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Music and the Spirit

I learned something about myself yesterday that I had never really thought about before.

I’ve been involved in sales for most of my adult life. An interesting thing about being a sales guy is that you can work as long and as hard as you can — but if you don’t make the sale, you don’t eat (and neither does your family). Its not quite as “caveman” as that — just a bit less life and death — but you may understand that it creates a different kind of pressure than a steady salaried job might create.

In the last few hours before and during the actual event of making a live sales call with a customer — especially when a big, competitive deal is on the table — I get a major burst of adrenaline. I’m not sure what the mechanism is that makes this happen, but my body noticably injects this natural drug into my system — and I begin functioning, thinking and reacting at a different level. Some of this is very good. And some of this is not so good. Over time, and with practice in front of the customer, you can appear to be very calm and measured — all the while you might be dealing with the physiological impact of adrenaline being pumped into your system.

But at least for me, I have noticed that regardless of the outcome of the sales call, in those cases where I have definately felt the adrenaline working — the aftermath is somewhat of a crash. And sometimes, it crashes hard and fast.

This can bring about all sorts of different behavior in different people, but let’s just say that at a minimum there is sometimes a noticable physiological and/or phsychological impact following those times that can be a drag at the very least.

It was only by chance as I was experiencing this crash while driving home the other day from a very successful competitive sales call, that I turned on my iPod to do my usual drive-time activity, listening to preaching podcasts. I had realized from previous experience that I don’t learn very well from the preaching when in that state — but it was at least a distraction (albeit a very dishonoring one to ignore the message when it is being given).

But I accidentally hit the music button instead and a song I liked came on — so I listened for a while. And it was quite enjoyable (vs. being grumpy), so I played another and another — eventually understanding that listening to this music was having a very positive impact on my adrenaline crash. That was neat to recognize, because I hadn’t ever thought about it before.

So I did some searching through the Bible (the best source for understanding the truth of things) and came across a neat story that speaks to how God allowed music to sooth a troubled spirit in King Saul:

1 Samuel 16:14-23

Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him. Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the harp. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes upon you, and you will feel better.

So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.” One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him.”

Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul. David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.”

Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.

This was encouraging to find — because it leaves open the possibility that God did have a plan for music to be uplifting in the life of his servants. Now, let’s not argue about what kind of music, because there are certainly some types that are honoring to God and some that very definately are NOT — with lots of ground in between. Find what works for you and I won’t judge, I’ll leave that up to God. But I have a feeling that it needs to be a certain type of music that appeals both to the individual and is acceptable to our Lord to have this impact.

For me, that was a very real experience, and very helpful to understand. The outcome of it was that my mood was lifted back to positive and I was able to have meaningful interaction with my wife and children upon arriving home an hour later instead of being grumpy with them or withdrawing completely (or worse). Being present and involved with your wife and kids is an essential part of God’s plan for marriage and family. Be careful not to blame your lack of skillful interaction with family on the circumstances of your job.

I’m going to try to be prepared for that feeling next time — and have a playlist ready to go on my iPod with the right types of music to see if this pattern repeats itself. What a value that would be to have something to combat the “evil spirit” of this adrenaline withdraw. And it is my hope that this message might be helpful to some of you as well.

Lord, thank you for the immeasurable gifts you have given to your children. Gifts to strengthen, encourage and uplift your servants that can be called upon in their time of need. Help us understand how to use these gifts in a manner that is pleasing to you, and how to access the power within them to better model the spirit of Christ in our lives. I ask this in Christ’s precious name. Amen.

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