Last winter, everything was supposed to be coming together. I had served my time in Texas, my degree was finished, and I was ready to move on to bigger and better things. But I didn’t have any clear direction, hadn’t met my significant other and still had more flaws than a religious professional “ought” to.
I was in that grey area between concern and freak out.
One day, driving home from work after spending far too much time pondering and not enough praying, I thought I ought to just calm down. Worrying doesn’t help anything and shows a lack of trust in God. Thus, listening to Christian music on the way home would show God that I was determined about trusting Him and, if I knew the words, I would sing along.
I am not exactly sure what sort of evil plan was hatched by the programming directors of all Christian music/programming stations in DFW that day, but every single station was horrible. One was a preacher, well advanced in age, preaching some message that required “Hell” be pronounced with two syllables. Another was a gospel choir with more than a few members who preferred to search for notes instead of singing them. My last effort resulted in a rather poor Damien Rice wannabe butchering one of the four popular songs every artist is required to cover. Three strikes occurred, so I went secular.
I had mostly metal and country in my truck, but there was one soothing option – Bob Marley.
I know, Bob Marley was a Rasta and smoked copious amounts of weed, but he sang a lot about peace and love, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Especially since “No Woman, No Cry” speaks to being in good shape without a current lady friend or one on deck.
I hadn’t listened to Bob in a while, and I didn’t understand what words he was using in a couple of places, but it set up a nice soundtrack for me to express some of my concerns to The Almighty. (I swear I’m going somewhere with this that doesn’t arrive at me growing dreadlocks and starting a drum circle ministry at church.)
As I was basically pointing out to God that I had no idea where things were going, what He wanted me to do or why I was still in Texas, Bob Marley erupted into the chorus of the song.
It was quite simple, but was the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard up to that point.
“Everything is gonna be alright. Everything is gonna be alright.” And it just repeated until I got the point. Did God just use Bob Marley to get a point across to me?!?
I didn’t get a transcript from Heaven for that day, but I know those words hit me like a hammer. I’d been looking for a word, or a sign, or anything that would help me make sense of my situation, and I got automatic clarity with that song.
Honestly, I was moved. I even teared up a bit. Everything is gonna be alright.
Bob wasn’t the first person to ever say those words or introduce the concept, but it gave me a better understanding of God and my relationship with him. Jesus covered a major section on worrying in the Sermon on the Mount, pointing out that believers should trust God and nature is our evidence that He will take care of us.
But I’d been scanning the Bible for “key verses” that would tell me what to do. I’d searched “Christian” radio for an inspiring message or song. I’d even been super serious during prayer time at church, and I was still getting nothing.
What I drew out of that experience is fairly simple: God made everything, and everything is His, even if fallen people have perverted those things.
He’s not limited to speaking though “Christian” means, so he can use Bob Marley if He wants to. That also means that my place in His design doesn’t have to be overtly churchy or relegated to acceptable evangelical models.
“Everything is gonna be alright” is such a simple concept, but I’d been looking for deep and spiritual meaning for my station in life and what it all meant. Do I have to know exactly how everything is going to work out, or is it enough to be useful for God but lack clarity?
Up until that day I would have given the right answer but not believed it. Now, especially after I’ve seen how my life has developed since that point, I’m better at trusting that God will let me know when major changes need to happen but, until then, I don’t need to worry but just be useful.
*Photo credit: Hudson Gardner