Monday, October 15, 2007

Feeling Inclined

To write another review, that is. Of the new CD from my friends Mike and Suzanne Cowan of Scarlet Snow entitled Inclined. The first words that come to my mind when I think about this CD is...Holy Crap. I can't believe I actually know these people. It might surprise you all to know that I had a very brief musical career with them in their band Kudzu. That was right before Scarlet Snow. And after listening to quality of this CD, I am convinced my leaving the band was by far the best gift I could've ever given these cats. ;)

First of all, I've always known that these guys were muy talented. But this CD is crazy good. Suzanne's vocals are the best I've ever heard. She has really pushed herself on this CD, reaching notes and ranges that I can't even comprehend coming out of another human being's mouth. The musical arrangements of all the songs are perfection. And the lyrics. Don't even get me started on the lyrics. They've reached a level of, sometimes brutal, honesty mingled with loving truth that, let's face it, a lot of artists are afraid to go for these days. Especially Christian artists.

Here's the deal. I've recently purchased a bunch of new music. So I've been listening to all kinds of great stuff. But it's this album that gets stuck in my head. No matter what, you can find me humming or singing one of their songs all throughout the day. There are so many songs that I love, like "Politix," "Turning This Around," "Lay Down," and "Sonrise." But my favorite song on the CD is the title track, #5, "Inclined." Here's a sample of the lyrics:

With a blanket of mystery, You cover me like a little child.
And even though I don't understand You, at least I'm warm tonight.

I love people who aren't afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves. I love artists who are able to do the same through their music. I love the truth. I love people that aren't afraid to look into the very face of darkness and look for God, even there. These guys have a story to tell. And they tell it. Very beautifully, on this new CD. So be sure to check it out for yourself. It's well worth it.

Feeling Overwhelmed

I absolutely hate feeling overwhelmed. To me, it's got to be the worst feeling in the world. It's a feeling that comes and goes for me. And I'm sure we all struggle with it from time to time. You know that feeling--there's so much going on in your life that you're sure at some point it's all going to consume you. And one day, years later, your body will be found underneath piles of unpaid bills, dirty laundry, dirty dishes, unanswered emails, unreturned messages, and neglected school fund raising campaigns. I would imagine it's sort of what being in an elevator feels like to a claustrophobic. It also makes me think of the garbage compactor scene from Star Wars. The scene featuring Han Solo famously saying, "One thing's for sure, we're all going to be a lot thinner." Oh Han, if only that were true. That certainly would be the upside to having the fool squeezed out of you.

I've noticed that when I get to feeling this way, I really see the ol' "fight or flight" response in myself in action. I either get snappy and a wee bit confrontational, or I hole up and want to take a permanent vacation from life. I think it may be the result of focusing on too many things at the same time. And before I know it, I find myself at the foot of this cold, ominous mountain of stuff that needs to be moved from Point A to Point B, and I haven't the slightest clue on how to even begin to do that. It really is all about perspective, though, isn't it??? According to Matthew 17:20, it's because my faith is too small. Jesus says,

For if you had faith even as small as a tiny mustard seed you could say to this mountain, 'Move!' and it would go far away. Nothing would be impossible. Matthew 17:20 (Living)

I'd like to think that my faith is larger than a mustard seed. But at times, I'm afraid it isn't even that large! Especially during those times when I am feeling most overwhelmed. In that very moment, we cease to operate out of faith, and begin to walk in fear. How many of God's plans are aborted or disrupted when we choose to react in fear (fight or flight) instead of responding with faith? What I need to do, in that moment, when I feel like I am about to crack under the pressure, is stop, pray, and ask the Father to give me more faith and His perspective. For everything is possible for those that believe. And I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

However, I realized something the other day. It's not my faith that gets me through these things. It's God Himself. It's not faith in faith that I need, but faith in a faithful God. That certainly takes some of the pressure off, doesn't it??? Thank God that it's not my pitifully small faith that will get me through tough times. But a rather large and reliable God. My faith just lets me enjoy the process and the journey, and hopefully see God's hand guiding me along the way.