Blood, Sweat and Tears was a large rock and roll group that was popular from 1967 to 1981. They disappeared from the music scene, for about 3 years and then started up again in 1984. They had a distinctive style of music that was a fusion or rock, blues and pop music. The band featured brass instruments and did lots of jazz improvisations. A style of music that can still catch your attention and get your toes tapping.
I am crazy about rock music. Not the hard or acid rock but the early rock and roll. It makes me want to get up and dance. Joan Jett said it beautifully in her song, “I Love Rock and Roll.” There’s a lyric in the song that talks about putting another dime in the jukebox and the record machine. I don’t know if many of you remember how prevalent jukeboxes were several decades ago. There were big ones in lots of restaurants, bars and clubs. In some of the restaurants, there were small juke boxes on each table. You could put your money in there and select the songs you wanted to hear without getting up. The big drawback was that you didn’t know how many other people had done the same thing before you and it might be a while before you heard your favorite songs. But waiting was easy while you listened to your favorite tunes.
For me it was always about the lyrics and the beat. Whether they were silly, maudlin or romantic, songs could say things that I had no words to express. I love how the music always told a story, and you could actually understand the words they were singing (usually). Oh yeah, there were no F bombs being dropped and no crude or lascivious lyrics and certainly no rappers threatening to blow up the world or kill all the police.
Most of all I love the danceability (is that a word?) of the music, that strong back beat that you hear in so many songs. For me to really engage with the music I had to be able to sing along and dance to it. When I was in my 20’s on my days off I would put on my favorite records–yes I did say records, those vinyl discs that went on a record player, if you were lucky you had a stereo. The records came in three separate sizes, 45, 78 and 33 1/3. The 45’s were small discs that held one song per side. The 78’s were larger but still only had one song per side whereas the 33 1/3 were the long play discs. You could put an entire album on those babies. The stereo had the place of honor in my house. Sure, I liked TV but I liked music a whole lot more. I would crank up the stereo and blast out my favorite tunes while I cleaned my house and sang all my favorite songs. It was amazing how fast I could get that housework done that way.
My kids grew up listening to this kind of music. I played music all the time whenever possible. I bought 8 tracks and cassettes and finally moved up to CD’s and then a Walkman. Wow, I thought I was on top of the technology world for music. It’s funny, as my kids grew older of course they found their own music style, most of which did not impress me in the least. The sad tale of the generational split. LOL. To this day though, my daughter can remember the words to several of “my” songs. And though our music tastes differ quite a bit, there are a few artists we can agree we really like. If you can spontaneously burst into a chorus of “Cheeseburger in Paradise” you have a picture of my family get togethers. Even my granddaughter and her husband know and love Jimmy Buffett. There are many things which hold a family together, and music can be a part of that.
My daughter and I both enjoy contemporary Christian rock. As a matter of fact, other than a few oldies, or some good country music, contemporary Christian rock and old-fashioned hymns are all I listen to these days. Songs can express emotions for which I truly have no words. The beautiful old hymns can ease my soul and soften my heart ache. I believe all good Christian music is inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Life can be difficult to say the least. There are times when I just need to get on my knees or fully prone and let my emotions flow through. Often there are many tears that accompany a prayer time like this. Knowing the Holy Spirit is interceding for me is crucial to my emotional survival. Romans 8:26 says “In the same way, the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” And I am so grateful that he does.
I need the Holy Spirit in every part of my life. I need the Holy Spirit in order to write this blog. I have simply not been able to write anything in several weeks. The political split that our country has been plagued with was at a fever pitch during that time. I promised I would not allow my blog to become a political forum so I felt completely blocked from writing anything prayerful. I am sincerely hoping that the madness of the past few months is retreating, and people will settle back into a more normal lifestyle. Although, I can hardly call it normal when we are still living in a pandemic situation.
Today, I am filled with the spirit of hope. Hope for our future as individuals, as Christians and as part of our great nation. The hope does not come from what may or may not be changing in the political arena and does not rest on who is in what office, or on anyone on this earth. Instead, my hope comes from Jesus Christ. When He ascended into heaven he gave us all the Holy Spirit to indwell with us. The Holy Spirit is our comforter. No matter what is happening on the worldwide front, my life as a follower of Christ is secure. You see, I may not know the end of the story, but I can see the next phase. The one where we “graduate” from earth to heaven. Paul expressed the way I feel these days. His letter to the Philippians 1:21 says “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Simply said living for Christ we are able to continue the good works of making disciples of all nations, but to die means we get to go to heaven.
For several weeks I was struggling with the concept of heaven. My finite mind could not picture how heaven could possibly hold all the trillions of people who have died before us. The logistics of it all is what caused my struggle. Regardless of what I may be able to understand, Jesus tells us very simply, “In my father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I got to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2. There is a place for each and everyone of us who have accepted the gracious gift of salvation.
Jesus paid a very high price for us to be in heaven with him some day. Just like we do sometimes, Christ also struggled with the right words to pray on the night before his crucifixion. His struggle was so intense that the drops of sweat were like drops of blood. As Luke tells us, “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly. Then his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:44 I never realized that this was anything more than a dramatic description of Jesus praying. It is far more than that. Jesus did actually sweat blood. There is a name for it. Hematidrosis is what it is called, and it is caused by the blood vessels surrounding the sweat glands. The blood vessels can burst and then seep into the sweat glands, so that indeed the drops of sweat are bloody. The cause of this condition is extreme anguish. And Jesus was certainly suffering extreme anguish. He says of himself, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”
The Bible tells us Jesus suffered all the temptations that we can suffer, but we certainly do not suffer everything Jesus went through. And He did it all for us. For in the end, He was obedient. He prayed earnestly for God to remove the cup of suffering, but then, like the dutiful son that He was, he said “Not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42.
As children of God, we too need to remember to be obedient. That doesn’t mean we have to suffer as Christ did, it means that we must listen for the voice of God or the leading of the Holy Spirit and be willing to follow. Follow wherever God leads us. We will walk down that road with him, and I picture myself doing just that while singing my favorite rock songs. Rock on!