One of the great things about college is that your worldview expands – hopefully for the better – and you meet people who grew up in different places and had different experiences. Back in the 1980s, I met those people, and some of them have become best-friends-forever kind of friends. For some reason there was something about being in a dormitory, eating average-to-bleh food in the cafeteria, and living away from home for the first time that caused me to find really solid friendships.
For me that unlikely friendship between two very different people began in 1985 and continues to this day.
She was a preacher’s kid, but my family didn’t attend church with me.
She lived in the huge city of Houston, Texas, and I lived in a small town.
She loved Christian contemporary music, and I had never heard of it.
Not long after we met, she asked me a question I didn’t have an answer for: “What channel is your Christian radio station on?” I had never heard of such a thing, much less Christian contemporary music, and it would be a decade before I found the genre on my car radio. So I had to tell her there wasn’t a radio station like that.
Since there was no Spotify or Pandora, no smart phones or PCs to download your favorite songs, we had no choice but to get creative. So we recorded songs from the radio onto cassettes tapes. When I met my friend from Houston, she had many of those tapes full of songs and artists I had never heard of: Amy Grant, Steve Green, the Imperials, Petra, and Michael W. Smith.
That introduction to Christian music and the artists who wrote and sang it was a life-changing moment, especially for someone who loved music.
Looking back at them today, the 80s rock songs I sang at the top of my lungs while cruising downtown on Friday nights were full of questionable, sexually suggestive lyrics. What I didn’t know was that the1980s also saw a rise in Christian contemporary music, a genre I didn’t even know existed until I began attending a Christian college in my hometown.
Fast-forward a decade, and there was still no Christian radio station . . . at least not that I knew of. But life-changing moment number two came from a total stranger: During my and my husband’s search for a van to accomodate our growing family, the salesman who helped us had set the station to Christian music while he serviced our new vehicle. I’ll never forget the name: Heaven 107.7.
Today I am profoundly thankful to God for my college friend and the car salesman who viewed his job as a way to point people to Jesus. And here’s why . . .
#1 Most of the songs are straight from Scripture. Surely I’m not the only one with senior citizen brain fog, but scripture memory is a struggle, and I need the words of the Bible to permeate to the “bones and marrow” of my soul.
#2 Listening to Christian contemporary music is often like opening my Bible to profound truth and a reminder of the attributes of God.
#3 I need it. God deserves it, and I’m reminded to spend far more time praising God, giving him the glory, and falling on my face in worship.
#4 God generously gave us incredibly talented writers and artists whose soul purpose is to share the gospel, reach people for Christ, and draw people to himself.
#5 In a world with so much disgusting junk out there encouraging Satan’s agenda, music is a powerful weapon against it.
#6 I have to keep up with my worship pastor’s new songs that bring tears to my eyes. Every. Single. Worship service.
#7 No more vulgar, inappropriate lyrics.
I’m old school and still listen to the radio for the newest Christian songs and artists even though I have favorite songs on a play list. But nothing compares to this love song full of anguish and humility written more than 3,000 years ago by Kind David. Surely he would have been named artist of the year for this one:
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
If you haven’t discovered the blessing of Christian music, do so today.
If you’ve been a fan for many years, set someone’s radio to the right channel today, figuratively speaking, and bless him or her today.
I praise you, Lord, for the gift of music that brings me to my knees in worship of all that you are. Allow your Holy Spirit to fill me with a burden for lost people today and every day. Amen.