By Kevin Squires | Senior Director of Church Partnerships My two sons (ages 11 and seven) recently asked me if they could download a song from iTunes that’s “not on the Christian radio stations”. I almost spit my drink across the room! It wasn’t because we, as a family, are opposed to music that doesn’t shout Jesus in often-random places throughout the song. The shock came from the fact that my two hoodlums had a joint meeting in their conference room (bedroom) to discuss who was going to ask Mom and Dad if they could “change the course of time” by adding a little secular music into their life.
The slightly-above-decent parent that I am followed up their brave ask with a simple question, “What song is it?”
My oldest son looked at the floor and mumbled, “Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots.” The slightly-below-cool parent that I am had never heard of them. So, I donned my CIA badge of parenthood, opened my laptop, and began stalking these group of pilots. I found the song quite catchy, like something I would have listened to when I cared about being cool . . . like way back in the 90s. I was struck by some of these lyrics:
Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol' days, When our momma sang us to sleep but now we're stressed out. Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol' days, When our momma sang us to sleep but now we're stressed out.
We used to play pretend, give each other different names, We would build a rocket ship and then we'd fly it far away, Used to dream of outer space but now they're laughing at our face, Saying, "Wake up, you need to make money."
My sons were quite ecstatic to hear that I approved their song choice. They took off running to their conference roo- uh, I mean . . . bedroom to download their new favorite song. Meanwhile, I quietly sneaked off to my home office to listen to the song again, and again, and admittedly, again–you know–strictly for research purposes for a well-educated parent.
The song got me thinking about the good ol’ days. It’s not that these days aren’t good, but I have to admit, life gets hard as we grow older. I’m tired, but reminded that the apostle Paul tells us in 2 Thessalonians 3:13 to “not grow weary in doing good.” I hear you, Paul, but I must confess that the thought of doing good makes me weary sometimes.
I’ve worked in full time ministry for 17 years. I would like to say that I’m always godly, that I always see the best in people, and that I don’t get frustrated with my own lack of perfection. But, I’m often embarrassed by some of my mistakes, and I realize that some of my moral failures brought me and my loved ones some added stress through the years. I wish, sometimes, that we could “turn back time/to the good ol’ days.”
Fortunately, yet sometimes painstakingly, God doesn’t allow that. Instead, he uses the bumps in our road to show us His amazing grace.
Grace. Seems like it’s vanishing these days . . . not just in how little we extend it to others, or how rarely we extend it to ourselves, but also in how much we ignore the free buffet of grace given to us by God. Unfortunately, all too often, grace is hard to find in the church. Agendas and self-promotion battle their way to the forefront, often leaving what Christ called “The Way” behind. Churches, made up of sinners, fall and fall hard. And when we fall, we get hurt. And as the saying goes, “hurt people hurt people”.
In many ways, listening to “Stressed Out” by those pilot guys reminded me that you can’t just turn back time to the good ol’ days. You have to eventually find the grace in today.
Here are the five ways I went from stressed out to finding grace:
- I am nothing; He is everything. And that is more than okay with me!
- Success is measured in Kingdom gains, not personal gains. Success in life is not success if it harms the Body of Christ.
- When the going gets tough, the tough realize they are not alone. Christ didn’t give us the human capacity to deal with the toughness of life on our own. But, through the divine capacity of His Spirit, He is able to see us through it.
- In a day and age that stresses the importance of leadership, Christ is primarily looking for followership. He is doing something great in the world, so quit trying to always blaze trails, and learn to follow Him. The journey is always worth it!
- Prayer guides your journey. Corrie Ten Boom once asked, “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” Prayer won’t just get you out of ruts; it will also help you avoid them.