Monday, December 5, 2016

Everything That Kills Me Makes Me Feel Alive

One Republic's song, "counting stars,"contains this clever and poignant lyric: "everything that kills me makes me feel alive." Their video of the song has been viewed more than  1.5 billion (yes billion) times on Youtube, meaning that it has resonated with a large swath of humanity. The lyrics are slightly cryptic and open to a thousand interpretations which many have put forth. Here is my spin on one part of that song.

First as a pastor and communicator I am fascinated and my interest is piqued by what it could be in this song that has connected with so many people. As a song it lends it self to inviting the listener to sing along, catchy, and enjoyable. Yet, I think it is the lyrics that have pushed it over the top. My observation is that the song  addresses several common things many young people relate to. Detesting the need for and pursuit of money/things. Living outside of societies square box, and then what for me is the most interesting line of the song: "Everything that kills me, makes me feel alive".

In my late teens I had gotten heavily involved in drug use, I really enjoyed the way drugs made me feel. But, I slowly began to realize there was a bill to pay for all that "fun," and my life began to go steadily downhill. I was stealing to be able to buy drugs, I had gotten arrested, and I came to understand that I had a love/hate relationship with drugs. The fun came at an ever increasing cost, with an ever decreasing enjoyment. I struggled with suicide, hated myself, and battled depression. (At 18 I had very few life skills to deal with depression, it was a very dark time in my life.) The following picture is one of many like it that have been posted to the internet by suicide survivors, and it echoes the sentiments of many.

One night on LSD I tried to jump from the 6th floor of the apartment building I was living in. Friends stopped me, I was too high to understand what I was doing. They made me go to drug counseling, I went once, hated it. I was smart enough to realize that I needed more than words to change me. A short time later getting high on the roof of the same building, I looked to heaven and said to God, "I need some power to come inside me and help me." Desperate for change, I managed to join the US Navy, and was transferred to Japan. I soon realized that even though I changed locations, and my life situations, I still took, "me," with me. I continued taking drugs, and even got busted for that while in the service. I attempted suicide a few more times, and fell into greater depression because not only was I a failure, but I was a failure at committing suicide. (For which I an now very grateful to God about!)

Then on September 3rd, 1974 I had a dramatic encounter with the living God, and felt Him and His power come inside me. In the book of Revelation it says, "I stand at the door and knock, if anyone opens the door I will come in to him." My rooftop prayer was answered, I was radically changed, and the power of drugs over me was broken. I have since realized that everything that God calls sin, there is bill of suffering that comes along with those who dabble therein. One Republic, far from a Christian band, had enough life insight to say, "Everything that KILLS me, makes me feel alive." The bible puts it this way, "the wages of sin is death." Whether or not you believe in God, that fact remains. Whether or not you believe what the bible calls sin, is sin, that fact remains. Though you may party and laugh on the outside, on the inside the bill for sin will always cost you more than the pleasure sin brings you.

Perhaps, like One Republic, you recognize that everything that makes you feel alive, KILLS you. Perhaps you should consider answering that knock on the door of your heart. Jesus has the power to change you from the inside out. Personally I really enjoy scifi movies, and like many am a fan to the Star Wars series. In one of the first movies a whole planet (Alderann) is destroyed by something called the "Death Star," a Jedi Knight by the name of Obi Wan Kenobi, speaking of that event says: "I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened." In my heart, I have that kind of a sense for people who are overdosing, and those caught in all kinds of lifestyles that are killing them. Drugs, pornography, gambling, alternate sexual identities, they all come with a big price tag. God heard that cry before the world began and He sent His son Jesus to do something about it. Sin will always send you a bill, and then send the worst collection agents there are after you. Look up, reach up, and call out to God, He has the power to overcome the forces of the Empire.

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