The First Orphans: Silent in the Trees

Have you ever wondered what life was like for Adam and Eve during Genesis 3:7?  This verse, which happens between the moment they fell to temptation and the moment they next meet God, says “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.”  Since they were able to figure out how to make clothes for the first time, we can guess that the time frame within Genesis 3:7 was more than a few minutes.

The song “Trees” by the band twenty øne piløts may be a contemplation of that time, and if it is, the song imagines that Adam and Eve had some time to think about it.  Songwriter Tyler Joseph crafts lyrics that allow for religious and secular meanings, but also that sometimes also apply to multiple audiences.  In the song’s lyrics, “You” is sometimes capitalized, and sometimes not, and therefore I think the song has two intended audiences, God and the band’s fans.

Reading between the lines a bit, I’ll explain below what I get from this song, in each audience perspective.

You = the Father
The lyrics are relatively compact, with the repeated verse of:

I know where You stand, silent in the trees
And that’s where I am, silent in the trees
Why won’t You speak where I happen to be?
Silent in the trees, standing cowardly

Our first ancestors had lived a perfect life in fellowship with God in the garden of Eden, but the fall into temptation changed that relationship, and the verse imagines how.

  • First, the sense of togetherness was gone.  They were still in the garden, but the sense that God was also there was gone.
  • Second, although “the eyes of both were opened,” the voice of God guiding their activities had gone silent.  They had chosen to determine their own way but had not considered the consequences.  Wherever they were, He used to guide them, but now they were confused.
  • Third, instead of being comfortable in God’s presence, they were terribly afraid of Him.

And a repeated chorus of:

I can feel Your breath
I can feel my death
I want to know You, I want to see
I want to say
Hello, hello
Hello, oh, hello

In the original Hebrew Genesis was written in, the words for “breath” and “spirit” are sometimes the same word.  Therefore, the first two lines of this chorus mean that our ancestors could still feel God’s presence (His breath/spirit), but instead of it being a comfort, they now felt something they never felt before – their mortality.  This is a foreshadowing of their being cast away from access to the tree of life.

Also, instead of the constant conversation with God they had known their whole lives, now they wanted to speak with God and know Him again, but He was not responding.  In the context of the song, maybe it was then that “they knew that they were naked.”  They knew they had done wrong, were exposed, and thought judgement was what they should expect.  Adam and Eve went from perfectly hearing their Father’s and Master’s voice, to feeling like orphans and castaways from His family.

What came next?  Genesis 3:8 says, “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”

You = The Fans
The “you” in the song is also the band’s fans – and Tyler sings out to them, in the trees.  Tyler says the song is also about a personal experience he had, which he doesn’t publicly explain, but He does publicly display tattoos of both the cross of Christ and of bands around his wrist, which likely represent rubber bands people wear to manage and prevent self-harm.  These tattoos are like permanent memorials – or Ebenezers – from his life, and his ongoing recovery from mental illness.  Many of the band’s fans are going through similar struggles and many feel left behind by the world.

Therefore, the “you” of the song is those who feel alone and silent in the trees, who feel ashamed before God, hiding themselves.  They expect God to show up in judgement, as Adam and Eve expected, and hid their nakedness.  Tyler could be calling out to them: God did not judge me, and neither will He judge you if you call out to Him.  God will speak to them, “where they happen to be.”  After all, Genesis 3:9 says: “But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”  It was God who desired and initiated reconciliation with His people.

The outro of the song has Tyler screaming HELLO over and over again, before the song ends with 12 seconds of intentional silence before the track ends.

What will be the answer?

When you find someone alone and silent in the trees, remember James 1:27 – “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

If you find yourself alone and silent in the trees, tell your Heavenly Father you want to say hello.  He wants to know you and He wants to see you.

Coda
For many years, “Trees” has been the last song played at every twenty øne piløts concert.  Why is this?  On the album “Vessel”, “Trees” was the next-to-last song and other parts of the album built to it.  The first song on “Vessel” describes demons and spiritual warfare, the second song is called “Holding On To You,” and the third song, “Migraine,” has the repeated line:

And I will say that we should take a moment and hold it
And keep it frozen and know that life has a hopeful undertone

It seems like from the beginning of the album, that moment to hold on to when you’re battling whatever demons you have was coming.  So, in each concert, the fans know that the moment to hold on to is coming.  The song is a moment you can remember when you’re down and know you’re not alone.  The song an Ebenezer in its own way, and a bold statement that the band is not going to ignore the problems of people left behind, the metaphorical widows and orphans of the world.  Also, if they pay close attention, those fans can find the message of Christ in the lyrics.  God doesn’t wait until our affliction is over and we make ourselves acceptable to come to us. He bridges the divide Himself.

Below is a video I took at last night’s concert in Philadelphia.  Apologies for the video quality, especially when they fired massive amounts of confetti into the air, which fans collect to remember the moment later.  My phone camera just couldn’t keep up, but I offer it as a 5-minute moment you can take and hold and know that life has a hopeful undertone.


And what’s all this about widows and orphans? This post continues a series on James 1:27, which began here. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Your Family is More Important Than Your Furniture – Psalms of Ascent #4

A prominent feature of the culture I live in is the demand that everyone must respect the “individualism” of everyone else.  Pressure to affirm whatever anyone else wants affirmed about them has ballooned all over the news, social media, corporate policy, and even in churches.  There’s an assumption built into this, which is that the sincere ability to love someone can be the result of someone else threatening us to do it.  Exert enough legal, social, cultural, or even physical pressure and someone’s fundamental nature can be changed by coercion.  The coal turns into a diamond.

Tomorrow is Sunday, so today we return to the Psalms of Ascent, a liturgy used in ancient Israel to prepare for worship at the annual festivals in Jerusalem.  What does this have to do with the last paragraph?  In Psalm 120, the first Psalm of Ascent, we read (post here) that no matter where we live, or where we come from, no matter our genealogy, we live among people with “lying lips” who can’t get along with each other.  In Psalm 121, we are encouraged to find the answer outside of our current place:

A Song of Ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
            From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
            who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
            he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
            will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper;
            the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
            nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all evil;
            he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
            your going out and your coming in
            from this time forth and forevermore.

The Psalm asks us to take our eyes off of the world around us and look upward for our hope.  Not just talk about the idea of it, but to actually do it.  To turn off the outside world and its circumstances and seek God’s help.  It takes effort because the idea that we can solve our own problems is so powerful.  The fall of Adam and Eve was driven by a curiosity that there may be a better system than the one they already had.  In a literally perfect society, they wanted something else.  If we aren’t intentional about avoiding this trap, it’s easy to not realize we are in it.

We’re All Messed Up
I’ve written much about Tyler Joseph, the songwriter of the band twenty øne piløts, and his campaign to create music and stories that help people deal with mental illness.  In an interview years ago, the interviewer criticized Tyler for calling himself “messed up.”  Was Tyler being too hard on himself?  This was Tyler’s response:

“I know I’m messed up. I think to myself I should be able to control myself.  I look at a lamp and I decide that I’m going to stand up and not hit that lamp. Why can’t I make decisions like that about everything in life. I’m not going to get angry at my brother. I want to be the best brother. Why can’t I do what I want to do? That’s messed up. Something is broken in the way we live. It’s proof that something is not right.”

Tyler is explaining Romans 7:13-21, especially verses 15 and 21, but in a way that’s as plain as day to anyone being honest with themselves.  Romans 7:15 and 21 say: “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”  And “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.”

What if the problem with every person individually is that they are unable, no matter how much external pressure is put on them, to treat other individuals the way they should be treated? If true, it puts the first paragraph into an entirely different light.

In this exact moment as I write this, I’m being very careful not to spill my drink on my laptop.  I have no desire to do anything violent to the couch I’m sitting on but just to enjoy having a place to sit.  If I stop writing to check something on my phone, I make sure I put it down gently in a spot where it won’t fall off and hit the floor.  But at the same time, I know I don’t always treat people with the same respect.  I know if I’m interrupted in the middle of what I think is a great thought or phrase I could get irritated and rude.  Not always, but I could.  I know I could be a better son, husband, father, employee, and friend.  So why don’t I?

Why do we treat our furniture better than our family, even in a culture that increasingly demands with all its strength that we prioritize every individual?  Because we are broken in a way that no political or economic system, no culture or tradition, can fix.  One may be better or worse than another, but none of them has the power to solve the real problem that we can’t consistently love people more than we love our furniture.  We have to go somewhere else to find the answer.

Therefore,
“I lift up my eyes to the hills.
            From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
            who made heaven and earth.”

As pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem, the Israelites were telling a story by making the effort to move.  A story that the towns they leave behind – no matter where they are coming from – don’t have the answer to their most important problems.  On the long journey, they travelled in large groups and slowly, sometimes by foot.  They probably had constant reminders of their own inability to treat the family they traveled with better than whatever furniture or baggage they brought along for the trip. While togetherness is sometimes uncomfortable, together we must lift up our eyes and look for the answer outside of everything we know.

We’re broken and can’t fix ourselves, but “The LORD will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life.”  Take some time out of your week and each day to look up to the hills and seek Him.  To set aside everything else.  To focus on the LORD, because He alone loves us in the way we need to be loved and can help us love others the way they need to be loved.  He won’t seek to break you to make you do it, but He Himself was broken to provide us a way.


This post continues a series on the Psalms of Ascent. To start at the beginning, click here, and for the next post click here

Stuck in a “Trench” of Doubt

Facebook has a reputation as a place where people show only the best parts of their lives. It’s also known as a place where people love to argue and point out others’ faults. Can Facebook be a place where people become more authentic and at the same time, expect to meet their loving Savior? Sometimes authentic is uncomfortable, but doesn’t love require it? If Facebook “isn’t the place for it”, then what is Facebook for?

I don’t know the answer, but know it will take a lot of creativity, such as that described in article linked below, about a 2018 “concept album” called Trench from twenty øne piløts: “Overall, in Trench, Tyler Joseph describes what it means to live as a human (or Christian) in the face of brutal doubts, fear and insecurity. It can be terrifying for Christians to admit they do not fully know where they are going. We often worry doubt itself might be a sin. We want to appear in full control of our faith.” – author Clifford Stumme

You can read the full article “Twenty One Pilots’ New Album Has a Stark Lack of Faith … And That’s the Point” from Relevant Magazine here.

What do you think? What are more examples?

Driving Toward the Morning Sun (Part 2)

Part 1 focused on “Taxi Cab”, a song by twenty øne piløts, which provided the name of this blog and helps explain its purpose.  “Driving Toward the Morning Sun” reminds us of our destiny in Christ and builds on the “forerunner” metaphor that anchors our “full assurance of hope”.  Part 2 adds the importance of our origin in Christ, which gives our works meaning, in contrast to secular views.

Introductory Verses
“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” – John 13:3-5
“Praise the LORD!  Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly! Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!” – Psalm 149:1-2

Why Do the Right Thing?
While in college, I was in a group study of the Gospel of John, came across John 13:3-5 and got stuck on the phrase: “he had come from God and was going back to God”.  In the middle of a story about God washing the feet of men, why does John intentionally point this out?  What’s the connection with this and service?  But this was not just a random phrase thrown in by John, it was perhaps the key to the whole story: that being anchored to our origin and destiny in Christ is what enables Christians to love others.  If Christ Himself served knowing these things, how can we not also serve?  Jesus willingly gets His hands dirty, so we might do the same.

However, a rejection of God as origin and destiny, as Alpha and Omega[1], has implications for individuals, families, congregations, cultures, and nations.  Hebrews 12:15 warns: “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”  The Apostle Paul outlines the consequences in Romans 1:18-32, after arguing for a gospel of grace, which is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16).  Paul writes this as “a servant of Christ Jesus” (Rom 1:1), and we also are servants, who need to answer our call to be set apart for God’s purpose, to be holy.  We are made to love God and to love others – empowered by life-changing grace to give grace.

Without Christ, humanity is smart enough to know that a 100% selfish race would be the end of us, but not wise and humble enough to acknowledge their Creator and King.  Therefore, we seek substitute alphas and omegas, but they just won’t do.

I’ll give two quick examples.  I took a Child Psychology class in college, where they taught that babies are “cute” because of evolution.  They said if babies weren’t “cute” then parents wouldn’t go through the effort of taking care of them.  Therefore, only “cute” genes survived the natural selection process.  Other babies were left to die.  Somehow, most of the class just nodded along and thought this was quite an insight!  I thought it was not only pure speculation, but barbaric.  What’s the evidence, other than saying that there must be a reason babies are “cute”?  Are there a ton of “ugly” babies in the fossil record?  What is “cute” anyway?  Under this logic, mankind might get to define what’s “cute” (and therefore worthy of love) and eliminate what’s not “cute”, for the betterment of future generations.  No.  I’ll look elsewhere because I’ve seen this movie before.

Second is the concept of karma.  If there’s an impersonal cosmic record-keeper that makes sure “what goes around, comes around”, then we need to send goodness around and we will be fine, right?  But this simply doesn’t match real-life experience and is bound to disappoint.  The idea is lampooned in the 2019 song “Karma” by AJR, where the singer asks his therapist whether he should be good, since karma doesn’t seem to be working: “I’ve been working my ass off; I’ve been so good; Still, I’m lonely and stressed out”.  There is too much unknown and seemingly random in the world for “karma” to consistently motivate good works.  If we don’t see the return, in exactly the way we expect, then we lose motivation.  I prefer to side with Samuel Johnson, who said “The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.”[2]  Unless you have an immovable reference point for the “goodness” you need to send around, it’s all up to the individual to decide what’s on the “good” and “bad” side of the ledger, even if they think neglecting “ugly” babies isn’t so bad.

The Ultimate Cause
The question of altruism – or concern for others even at a cost to self – has puzzled secular and religious philosophers and ethicists for centuries.  Instead, I recommend the ethic of Psalm 149:2-4:

“Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
                        let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
Let them praise his name with dancing,
                        making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
For the LORD takes pleasure in his people;
                        he adorns the humble with salvation.

In other words, be glad!  We are not random accidents with no creator and no purpose.  We have a loving Creator and King who died that we might live.  In response, we offer our creativity and energy to God as worship, in all forms available to us (including but not limited to dancing and music!) and within our area of influence.  Accepting us in Christ as we are, the Lord takes pleasure as we humbly offer what we have to His service and rewards us with His blessings.

If we acknowledge our Maker and King as the protagonist of our story, we know that we have an origin, a purpose, and a destiny, and that our works can have eternal value, beyond any “random act of kindness”.  Whether our community and culture are crumbling or thriving, the call of God is our ultimate priority.

However, if we insist on being the protagonist and following the idols we create, our incomplete thoughts of altruism and karma will never be enough, and our works will always be mortal and rotting.  We don’t move beyond the verses of “Taxi Cab”.  Our works might help us “carry on”, but that’s not a very good place to be.  God has better in store for us.

Verse 1 of Psalm 149, skipped above, says:

“Praise the LORD!  Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly!”

“A new song” suggests something that’s creative, offered in praise.  It’s an invitation from God to think expansively under the Spirit’s guidance, not restrictively under laws and regulations.  Don’t misunderstand – it’s not about “put yourself out there” and be an extrovert.  Perhaps you are not a “creative” person.  You might be a tax collector or a soldier[3].  You might be a clerk, accountant, lawyer, politician, engineer, housewife or anything else.  It doesn’t matter.  It’s about knowing who you are and dedicating that to the Lord and to others.  Turning some of this world’s “tohu va’bohu”[4] into something eternally rewarding.  But also, for some it means living in a hostile country and wondering whether and how to love your enemy when they come for you.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” – Colossians 3:23-24

Coda
Fast forward to 2021 and Tyler Joseph of twenty øne piløts is still encouraging people to create amid a pandemic.  “Shy Away”, off their latest album, was one of the final encouragements for me to start publishing this blog.  The song started when Tyler’s brother asked him how to record and produce music.  Tyler started writing the music as an example, but he ended up with a completed song.  The lyrics are encouragement for his brother to do the same.  After all, if Tyler hadn’t long ago created “Taxi Cab”, that “mortal, rotting piece of song” for the merch table, he might still be lost in despair.

Listen to or read the lyrics to “Shy Away”, and ask God and yourself: What is your new song?  Is it your song, or is it someone else’s?  Will your song be heard?  Is it an “I love you”?

Keep Driving Toward Morning.  Don’t be afraid.  After all, humility is not false modesty, but “the virtue that allows us to get out of our own sinful way and thereby embrace God’s redemptive work in us.”[5]  Your Maker and King will rejoice, for “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” – Luke 15:7.  Lay aside your outer garments, or leave your skin on the floor if you prefer that metaphor, and pick up a towel.

This is His mission, should we choose to accept it.


[1] Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet; Omega is the last.  God declares that He is both in Revelation 1:8 and elsewhere.
[2] See also Luke 14:12-14
[3] See Luke 3:12-14
[4] The Hebrew phrase translated as “without form and void” in Genesis 1:2. See prior post.
[5] Gibson, Richard H..; Beitler, James E. III.  Charitable Writing (2020).

Driving Toward the Morning Sun (Part 1)

“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” – Isaiah 64:6
“And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.  And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD” – Ezekiel 37:13-14

In my first post, nearly 3 months ago, I footnoted that the name of this blog is taken from an old twenty øne piløts song and that I would explain later.  Well, here we are.  This one will focus on the song, and Part 2 will expand the idea behind the blog beyond the song.  Otherwise, this would have been a very long post.

The song, “Taxi Cab” is from the band’s first album, self-published in 2009.  Songwriter Tyler Joseph has called it something he just threw together to sell at the merchandise table at shows.  Several of the songs are brutally honest discussions of Tyler’s struggles to find meaning and to maintain faith in God.  There’s a brokenness there you can hear in Tyler’s voice and there are videos of him breaking down and crying during live performances of songs from the album like “Addict with a Pen”.

“Taxi Cab” is my favorite of these early songs, and when they performed it live, I nearly cried myself!  It was Halloween, 2018, at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC and fans came to the show in costume.  We saw Gandalf, Jesus, and even a Tyler doppelganger there!  In 2016, the band had achieved this honor: “Twenty One Pilots are just the third rock act with simultaneous top five Hot 100 hits in the chart’s 58-year history, following only The Beatles and Elvis Presley”[1]  But at this sold-out 2018 show, they chose to include “Taxi Cab”, a song about being saved from brokenness by God!

A Beautifully Plain Taxi Cab
Often in these posts, I’ll include a “Coda” at the end, but for this one, you might want to watch the lyric video, or just read the lyrics first.  I’ll wait.

While I haven’t decoded every reference and metaphor in the song (Tyler often embeds both a spiritual and secular meaning), the basic structure of the song is this: the verses describe Tyler’s faults and inability to please himself and God; the “rap” is a story of Tyler’s salvation; and the chorus is an encouragement to find strength in that salvation.

Verse 1 says:
“I wanna fall inside your ghost; And fill up every hole inside my mind
And I want everyone to know; That I am half a soul[2] divided”

Tyler confesses that he lacks knowledge, and even where he does have knowledge, his inner being is in conflict and unable to do the right thing with that knowledge.  It is a similar cry to that of the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15-23, where even with the truth we have, we remain at war with ourselves and can’t act the way we want to.  On the positive side, he understands that the knowledge gaps need to be filled by “your ghost”, a reference to the Holy Spirit, and that confession is an essential first step to progress.  He is frustrated with what he doesn’t know and asks for help from the One who knows all.  More knowledge isn’t the answer to his moral failures, but faith is.

With verse 2, he adds to the confession and frustration:
“I wanna strip myself of breath; A breathless piece of death I’ve made for you
A mortal rotting piece of song; Will help me carry on but at least you heard”

Here Tyler is asking, “what’s the point?”  In other songs, he encourages others to find purpose in their creativity, but here he says his own efforts at creativity are “mortal” and “rotting” and he’s considering giving up on music.  As declared by Isaiah in the introductory verse, “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment”.  We cannot meet God’s standard.  But again, a slight note of hope: “at least you heard”.  There is value in the song as a prayer, as an honest expression, as a release.  It keeps him from jumping off the ledge of despair.  He awaits God’s response, and that response comes from the rap verse of the song.

Overcoming the Grave
“Taxi Cab” is the first song where Tyler included a rap, and while it’s more “spoken word”, it’s full of interesting images and symbols.  While there are multiple possible interpretations – some say it is about a failed suicide attempt – it’s clear one intended interpretation is as a story of Tyler’s salvation, and I’ll point out 3 key ideas:

First, Tyler finds himself dead and helpless.  As a result of his incomplete knowledge, his inability to do the right thing, and failure to create something of eternal value, he finds himself locked in a coffin packed in the rear of a hearse.  He’s tried everything but can’t change his fate.

Second, unable to save himself, God intervenes on his behalf in ways impossible for him.  He had tried to scratch his way out of the coffin!  But, “the hearse ran out of gas”, someone “picked the lock” of his coffin, and he “found the breath I was searching for”.

Finally, his destiny has changed from death to one where “all your blood is washed away and all you did will be undone”. He is out of the hearse and into the Taxi Cab, which will carry him to heaven.

Putting the rap in the context of the verses, you find that through clever songwriting, Tyler packaged much of the “Romans Road” tool of Christian evangelism into a song about overcoming depression and performed it to a packed house at Capital One Arena!  He may not have specifically used the Romans Road as a guide, but the key concepts are there.  For those not familiar, the Romans Road[3] is an easy to memorize and share summary of the Christian gospel using verses from the book of Romans.  It quickly describes the need for salvation and the way to salvation using these verses:

Romans 3:23 – All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
Romans 6:23(a) – The wages of sin is death
Romans 6:23(b) – The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord
Romans 10:9 – If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved

Saved to what?  Eternal life, where we become what we were created to be.

While works cannot earn us salvation, in Christ, Tyler “found the breath [he] was searching for” and so can we.  “Breath” here might be another reference to the Holy Spirit, as the words for “breath” and “spirit” are often the same in the Bible’s original languages.  If it is, then the Holy Spirit is the missing piece in Tyler’s creativity, the part that transforms it from mortal to eternally relevant.  Salvation brings meaning to our works, to our creativity.  As in the valley of dry bones vision in Ezekiel 37, God rescues us from certain death, gives us His Spirit, and a destiny (see verses 13-14 in the intro).

The final bit of the rap, where the blog title comes from, is a conversation between Tyler and “three men” who were driving the cab, and now in control of his destiny.  These men represent the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all of whom are involved in Tyler’s new story.  He asks, “Am I alive and well or am I dreaming dead?”, and one of them answers:

“We’re driving toward the morning sun
Where all your blood is washed away
And all you did will be undone”

This blog is called “Driving Toward the Morning Sun”[4] because Jesus, our forerunner (see last post) has purchased for us a destiny and a purpose.  Therefore, how do we bring the eternal into our present?  How does receiving the gospel empower us to live?  Unless we focus our eyes on the promise of God, we become mired in circumstances and ineffective.  We become entangled in attitudes, activities, and goals with no eternal value.  We grieve the Holy Spirit and don’t experience the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

I want every post to echo – in truth and in tone – the last lines of the “Taxi Cab” chorus:

“I said ‘don’t be afraid’.  I said ‘don’t be afraid’
We’re going home”

Part 2 coming soon.  With a new song.


[1] https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/chart-beat/7488038/chainsmokers-hot-100-halsey-closer-number-one-shawn-mendes
[2] The source of my “Author” profile on the blog
[3] This site has some more helpful detail on the Romans Road: https://www.christianity.com/wiki/salvation/what-is-the-romans-road-to-salvation.html
[4] Some sources say the lyric can also be read as “Morning Son”, more explicitly saying that our destiny is to have the character of Christ.