I’ve been stretched into a realm where I must act on what I believe without seeing it. It takes no faith to dream about the past.”
I have some old 45 rpm’s. They have well worn grooves in them. Some of us, who live and talk about what we once did for God, have some well worn grooves in our lives. They are called ruts. We’re caught humming the tune of old time religion and our faith is dying. We’re strumming on the chord of our traditions and there’s nothing new and fresh in our lives. We’re scared of change, so we fall back on what is safe, comfortable and familiar.
I like what Fischer says, “I want to live a life I haven’t lived yet. I want adventure. I’m over here on the other side of Jordan with battles and giants on every side and someone keeps trying to seduce me with familiar songs of the Red Sea and life in the wilderness. The next time I hear a golden oldie and feel that tug of nostalgia, I’m going to think of the children of Israel wandering around in the wilderness listening to Moses’ Greatest Hits and watching The Crossing of the Red Sea on video cassette.”
As an aging baby boomer, I’m sure tempted to settle down with my memories. I’m tempted to sit, soak and sour. I’m tempted to talk about the good old days (some of which weren’t so hot). I’m tempted to romanticize my past and be skeptical of the future. I’m tempted to do what a lot of folks do as they grow older, coast to the finish line.
That’s not faith. Faith endures. Faith works. Faith prevails. Faith waits, but it also moves forward. Moses is dead. The Spirit is alive. I’ve gone to a number of oldies concerts, I love them and enjoy them, but they’ve lowered the key, and the lead singer doesn’t have the chops he used to have. I don’t mind visiting my past, I just don’t want to live there.
So, I’ll keep going to record stores; I’ll try out some new artists. And oh, by the way, I’ll keep asking God to never let me be satisfied with past accomplishments, last week’s sermon, yesterday’s prayer time or what’s on my resume. I want to keep pressing forward. I want to learn new songs. I want to try a few new methods. I don’t want to play it safe. I don’t want to keep my cards close to the vest. I want to live the life God has given me to the fullest. I want to cross the finish line at full stride, not stumbling or looking over my shoulder. I pray there are still a few mountains left to climb in this old Catt and that I’ll never be satisfied with status quo or living in the past.
FROM THE CLUTTERED DESK,
© Michael Catt, 2004.
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.