Thursday Devotion

This is the devotion aired on KCNI Thursday, December 3, 2020. Thanks to KCNI for airing weekday morning devotions from pastors of the Custer County Ministerial Association.

If our lives had soundtracks, what songs would be on them? Good morning, I’m Pastor Matt Fowler of Broken Bow United Methodist Church. This week, I’m diving into some top country songs of the last few years to explore the intersections of faith and life.

I love the imagery and message of Eric Church’s 2018 song, “Monsters,” which hooked me from its first lines:

“I killed my first monster when I was seven years old
He melted like butter in my bathroom’s sixty-watt bulb.”

With that, we can imagine a child, or ourselves, banishing monsters from the darkness of our room wielding weapons of light – a bathroom light or a flashlight. But Church goes far beyond fantastical monsters, claiming at the end of the chorus that “I’ve learned that the monsters ain’t the ones beneath the bed.”

This is a fascinating twist: “the monsters aren’t the ones beneath the bed.” But, if the monsters aren’t underneath the bed, and if they’re real, where are they?

Church answers this in the next verse. The monsters come out through our hunger and loneliness. The monsters are bad decisions made in darkness. The monsters are greed that stalks, sickness that steals, and pride that lays a trap for us. Like in William Golding’s 1954 novel, Lord of the Flies, the monsters are around us and, most importantly, within us. Churchy folk call these monsters sin, personal and systemic.

In Rachel Held Evans’ beautiful book on the Bible, Inspired, she cites an author who quotes 20th Century Christian apologist G.K. Chesterton as saying, “Fairy tales are more than true – not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten” (Inspired, xx). Apparently, Eric Church has taken a page from Chesterton. He very clearly tells us monsters exist, but then, in the chorus, he repeatedly tells us that monsters can be defeated. Here’s Church:

“Anymore when a restless feelin’ keeps me up at night
Fallin’ on my knees is my new turnin’ on the light
I keep my faith intact, make sure my prayers are said.”

Could it be that simple? Could faith cultivated through prayer be the sword of light to defeat the monsters of sin and brokenness in our lives? In a sense, I’d argue that this is precisely the story of the Bible. In Daniel 7 and Revelation 13, we see multiple scary beasts. In Jonah we have a man-eating fish. In the gospels we have the waves of chaos and the darkness of a tomb. But in all these stories, the overarching message of scripture, from beginning to end, is that God has mounted a resistance to the monsters and beasts, and God will surely prevail. That’s why John can start his gospel talking about Jesus as the Light coming into the world, which can never be overcome by darkness (Jn 1:5).

So, listen, I don’t know what monsters we’re each facing today. There may likely be dark, beastly things within us and around us that seem bent on our destruction. But, with Church’s song, we’re reminded that God is with us, God is for us, and God always overcomes. Therefore, let us pray, now, and whenever we’re facing monsters, with the assurance of Psalm 46:1-3:

“God is our refuge and strength,
a help always near in times of great trouble.
That’s why we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart,
when the mountains crumble into the center of the sea,
when its waters roar and rage,
when the mountains shake because of its surging waves.”

May it be so.

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