Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cranky Girl Mix

Okay, Lord, choose my songs for me.

My iPod was set to shuffle, and the playlist was called “Cranky Girl Mix.” Please don’t for a second think it was a collection of upbeat, encouraging music chosen to pull me out of a bad mood. It wasn’t. So even as I challenged God to choose the songs, I had stacked the deck against anything uplifting, edifying, or encouraging.

The sky was gray, and although it wasn’t that cold, it was a bit windy. I was feeling kind of under the weather. I didn’t want to go for a walk, but I had committed to walking every day. And two of my friends were sure to check up on me, per my own request. So when I had noticed the sun peeking his sad little face through the clouds, I figured I’d better get out the door before the sky went all gloomy again.

I sulked and felt sorry for myself, but I walked. And I listened, off and on.

Toward the end of my walk, three songs got me thinking about spiritual warfare.

The first was Switchfoot’s “This is Your Life (Are You Who You Want to Be?).” My sister used to have it as the “hold” music on her voicemail. That one line always stopped me in my tracks, silenced the churning chatter of my thoughts, and made me consider whether I was living deliberately at all or just lurching through my days, reacting to the demands life threw at me.

The next song was “Hit Me with Your Best Shot.” I know, I know—frothy, silly snark. “Well you’re the real tough cookie with the long history / Of breaking little hearts, like the one in me / That’s O.K., lets see how you do it / Put up your dukes, and let’s get down to it! / Hit me with your best shot!”

Sir Thomas More described Satan as a “proud spirit [who] cannot endure to be mocked.” So if Satan (or any other demon) had this Pat Benatar lyric flung at him, would he be provoked to attack or insulted into retreating? I couldn’t help but snicker at that idea. (Okay, so deep inside, some part of me is still fourteen. Big surprise.)

The last song was the Eagles’ “Heartache Tonight.” I remember roller skating to it during junior high. “Somebody’s gonna hurt someone / before the night is through. / Somebody’s gonna come undone. / There’s nothin’ we can do. / Everybody wants to touch somebody / if it takes all night. / Everybody wants to take a little chance, / make it come out right. / There’s gonna be a heartache tonight, / a heartache tonight, I know. / There’s gonna be a heartache tonight, / a heartache tonight, I know. / Lord, I know.”

I had a hard time arguing with that. (Except for the line “There’s nothin’ we can do”—and even that seems true sometimes.) We’re all broken. Somebody’s always coming undone. Sometimes it’s us; often it’s someone we love. We live in a fallen world. We all struggle with temptation and with sins for which we have an innate inclination. We watch people we love suffer, get beat up by the world, and make destructive choices—in spite of our best efforts to protect them and influence them (or even control them!). We work to untangle lies and beliefs in our own hearts—the lies we soak up from the enemy, our culture, and even our own families versus the truth of God’s Word, the truth that He offers love, mercy, light, healing, creativity, redemption, and transformation. He pours them out, sometimes without our even noticing.

I was mildly surprised but pleased that God had, indeed, chosen some songs to float me out of my sour mood and self-pity.

Then about an hour after I returned home from my walk, a friend called. She felt like she was under attack. She was about to step into a bigger role in ministry, a position where she’d be instrumental in helping a lot of hurting people. So Satan was trying to derail her. He was pushing her buttons like nobody’s business, using things she’d struggled with in the past—and made tremendous progress with—to distract her, undermine her, drain her energy and focus, and pile on the guilt. I listened, and we talked, and I affirmed that she was right. She was under attack! We prayed together on the phone.

When we hung up, she went away encouraged. And I was humbled. Those songs I heard on my walk and the idea that they all related to spiritual warfare—that was a gift from God. But the gift was not intended just for my own encouragement or amusement. It was preparation for my friend’s phone call, preparation for prayer. It was not, as I’d thought, just lightweight, enjoyable reflection on spiritual warfare, but rather a call to awareness of spiritual warfare so that I’d recognize it when I saw it and be able to lend a hand. It had been a call to arms.

Isn’t God amazing? He turned such poor raw materials, my crankiness and a few pop songs, into an opportunity to prepare me for prayer, for battle. Surely He is our Creator still. Who else could do that?

Thank You, Lord.

Question: What has God given you to pass along to others?