Updated: Jan 31
When I first met my wife, Lyn, and had my first feelings of deep and profound love for her, I made her a CD of love songs.
The songs were focused, in my mind, on a love of God, although none of the songs I selected were written by the songwriters with that purpose in mind … as far as I know. The lyrics were favorites of mine, in the sense that they spoke to me about my relationship to God, which had only recently evolved, causing me to understand old songs in a new light. The entire CD was a reflection of my evolved relationship with God and Christ, which was also being reflected in my new relationship with Lyn. I ordered the songs so they symbolically told of this evolution in my life, which had led Lyn and I to become attracted to one another, because of a mutual love of God and Christ.
One of the songs on the CD is by my most favorite group, Tears For Fears. The name of the song is Advice for the Young at Heart. I want to read you some of the lyrics.
It begins, “Advice for the young at heart: Soon we will be older. When we gonna make it work?”
It then continues, “I could be happy. I could be quite naïve. It’s only me and my shadows, happy in our make believe … cos it would be okay to walk on tiptoes everyday, and when I think of you and all the love that’s due, I’ll make a promise, I’ll make a stand.” The song then moves on to say, “Love is promise. Love is a souvenir, once given never forgotten. Never let it disappear. This could be our last chance. When we gonna make it work?”
In both our lives, Lyn and I fit those words. Were we going to take a leap of faith? Would we make it work and commit to one another?
Still, this song talks to me as a psalm of praise to God. Those who praise God find support through others who also praise God, so that a love of God becomes translated as reciprocated love, for others, to another. Because I love God, I am able to love Lyn.
The last word of the song is the same as the first – “advice.” We are advised, not forced to love. We choose to love God, just as we choose to prove our love through our actions.
We are advised through the prophets, like Daniel, to love God as one of the “holy ones of the Most High.”
We are advised by David, the psalmist who wrote, “Sing to the LORD a new song; sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful.”
We are advised by Paul, when he wrote to the Ephesians, “I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints.”
We are advised by Jesus to, “Love, do good, bless others, pray for others, forgive others, give to others.” Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” You can only do that through love.
The question is, “When we gonna make it work?”
All Saints’ Day was last Friday, but we recognize it today. Keep in mind that all properly known “Saints” are those deemed by churches, most notably the Roman Catholic Church. Saint Stephen was deemed a saint, probably, around 450 AD, when someone thought it a good idea to list the special human beings who displayed how evident it was that Christ was within them.
All Soul’s Day, which was recognized yesterday, is a celebration of all who have died and gone to heaven, having been sin free. There is a difference between a “soul” and a “saint,” thus two different days of recognition.
Therefore, All Saints’ Day” is a day to recall all who have made the commitment of love to God, through Christ, and have become married to the Holy Spirit. That marriage is one to “let the faithful rejoice in triumph” over sin, as Psalm 149 sings.
The Holy Spirit is not to be confused with ordinary spirit. In the reading from the Book of Daniel, he admitted having fear from seeing the visions in his dream. He wrote, “my spirit was troubled within me, and the visions of my head terrified me.” He was talking of the spirit that gives us life, which is the direct link between a body of physical elements and cells, to which a soul brings life. Without that spirit our bodies would be as dead as the dust we walk upon. We all have spirit, and our spirits can get depressed, fearful, tickled, and uplifted. Like the four directions of the winds, we are emotionally blown in all directions.
This means our spirit within is affected by external stimulus, but like in Daniel’s case, we experience imaginary things that also affects our real bodies. Thus, our spirit connects us to God, simply because our soul is an extension of God, as God’s gift to us. That voice inside our head, the one that tells us, “do it,” or “don’t do it,” it can come from God’s good angels, or it can come from another one, the one who delights in tricking us into sin. Our spirit alone cannot make us do the right thing, leading us so we always make the right choices. Because of our past records of sinful failure, we learn to distrust that voice in our heads, and to resist urges to do things … good or bad.
We are given physical life in a material world, a world created by God for our pleasures. The world is a place where we can sing, dance, rejoice and be joyful. It is a place of sensual delights that can intoxicate the physical body and numb the soul. But, it can be a frightening place too. We are lured too often towards self-serving ends, rather than sacrificial ends.
In a way, the world can be compared to those Febreze commercials, where trashy places and things, full of terrible smells, are sprayed with an odor eliminator. Then, blindfolded people sit amid what would ordinarily be unbearable conditions, but in their imagination they see visions of places that associate with the sweet fragrances they sense.
Faith in God, through a marriage with his Holy Spirit, makes a stinky world a happy place. It disconnects us from being externally influenced and lets us only hear the voice of the good angel.
How else are we supposed to do as Jesus instructed?
How else are the poor ever going to feel blessed? The kingdom of God is what seems imaginary, while the promises of politicians seem so much more inviting, as real. Are politicians then saints for promising good things that mask the odors of a real life?
How are the hungry going to be filled so their physical bellies no longer ache to the point of hopelessness? Will submission to death be better for them? Or should we bless governments and organizations, who play the guilt and pity cards to get our money; and then, supposedly, they do our work for us? Are governments then worthy of sainthood?
Are we blessed when terrorists attack our institutions, saying their actions were motivated by our failures to be true Christians, so that they hate us for saying we are Christians, but not acting as we say? Can a pseudo-Christian ever become a saint?
Are we supposed to die poor in order to be blessed? Or, are we supposed to use our wealth to share with others who may or may not be capable of not wasting it? Are tax accountants saints?
Are we supposed to see a comfortable life as God’s blessings, so that we can hear all the warnings of the prophets and then say to ourselves and others, “I feel sorry for those who God will punish?” How many Pharisees were saints? Are there figurative Pharisees today?
How can we love our enemies when they are our enemies?
How can we do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who abuse us?
Is it not the spineless and weak who get attacked by terrorists and do nothing?
Should we let rights be stolen from us, and then say, “Wait. You left too many. Take the rest.”?
When a nation is so far in debt it cannot even pay the interest on the debt, should we say, “Here, take all that my children’s children’s children will earn, and all that I have too. We will tighten our belts.”?
How can we truly do unto others as we would have them do unto us, if nothing we ever do is right, and always unjust?
The answers are impossible to come by, at least if we see answers as coming from our feeble brains – individually and collectively. The saying goes, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” We are not bright enough to run our lives as Jesus told us to.
Neither were all the saints, before they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
It is so easy to hear what to do. It is so hard to make the decision: Do I commit now, or do I come up with more excuses that will make it easier for me to keep from committing?
“Working hour is over and how it makes me weep. Cos someone sent my soul to sleep. And when I think of you and all the love that’s due, I’ll make a promise, I’ll make a stand, cos to these big brown eyes, this comes as no surprise, we’ve got the whole wide world in our hands.”
“Advice for the young at heart: Soon we will be older.”
“When we gonna make it work?”