There is something beautiful about listening to music on a 45.

Now, I may not be old enough to remember when 45’s came out (for those of you who don’t know what a 45 is, it’s a record that was listened to at 45 revolutions per minute… KNOW YOUR ROOTS!!!), but I can appreciate the beauty of listening to music on a record.  Growing up, my mom would get out her old 45’s from when she was a high school student, spread them out on the living room floor, and we would listen for hours as the record needle went around.  There was something about the rawness of that music recording that I loved and would move me.  

Time for your rock history lesson.  In the recording industry, when records were the only way to go, music was recorded using an analogue system. There wasn’t any studio work to enhance the music. What they actually did in the studio is what was heard. In some instances, there have been various noises in the background of songs that couldn’t be edited out. Some examples: breaking of drum sticks, shoe tapping, and the occasional coke machine (this happened on multiple Elvis 45’s).  It’s beautiful to listen to. You hear the little mistakes and technical tendencies of the musicians. It’s not fake. It’s raw and authentic. It may have taken a few tries to get the song to that point, but none the less, it was what it was.

Today, we live in a culture of digitally enhanced, perfected music. Good looking people are able to have “music” careers because they have computer geniuses making them sound good. Their songs are flawless, not a hint of error. The pitches and rhythms of every “musician” lines up flawlessly. You listen to their albums for hours upon hours only to find out they are terrible in concert or they have to lip sync everything. In other words, the perfection created in the studio is, well, fake.  As a musician, it’s frustrating and heart-breaking to see pretty faces get signed before actual talent.  Heart-breaking and ear-hurting. Any who…   

As I was saying, there is a something beautiful about listening to music on a 45, and following the Lord is no different.

Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9a)

Think about it.

He doesn’t want us to have it all together when we come to Him. He wants us to come with all our flaws and imperfections, so He can be more glorified through us. This isn’t to say we should aim to make mistakes over and over again. No, that would be a waste of time and resources.  You would have never heard one of the Beatles doing that in the studio, so why would act that way in life?  We offer our best because we want to perfect our craft. We’re going to mess up, but the authenticity of presenting who we really are before God and man is something beautiful.  We don’t quit because of a flaw.  We make the next go around better, not making the same mistakes.  When we manufacture our lives to look perfect, to have every note and rhythm line up exactly, it’s not real. Hard times happen. Mistakes will be made. Perfection is a goal that cannot be met, though it is the goal of both musicians and believers.   

In verses 12:7-8 in 2 Corinthians, Paul shares how he has a thorn in his side. He never states what the thorn is, but Paul has stuff in his life that causes him to mess up, to not live the perfect Christian life, and he’s Paul.  He wrote most of the New Testament.  Talk about a rock star!  Okay, the thing is, he doesn’t hide the FACT that he is a sinner and messes up. He has flaws. He makes mistakes. He gets off pitch a little bit. Paul responds to Christ,

“Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for CHRIST’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, THEN I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:9b-10, emphasis added)

Crazy thought, huh? Coming honestly and openly before God with mess ups, hang ups, and occasional Coke machines in the background actually allows Christ to show off more. It’s not a digitally mastered life. It is a life that is authentic, raw, and well… beautiful. When the hard times come in front of other people, like those concerts, it matches up . The work done in the studio of private devotion comes out on the stage for the world to see. Hopefully, we aren’t so tweaked and disingenuous in the studio, that we are found majoring lacking in concert.  It think that’s why there has been this big push in the music industry for records over digital music.  It’s real and honest. Let’s face it, that’s what people are looking for: honesty. 

Sit back. Listen to a 45. Meditate on who God is and how gracious He is. It’s freeing to know we don’t have to have it all together. Christ’s power is made perfect in our weakness. Wait. Perfect? Not seems to be perfect, but actually perfect.  Broken sticks and all.

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