Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Don't Stop Believin'!

Yeah, I'm still talking about these guys...
Moving right along with my exegesis of the Soul Asylum album Grave Dancer's Union… The record's fourth song is another no-brainer… for me, anyway! And it goes great with the previous song. 

My commentary on that one, Runaway Train, highlighted the beginning of the beginning of change – that is, the cry for help. This one is more about how yesterday's hypothetical person, having accepted the Change-maker's invitation to relationship, feels while change is taking place… That is… impatient and frustrated… but determined and hopeful. Click on the title to hear the song:

Keep it Up 
I'm down here waiting on a shattered heart
I'm gonna put it back together if it tears me apart
If I can keep it up.. If I can keep it up 
I been complaining like a broken record
Gonna get what I want, if it takes forever
If I can keep it up... If I can keep it up 
Though the rain weighs down your wings
Still the caged bird's got to sing
Singing "Na na na na na na na na na" 
I know it seem funny, try to understand
It's just that things don't always go the way you plan
Still you keep it up... Still you keep it up 
Nothing in the world's gonna keep me down
I'm just a holding out, and just a hanging around
Trying to keep it up.. Just to keep it up 
Though the rain weighs down your wings
Still the caged bird's got to sing
Singing "Na na na na na na na na na" 
Keep it up... Keep it up 
A seven forty-seven's gonna take us away
Take us up to heaven, gonna be okay
If we can keep it up.. If we can keep it up 
Though the rain weighs down your wings
Still the caged bird's got to sing
Singing "Na na na na na na na na na"

Here's how Winston 
Churchill said it.
When I hear this song, I can remember clearly those feelings of being mired in the Carolina red clay of my own crappiness, but determined to get out… and the sweet hope… someday… but not yet… The singer of this song is right there in it, feeling all those things to the nth degree… and he's urging himself onward… steeling himself for the long distance race ahead. 

This kind of motivational speaking is all through the Bible. Because times can be hard. Even if you aren't crawling out of a hole, you're likely to experience some suffering at one time or another… and at times like this, we can give up hope, or we can keep reminding ourselves (and one another) to keep going. Like this example from Hebrews 12:
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Just so the guy in the song is giving himself a pep-talk… telling himself to "keep it up." During the "na-na-na" parts, I can just imagine him dancing with his fist in the air, in the face of that part of him that wants to quit – his own internal nay-sayer. I always love a fist in the air song. 
Tom Petty vows, "I won't back down.

Real change is hard, and a long process… and it's a worthy goal… digging your way out of a hole… becoming who you want to be. It will most likely make you feel better, and frankly, that's what I mainly wanted at first – some relief. But I soon learned that this is not the real goal. I think the ultimate goal is that tight relationship you develop with the Changer while you're going through it… and then, after all is said and done, that 747 trip to heaven the song mentions. 

Like Paul says:
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-14)
Paul really understood that things don't happen over night. 

Well then... what does it mean to "keep it up?" Does it mean keep justin' your butt trying? I don't think so. I'm not sure there is anything about the Christian life that hinges on our trying harder. It exhausts me to even think about it, but I try to remember that while there is a certain amount of clinging to God on our part, He's actually doing the bulk of the work – both in the fixing and in the relationship overall. Yes, despite our slowness to change and our lame efforts to love Him, He's got a tight hold on us.

...and Journey recommends that you 
"don't stop stop believin'"
which is really what it's all about, right?

So maybe to "keep it up" means… to "remain in Christ," like Jesus talks about in his spiel about the vine and the branches (John 15:5) "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." We just gotta keep being His, which is, again, mostly Him. Jesus said we are his sheep and NO ONE will snatch us out of His hands. And Paul says that NOTHING can separate us from God's love in Jesus. (John 10:27-28 and Romans 8:38-39, respectively)

And when I think about it this way, "keeping it up" becomes less exhausting. Seems like much more of a sure thing, doesn't it? We just need to keep reminding ourselves… like in the song.

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