For Sunday, July 20, 2014
Sixth Sunday After Pentecost
In Gen. 28, one of this week’s readings, Jacob has a dream of a stairway to heaven. Having grown up in the 1970’s my mind immediately goes to Led Zeppelin’s song of the same name. Are you still here? Figure I probably lost a few people there, but think about it: why would Led Zeppelin draw upon the biblical imagery of this story in this song? It’s because they are speaking to a spiritual problem. The song’s lyrics begin:
There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.
When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for.
Ooh, ooh, and she’s buying a stairway to heaven.
As one interpreter puts it insightfully, the song is about a woman who has based her life entirely on the pursuit of material things. She’s sure that “all that glitters is gold” and that she can buy her way to heaven. In actual fact when she arrives at heaven’s gates there is a sign saying that she cannot enter because “her life lacks a spiritual base.” So continue the lyrics:
There’s a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure
‘Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.
In a tree by the brook, there’s a songbird who sings,
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.
Ooh, it makes me wonder
The end of the song brings the dilemma to a point of decision:
And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul.
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold.
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last. . .
We “wind down the road, our shadows taller than our soul” because our souls are so shrunken spiritually by our material world. What then is the remedy? The words of this week’s second reading, Psalm 139 (vv. 23, 24), is the tune we’ve been listening for:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
I certainly know the lady in the song because I see how often, as my friend Gary Gregg puts it, that I “believe the lie embedded in the offer”. I don’t want my life to be about the chase for material more. I want it to be about Jesus, forgiveness, repentance, grace, and peace. One way I can do this is by not letting other interests crowd out a daily devotional time with God. Another way is to keep the gospel in the forefront and let any purchasing serve that greater purpose.
We cannot buy the stairway to heaven for the price of entry is far beyond our ability to pay. Fortunately, the stair’s builder has made a way for us through the death of his son, if we will only repent and believe.
Points to ponder:
- To what extent do you know the lady in the song? How is God calling you this week to build up the stature of your soul?
- What other thoughts or questions do the lyrics of this song bring to mind for you?