Music Gives: Gifting Songs to Our Children

Article by Matt Markins March 26, 2020

Some of my earliest memories are of my mother and I riding in her itty-bitty Plymouth Horizon. Do you remember this car? Who knew that a four-door car could be so small! We would go back and forth to my grandparent’s house, run errands, and go to school in that little car. As I reflect back on this season, I can recall – no, more than recall – I can deeply feel the unspoken tension of my parents’ recent divorce as if it were somehow stuffed into the already cramped car alongside us.

But these memories are not all bad. Actually, and strangely, many of them are warm memories due to the soundtrack playing on the turn dial radio. I think we find it interesting how music, in a very unique way, cannot only lift our spirits, even more than that, it captivates our imaginations – especially for children – and can give us just the words we need.

In the early 1980’s while riding around in that Plymouth Horizon with my mom, Christopher Cross told me over the radio waves that “it’s not far down to paradise” and in my four-year-old imagination I went sailing. In my mind he was right, “the canvas can do miracles.” Then there was also a band named Player singing, “Baby come back!” I remember wondering, “what did he do to make his Baby go away?” Yet, also feeling a sense of gratification that he admitted that he “was wrong, and he just couldn’t live without her.”

Clearly my Mom’s jam was light rock. But a few years later she married my stepdad, Mike. He was more of a country music kind of guy. By that point, the Plymouth Horizon was long gone and was replaced by a new kind of vehicle called the Chrysler Minivan. We went all over the U.S. in that van. Translation: that’s a lot of Hank Williams Senior. We heard that, “a Country Boy Can Survive, you can get so lonely you’ll cry, Don’t have a cheating heart, and stay away from a cold, cold heart.”

Needless to say, thank God for the Sony Walkman, right?

Let’s fast forward through this playlist to the college years. Enter Bible college chapel. I’ll never forget the almost electric-like jolt that ran through my being as I read and sang these words by Charles Wesley for the first time:

Long my imprisoned spirit lay

Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,

I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;

My chains fell off, my heart was free,

I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Wow, I didn’t have those words, and music was the gift that gave them to me.

As the years go by, the mix tapes and the playlists keep growing and growing. It’s not only about the melody or the meaning, it’s about how the artists’ craft almost becomes a part of us, and we take it with us wherever we go. She knew how to say what we didn’t know how to say … he knew how to paint a picture we couldn’t quite describe. And these thoughts and these pictures are so important to us because … because our maker wrote these higher ideals on our hearts.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” God, the ultimate artist, has “made everything beautiful in its time” and He has crafted something special inside of you that leaps forward when it identifies the higher ideals and grander thoughts. These are the fingerprints of eternity on our hearts.

For the vast majority of my adult life, anxiety has not been a companion of mine. Yet, the last two weeks, as our nation has been deploying rapid change, absorbing massive amounts of information quickly and projecting forward a very real crisis that will result in lost lives and economic instability, I’ve been knocked off balance. It’s a lot to take in. It’s a lot to carry as a human … as a leader, team member, spouse and parent.

As I was processing this past week, my mind went back to that four-year-old in the cramped Plymouth Horizon. I thought about the kids sheltering-in-place, cooped up in our homes and apartments across this country. As the days turn into weeks, I wonder what’s being crammed into these spaces? Are kids safe? What conversations are taking place? Are children loved? What are parents and guardians doing to call the minds and imaginations of children to the eternity written on their hearts?

It seems that we could give them a song…a gift that would grant them words they didn’t have or point them to eternity written on their hearts.

If you were to give them a song, what song would you give them?

I went to my recent playlist and thought of this one. It says:

I’m standing at your door

My heart is calling yours

Come fall into my arms

You’re weary from it all

Been running for too long

I’m here to bring you home

I’m reaching out, I’ll chase you down

I dare you to believe how much I love you now

Don’t be afraid, I am your strength

We’ll be walking on the water, dancing on the waves

Wow! Imagine if every child, everywhere knew that their creator was passionately, faithfully and lovingly pursuing them? This song has given me words and melodies I couldn’t quite express on my own. God is pursuing the world’s most vulnerable and He’s offering them the best thing they could ever hope for: salvation in Christ and intimacy with their Creator.

As people of the Gospel we love John Chapter 3, part of which says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save
the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” There is nothing more important for us at Awana, than this right here…we want to see children love Jesus for the rest of their lives.

During this season of shelter-in-place where anxieties can run high, let’s remember to fill our homeswith songs, hymns and spiritual songs that will build resilience in kids and give them the words to describe the eternity he’s already written on their hearts.

So let’s close with this question, if you could give a child the gift of a song, what song would you share?

Check Out: “Awana Staff Playlist” on Spotify