Saturday, March 12, 2011

Communicating Yourself

King David, when he was just a page in King Saul’s court, used to play music when a demon would come on King Saul.  The music calmed him down and helped him control himself.  
I wonder if the power of David’s music did not completely lie in music itself, but in David’s playing it.  
I am not a musical person.  I play no instrument, sing badly and seldom listen to music--background or otherwise.  Nevertheless, I have noticed that live music has a quality that I don’t notice in recorded music.  Somehow in live music the player is present in some ways that are not noticeable (at least to me) when I listen to a recording of what I had first heard live.
I have found this particularly noticeable when I know the person who is playing.  I have many times felt that I was looking into a corner of the musician’s soul while I was listening to his or her playing or singing.
To me it is somewhat like a lecture or homily.  The effect of the speech--especially if it is on a spiritual or deeply personal topic--is affected a good deal by the person who delivers the speech.  I’m not just talking about delivery technique, although (as in music) technique plays a large part.  Yet beyond technique, there is something of the soul of the speaker that is often revealed in the speaking.  And this vibration from the speaker’s soul can touch our own and incline it toward or away from what he or she is saying.
And so I return to King David.  Was it, perhaps, the quality of his secret relationship with God, a relationship developed over years of watching sheep in the wilderness, suffering loneliness, fear, cold nights, hot days and injustice within the family; could it be that such a relationship with God is what was revealed by David’s playing for King Saul?  I think it was.  I think the power of David’s relationship with God was communicated through his music and this is what calmed the demon that attacked King Saul.
A friend of my used to say that a preacher does not communicate information, he communicates himself.  His usual “proof experience” for this was an experience my friend had had in a Protestant church in his youth.  The pastor of the church had been carrying on a secret affair for about a year before he revealed to the congregation what he was doing and resigned his position.  Within a few months of this, six couples in the church divorced.  The pastor had been preaching the Bible, but had been communicating himself.
While this is a negative example, I think the principle works in the positive direction also.
I am sometimes frustrated that I am not able to put into words what is in my heart.  I’m sure I am not alone in experiencing this frustration.  And yet I have hope that whatever it is that I do end up saying (or writing) will somehow reveal a little corner of my soul.  And to the extent that any of the Grace of God is there, I can hope that this will have the desired effect, that Grace, the vibration of Grace, will communicate peace and incline my hearers’ souls toward God.

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