|John Williams with his goad.|
See it was 1977, the age of disco. I'd been listening to a lot of disco and pop music, and some of it was cool and some of it was not quite suitable for a 12-year-old Christian boy to listen to. It was, frankly, a bit of narcissistic lyrics with a catchy beat.
But I was so addicted to that style of music that when I heard the "Meco Star Wars" radio mix, I had to buy it. I rode to K-Mart, but got the original John Williams' Star Wars soundtrack by mistake.
It lasted about one month before I got tired of it..
Then, seizing an opportunity, I saw Star Wars again with my aunt, maybe my fifth time that summer. You had to, you know. I couldn't drive myself to Memphis. There certainly no VCRs, DVDs or any other chance to see it.
This time I heard how the musical score painted the story. I heard how it gave it a heart. Made it epic. It stuck in my mind, my soul. I could even hum the theme.
I went back to K-Mart and bought it again. I laughed at myself. "What I hated, now I like," I thought.
I was surprised I could be so wrong.
It began my lifelong love of soundtracks and my appreciation of classical music, all due to buying that one score the second time. I went to the library and checked out nearly every record in our classical music section. Names I never heard before: Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Holst, Brahms, Rachmaninoff. Essentially, I gave myself a music appreciation class my Mississippi school did not offer.
I soon realized Williams had gotten his inspiration from these masters. He was not utterly original - just the most recent. The music itself was timeless, but I had never heard it. It was too different, too powerful for me to deal with.
I guess that's what surprised me when I met Jesus and became a devout believer back in '95. Previously, I'd only wanted to sit in my pew. I only wanted to be popular and liked. I wanted a disco Jesus, I think. The cool version, the one that didn't tell me what to do and looked soft and kind.
I believe the apostle Paul was just as shocked in his conversion to meet the real Jesus, the Lord of Creation. When Paul stood before King Agrippa in court, he repeated what'd happened to him on the road to Damascus:
13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me.
14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’Now despite any questions you may have at reading this, I need to explain two things. One, Paul added a detail here that wasn't in the original text. To wit, Jesus says "It is hard for you to kick against the goads."
15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting."
A goad is a stick you use to prod a farm animal to make it move the right direction, like a conductor's wand that's three feet long. Nowadays we use the word "goad" to talk about being pushed emotionally: "He goaded her on, so she did it." In this passage, I think the "goad" Paul did not heed was a sympathetic one, a goad of pity for Stephen who was killed before his very eyes after being perfectly truthful and Biblically acccurate [see Acts 7].
Two, and this was humiliating to Paul, being so on-fire to love God and all, He found out the most direct way possible that he, a "Pharisee of Pharisees", was attacking the messiah, our Lord. Jesus took these attacks as against His own person. "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting."
I want to say that was an eye-opener. Paul was dancing on the dark disco side of God, playing his funky "Stonin' a Christian" pop song when the Lord of All Music comes in and goes all John Williams on him.
"I'm gonna get me some heretic toniiiiggghhhttt, everything's gonna be all riiiigggghhhhhtttt..."
DUHNNN DUHN DE DE DUHNN DUHNN!!
Yeah, man, that will open your eyes. Permanently.
Don't ignore God's goads. Don't try to fill your soul with the world's popular music.
Go classical and hear Him Who Rules All Things.
He's too awesome for words.