Sunday, June 22, 2008

Life Is A Highway

I was reflecting on last week's post about parables while preparing the service for this week, and I realized the song that we used today ("Life Is A Highway") was a great illustration of what I was talking about. So I wanted to take this opportunity this week to develop this idea of a parable-oriented worship service a little further.

In preparation for each series, there is a group of creative people called the Worship Design Team that meet and generate ideas to be implemented for the upcoming series. Some of the ideas relate to music and songs that could be employed (as well as sets and skits and other service elements). Then, as I write my messages, I look at the lyrics of the different song ideas and assign each one to the week of the series that it fits best.

In the case of this week, I chose the song "Life Is A Highway" to go with the theme of "Ya Gotta Have Fuel." Our service revolved around the idea of being fueled by a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We are directed and driven by the purposes for which God created us, but we still need fuel in order to get anywhere. That fuel is our vertical relationship with God. The quality of that relationship corresponds to the quality of our fuel.

The song doesn't have anything to do with fuel, but it has everything to do with relationship. In its original context, the song is about love, as the singer invites his beloved to join him on the road of life, so that they can journey down the same path. That invitation corresponds exactly to the invitation that Jesus offers to us--to join him in life's journey, but he says we can only join him "if you're going my way." His direction is already set. The question is will we join him or will we go off on our own way?

Here are some other interesting lines I found in the song in terms of how they relate to our journey with Jesus (if you want to read the lyrics to the whole song, you can click here):

  • "Through all these cities and all these towns, It's in my blood and it's all around. I love you now like I loved you then. This is the road, and these are the hands." The love of Jesus is not confined to any one place, bound by location. Wherever we go, we find his love there. It's the love that was spoken by the blood that he shed on the cross that tore down the dividing wall between us and God so that we could know him in the most intimate way possible. His love has never wavered, never diminished; he loves us now with the same ferocity and intensity that he always has. This is the road that he has chosen--the road of passionate love for us--and he holds out his nail-scarred hands, just like he did to Thomas, inviting us to clasp ours in his as we journey together toward the fulfillment of his perfect plan.
  • "Knock me down, get back up again. You're in my blood. I'm not a lonely man." They "knocked Jesus down" on the cross, but on the third day he got back up again. The power of the resurrection and the blood that joins us to him is what makes a relationship with the Father possible. Jesus, indeed, is not lonely, enjoying the eternal fellowship of the Father and Holy Spirit in the Trinity, but also claiming an enormous spiritual family for himself on the cross whom he will enjoy forever in heaven.
  • "There's no load I can't hold. Roads are rough, this I know. I'll be there when the light comes in. Just tell 'em we're survivors." On this journey of faith, no matter how heavy the load, how rough the road, Jesus will always be there with us to help us through it. No matter how dark the night, he'll be there until light rises in our lives again, and then he'll still be there some more. This is what it means to journey with Jesus.
  • "There was a distance between you and I, a misunderstanding once, but now we look it in the eye." In our former way of life, we didn't understand the love of God, the grace of God, the wisdom of God, and the perfect plan of God. We were distant from him, running off in our own direction, far away from his path that he prepared for us to run in. But now, through Christ, we have been reconciled to God, and that distance has been eliminated. We fellowship with God in an intimate relationship that removes all the failures of the past.
  • "There's not much time left today." No one knows how much time we have or when our lives will end. But we do know that there's no time like the present to start journeying with Jesus. Right now is always the right time to choose to point ourselves in his direction and start going his way.

This song, placed in a new context, becomes a parable of the Christian life. We can hear the voice of Jesus (via the voices of Rascal Flatts) beckoning us to join him on the journey of life ("Life is like a road that you travel on"). He invites us to go his way and stay in constant companionship with him through all the things that we might encounter on such a long trip, fully trusting in his ability to carry our load and get us through the rough patches.

Maybe you didn't get all that sitting in the service this morning, but all of that was nevertheless there (and maybe more that I'm not even aware of). I trust in God's Spirit to reveal to each heart exactly what they need to hear, and I also trust that if we reflect and meditate, ask questions, engage, and interact with the service, instead of being passive, that God will show us even more. That's the nature of a parable--to reveal and conceal God's perfect plan.

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