“Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize for the inconvenience but there is a slight issue with the left engine. We will have to return to the gate so the crew can resolve the problem.“
As I heard these words, I took a deep breath. This was the second delay of our D.C. bound flight out of Dallas. The first delay was because of a medical emergency on the incoming flight and required a cushion to be replaced and medical supplies be restocked. No need for concern, other than who would be sitting in that special seat.
An hour later, we finally boarded our plane, buckled in and eased out of the gate which was when the captain announced the engine trouble.
For me, the mention of engine trouble reminds me of every aeronautic disaster I can remember, from the Shuttle explosion to the unexpected landing of Flight 1549 on the Hudson River. And, of course, it triggers my own 9/11 wound.
I might have a tiny teeny amount of aviation anxiety.
So with my growing unease, I turned on my cell phone and opened the Prayer-As-You-Go app. Praying seems like a good idea when there’s engine trouble.
The podcast began with a beautiful chorus by Margaret Rizza:
I know what you are thinking. This was a God moment. And it was. The music calmed my inner storm of apprehension and restored my vision of Immanuel.
As the chorus gave way to a beautiful instrumental interlude, I had a startling epiphany. I realized how grateful I was to be raised in a church that exposed me to sacred and classical music.
In this era of Hillsongs, iTunes and contemporary worship, this might sound like I have become a traitor or a liberal…or both. Not true.
I have come to realize that much of the music that infused my childhood church experience was written by saints to glorify God. Bach was one of these people. He wrote SDG on all his compositions—soli deo Gloria. Worship music wasn’t just discovered in the twentieth century. Its been around a long time, just ebbing and flowing in style.
The liturgical style of my childhood denomination required introits, prayer responses, anthems and postludes. So this created opportunities for musicians to fill choirs, brass groups, chamber ensembles and even a full orchestra. I grew up in this musical milieu and found my niche in the orchestra.
Theologically, however, my experience was not as rich. The church was built on the faulty footing of its founder and prophet whose doctrines bound me in confusion and fear.
I was afraid I would die without confessing all my sins.
I was afraid of the “close of probation.”
I was afraid that my good deeds wouldn’t outweigh my bad ones.
I was afraid. Always afraid.
When Jesus finally got my attention, I faced a dilemma. He invited me to follow Him, which meant leaving my comfortable musical world along with everything familiar. Count the cost, Jesus said. After a six-month struggle, I decided I could no longer attend a church founded on error, so I left. I left my friends, my family and my chair in the orchestra. I walked out into an unfamiliar world, including a church with drums, guitars and unreadable chord charts.
All of this brings me to the idea of honor.
The Bible says “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.” (Ex 20:12) For years, I wrestled with what it meant to honor my mother. I believed it meant staying in the relationship, even if it was toxic.
Then one day everything changed.
I learned that we can honor parents even when they are dead. God told the children of Israel to honor their parents as they were entering the Promised Land, long after their parents died. So honor has nothing to do with being in a relationship with someone.
I learned that honor is from the Hebrew word kabed which means to be heavy, weighty, or burdensome. When we honor, we are giving weight to what we have been given, both good and bad. This implies gratitude for the positives and a reliance on God for the areas of deficit.
I learned that for many of us, church has been as influential and formative as our parents. So why not spend some time honoring the church? During my own faith journey, I spent a lot of time weighing the hefty weaknesses of the church and looking to God for recovery and restoration of my faith but I hadn’t spent much time looking at the benefits of my church of origin. My honoring was slightly askew.
As I sat on the tarmac that day listening to the storm song, my gratitude for the music of my childhood surprised me. I realize now that many of the song lyrics I heard when I was a child actually pointed to Jesus. Even though I didn’t know Him then, the hymns and carols testified of his love for me. Now that I know Him, the music is even sweeter.
Thank you, God, for the music of my childhood.
GENEVA CHINNOCK is a writer and author of Becoming His Beloved: Journey into the Father’s Affection. Geneva has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master in Business Administration. In her spare time, Geneva loves reading, eating bacon and attending live theater. She lives in Southern California with her husband and blogs about matters of faith at TreasuredbyGod.com.