I’ve been writing songs for 20 years now. I’ve spent most of my life putting one note in front of another note – trying to console an age old ache that echoes in the deepest chambers of my heart. These songs, at least at this point in my life, have become the most valuable thing I own. How am I going to invest the currency of my music? What will I spend it on? A more important question – how will I invest the currency of my life? What will I spend it on?
An ancient prophet named Isaiah said “if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”
What will we spend ourselves on? The currency of our time, our art, our moral capital – what will we spend it on? Our youth, our privilege, our platform, our creativity, our moral capital, our political capital – what will we spend it on? What if we spend ourselves on the needs of the oppressed and on behalf of the marginalized? What if we used our voice to amplify the voices of those whose voices have been drowned out? To speak truth in the halls of power where the lives of the most vulnerable among us are trampled underfoot by the special interests of powerful corporations?
You might be thinking “but I’m only one voice”. So am I. One voice in the wilderness. One voice crying out at 110dB. We have to be humble enough to believe our own unique voice matters in the mosaic of the kingdom. It seems naive. It seems so childish. But maybe it’s childlike. Maybe it’s like a kid with a few fish and five loaves of bread in the face of probable ridicule. I’ll stand on the edge of the abyss and celebrate the small corner that I’m able to tear off the darkness. Even when it feels foolish to maintain hope – we will push back on the shadow in the twilight.
You might be thinking “how can we really make a difference? – we’re up against such corruption”. I see it. I look into the iron teeth of corruption on a regular basis. Our work with The Exodus Road exposing sex trafficking puts me in close contact with mafias and gangs in cahoots with corrupt government officials and law enforcement. It makes you want to give up at times. But here’s the thing about corruption – even iron rusts and turns to power eventually – in fact, by it’s very nature it will pass away. That’s what corruption is. Something that won’t last.
Your selfless actions, on the other hand, will last forever. There is an enduring quality to something that is done on behalf of someone else. Laying down my rights and my time for the interests of the most marginalized and vulnerable in our society is the whole point of the good news (at least the way Jesus from Nazareth talked about it). “I’ve been anointed to proclaim good news for poor people”, he said. “To proclaim freedom to the captives, liberty to the prisoners and a restoration of dignity to the oppressed, the crushed and the downtrodden”. There is not a love that exceeds a life that is laid down. The only way to find this life, the only way to tap into it is to lose your life.
The design is not flawed. We’ve just fallen so far short of the glorious purpose for which we were intended. The goodness – the bravery – the courage – the selflessness – it already exists inside of you. It’s there – but for most of us it’s just buried under an avalanche of fear, the cares of world, and the idolatry of safety and comfort.
The fear is real. I recognize that. But courage is moving forward in the face of fear. Your courageous actions will be contagious. People will look at your selflessness and get creative – they will ask themselves “how can I do something similar to what she is doing?” Ripples turn to tidal waves. As we join the rising tide of ordinary people who are not willing to look the other way when we have come in contact with such emergencies in the arenas of mercy, justice, freedom and compassion.
I’m using my rock band to shine a light on slavery and injustice. I’m using my time and my resources to volunteer as an undercover operative with a counter trafficking organization called The Exodus Road. Your contribution will be different than mine as your voice is different. But you have a unique contribution to make. It might become your life’s work. It might cost you your life. But you only have one life to live. What will you spend it on?
“What will we spend it on
And when we’re gone
In ages to come
The sages will write
“So raged the bearers of the light
So waged the few with all their might
Against the terrors of the night
With no sight in view
From the depths to the heights”
-David Zach, Remedy Drive