I was sitting in church the other day, listening to the worship music, when something occurred to me. That particular song had a sense of dissonance and clash that instantly turned the heart over, reminding me what it feels like to hurt and bleed and be in pain. But a gentle melody threaded its way through, giving a strand of hope within the dark. That song was such a picture of life. A glimpse of God’s story within our world.
The power of music, of art in all its forms. . . I think it is the rhyme and rhythm within the wild ache and clash of sound that draws us. The sense within the senselessness, the plot and story and balance of an artistic piece, the steady beat amidst all the bloodshed of life.
When there is dissonance in a song, I feel the reality of it. The terrible realness of all that surrounds us. But as the music flows together into something that makes sense, hope rises within me. It is the same for story. So much opposition is thrown up against the main character that the reader is sure life will squelch him in an arbitrary wash of senseless trouble and toil. But then there is that glimmer, that “for such a time as this” moment. The reader and the hero both realize that life is not a senseless tangle of horror. That they are where they stand for a reason. When a story finally wraps up, with all the threads untangled and the hero facing down the horror of his situation and becoming more than what he was before, it thrills the heart.
For isn’t that the ache in every heart? The longing to matter. Sometimes this world looks like a terrible mass of writhing destruction. War, enslavement, torture, destruction, tears. There are so many examples in the news and within the angry depths of our very own hearts that I shudder. And yet . . . I look outside and see a thick curtain and snow, drifting down in gentle perfection. Each flake a delicate work of art, unique and yet the same. Trees stretch out their limbs, soaking in the sun’s power and purifying the air around us. My children learn and grow, taller and more complicated every day. People change and forgive and move on to become more than anyone thought they could become. In real life, not just in the stories.
There is a thread of reason within the terrible weight of darkness. There is God. Creator, Conqueror, Father, Friend. One who molds and makes the sensible order that flows all around us. One who chose to step down into our chaos and carve out a path to freedom.
Isaiah 9:2–“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”
Isn’t this why the heart lifts when we hear a song, gaze upon a powerful painting, or fall into the pages of a book? The clash and bruising of reality in art pulls you forward, but the thread of hope in that one elegant strand of order frees the heart and makes us hope. We hope that we too are more than we appear, that there is a happy ending somewhere through the darkness that requires us to take that next terrible step forward.
God speaks to us in so many ways. I am so glad that He stirred the human soul to sing and paint and write and dance, to be like Him, to create. His story is all about us, if only we are willing to pause and to see.