Excerpt: This is meant for believers and/or musicians to read. It occurred to me only last night that I had several years of spiritual blockage in one aspect of my life. Read on to find out exactly what happened and how I realised I was being tricked by my own pride, into glorifying the Other.
I have been writing songs since 1992. I used to be pretty prolific. I even won a book prize for one song. However in the last few years my inspiration dried up. Where, previously I’d scramble to find pieces of paper to copy down music phrases that came into my head, I’d now sit and stare at a blank stack of foolscap paper, forcing myself to complete that last rhyme, or write something more tuneful.
What went wrong? Was I distracted with work? Was I getting too caught up in the process of hooking up my studio and experimenting with too many new styles? Or was I just being plain lazy?
The real issue could have been something much deeper, and more insidious.
Around my 2nd-3rd year in law school, I came up with a tune with lyrics that (now as a Christian) I would consider spiritually disturbing. At the time, not knowing God fully, not attending church or reading His Word regularly, my attitude towards Good and Evil was fairly cavalier. But I did know some of the things I did at the time would not be acceptable if I had chosen to be Christian, and I rebelled against it.
One day, inspiration hit me again and I wrote a song called ‘Fallen Angel’. Now I usually don’t like putting my lyrics online, seeing how I’ve had real nightmares of people copying my songs and thus denying me of my rightful claim to the #1 chart-topping record (‘righhht…’, you say). But I don’t think I will ever want to get this song published anymore, even if it sounds like Depeche Mode at its uber-darkest.
The first verse goes,
Look outside your window
Pull your curtains apart
I’m the Fallen Angel
And you’ve taken my heart
I even pictured the music video. Someone would be standing in my room in my dorm, looking outside the window to the car park below, with a creepy-looking version of me, looking back at them below.
I had wanted to be in the shoes of an angel who had fallen from grace (not knowing at the time that there was no chance of redemption for all angels who had chosen to follow Lucifer and not God. My idea of fallen angels at the time, was Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in Dogma. Fortunately, I wasn’t dumb enough to believe that Alanis could ever be God, or that a naked Chris Rock could ever be Jesus).
So I thought it was harmless, a little ‘sacrilegious’ but then again, I listened to songs titled ‘Blasphemous Rumours’ and ‘Personal Jesus’ and it was all cool to me.
What didn’t help was that when I got back to Singapore, I produced the song and it sounded pretty good. When I got my new keyboard, I re-produced it and it sounded even better. I put in angelic voices with haunting reverb effects. I was proud of it, thinking, “I can produce dark music.”
Of course by that time I had already given my life to Christ and something was nagging at me. On one hand, I was playing songs of worship at church, with my bible study group, at home for enjoyment. Then I’d go to my studio and belt out lyrics about being all dark and rejected. Then I’d go to sleep with hymns playing on my stereo system. Something wasn’t right here.
But I blatantly ignored it, giving all sorts of excuses ranging from “I didn’t intend for it to be evil at the time, so it’s OK,” to “It still sounds cool. God knows I don’t mean what I sing.”
I’ve been singing this song for over 5 years and it never fully clicked in my head. I studied James and the power of the tongue – how can the same instrument utter blessings and curses? The thought never occurred to me in a musical sense (hymns versus self-worship or the Other), but it could explain why I hardly write music anymore, or am unable to complete whatever I start. This was a form of spiritual blockage!
I had told myself I could never scrap such a ‘cool’ song because I might never be able to write one like that again. That was relying on Self, and not on the talents God has given me to create better music in place of it. Pride and rebelliousness worked themselves together in a most insidious way, allowing me to repeatedly glorify something that was not of God.
That night, after singing the song again, I finally felt the Holy Spirit urging me to realise what I had been doing all these years. I had prayed earnestly, earlier that day, for openness amongst me and my bible study mates, so we could hear God’s Word clearly. Well, after several years God finally got through to me on this issue.
Can you imagine the feeling of euphoria I now have? I feel exultance. The scales have been lifted from my eyes. The song means nothing to me now. I’ve trashed the music file from my iPod and Mac. I’ve trashed the production files too. I won’t ever want to finish producing it, or play it again. Better things will be written. Not my will, but God’s, be done! Amen.