I was really excited the other day to find Matt's CD of Jars of Clay's self-titled album. I got the cassette tape of that album for Christmas in 1996 or so, but as with so many other tapes I've enjoyed for a decade or more, it broke a while back. So, it has been great to listen to that this past week, enjoying the combination of good music and good theology that is hard to find in Christian music.
My favorite song on that album is one that I probably didn't appreciate at first, but over time came to find absolutely spiritually gut-wrenching. The song, "Worlds Apart", uses that phrase first in the sense of what a great chasm there is between what we are and the way we should be. "All I am for all You are, what I need and what I believe are worlds apart." That chasm has brought me to tears numerous times in the last few years, as the coldhearted, hateful, prideful, and selfish person I often am falls so short of what I would ideally be.
Toward the end of the song, the words "worlds apart" shift, becoming part of a prayer for God's help in bringing us closer to that ideal self. Our pride and selfishness often comes with the routine and comfort we surround ourselves in, while it is often in the loss of what we know and love that we grow closer to God and more pure of heart:
Steal my heart and take the pain, wash my feet and cleanse my pride, take the selfish, take the weak, and all the things I cannot hide. Take my beauty, take my tears, send them so far, make it clear. Take my world all apart, take it now, take it now, and serve the ones that I despise, speak the words I can't deny, watch the world I used to love fall to dust and fall away...
That must be the most frightening prayer we can pray. We all want to be better people, but to submit ourselves to the crises and life changes that might help us in that process--holy crap. That's the gut-wrenching part. I pray those words as I sing it, but with fearful reservations--am I really praying a willingness to lose my home or my belongings, my loved ones or my health?
John Wesley prayed this, in what seems to be a less gut-wrenching way, but maybe it's just the 18th century decorum that seems to tame it.
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,
exalted for you or brought low for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine, and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.
The message is the same--a radical invitation to God to come into your life and do whatever it takes for you to serve God and the world in the most Christlike way possible. "Whatever" is a very scary word.